First Posted: 11/4/2014
Dallas needed only one to advance to the final eight. Its defense did the rest.
Talia Szatkowski’s goal in the 71st minute proved to be the difference as the Mountaineers picked up a 1-0 win over District 4’s Montoursville in the PIAA Class AA first round game Tuesday night at Lake-Lehman High School.
The Mountaineers improve to 20-0 on the season and battled Villa Joseph Maria, a 4-0 winner over Conrad Weiser, in the quarterfinals of the PIAA Championships Saturday. This is the second straight season the Mountaineers have reached the quarterfinals.
Dallas coach Abe Lewis thought the game went pretty much how he anticipated.
“I knew we were going to be able to get in on them,” he said. “It was just the fact that if our defense was being able to keep it to one goal or under. We knew we were going to get one. I told them if we keep them out we were going to get one.”
And that’s all it took.
Szatkowski got the winner with less than 10 minutes to play on a scrum around the 18 in front of Montoursville keeper Marlene Bassett. Four Warrior defenders were there but Szatkowski was able to keep the ball near her feet. Eventually it was her against Bassett. She buried it to the far corner.
“I saw the ball being played from the top of the box,” she said. “I just went to it because we had to take advantage of every chance we had. I just took the shot and it went in.”
Coming into the game, both teams’ top scorers were expected to make the difference. Szatkowski did for Dallas. But the Mountaineer defense held Montoursville star Kirsten O’Malley without a clean scoring opportunity. Although O’Malley had three shots on goal in the first half – two in the second – she was never given a great opportunity to put one past Dallas keeper Sydney Emershaw.
Lewis said his girls were aware of O’Malley’s talent, but he didn’t want to take a player away from defense just to mark her.
“We didn’t really mark anyone up,” he said. “I didn’t feel we needed to. The girls knew she was their attacking player to watch. I didn’t want to take a defender away.”
Most of Montoursville’s best chances weren’t from O’Malley. Instead, the Warriors used each corner kick as a dangerous threat and almost got one to go through with 12 minutes left in the first half.
Montoursville’s Nicole Weisser took a corner kick and fed a great ball into the Dallas box. Bri Ulmer was able to get a clean head on it but the ball sailed just wide.
Dallas got its first good chance two minutes later.
Szatkowski split Warrior defenders between the football field’s hashes. She got through the last defender and it was a one-on-one with the keeper. Just yards away, Szatkowski fired it straight to the gloves of Bassett and the tie was preserved.
“I think we took advantage of our speed,” Lewis said. “Physical and speedwise, we felt comfortable. (Talia) was going to get a chance.”
This is a Dallas team that returned every starter from last year’s state playoff run. So, they had experience. And once Szatkowski nailed the deciding tally, the defense couldn’t be penetrated.
“I though we did really well and what we wanted to defensively,” Szatkowski said. “We were able to beat them to the ball and keep it away from them.”