Defenders score early, often

HUGHESVILLE — Warrior Run has watched in disappointment in its last two postseason games as its opponents have taken early one-goal leads, leaving the Defenders playing catch-up. Just 51 seconds into Tuesday night’s PIAA Class A playoff opener, it was the District 4 champions handing out celebratory hugs and hand slaps as they took an initial lead.

And while the Defenders rallied to win their past two playoff games, they gave no hope for York Catholic to do the same last night. Warrior Run scored three times in the game’s first 14 minutes and added a fourth goal in the final two minutes in the first half to claim a dominating 4-0 win over the District 3 runner-up.

“We talked about that (getting off to a fast start),” Warrior Run coach Jen Allen said. “We wanted to be on the other side of the coin because the last two games we gave up a goal in the first five minutes of the game or so. It was great to see the girls push forward.”

The three-time defending District 4 champions will play District 12 champion Conwell-Egan in the state quarterfinals on Saturday at a time and place to be determined. A win there would advance the Defenders (16-3-3) to a third consecutive PIAA Class A semifinal. District 4 runner-up Benton also advanced to the quarterfinals with a 2-1 win over Lakeland on Tuesday.

Warrior Run’s execution last night was a duplicate of many Defender performances throughout the season. There was another clean sheet by the defense and keeper Madi Welliver and the offense continued to receive balanced scoring. Four Defenders tallied against the Fighting Irish (14-8), including junior Kierra Trivelpiece who allowed Warrior Run to get off to a fast start with a goal just 51 seconds into the game.

“I like it that way,” said Allen of her team’s balance scoring last night and throughout the season. “If you have one person score all the goals it’s easy to defend.”

The Defenders were no easy guard on Tuesday.

Trivelpiece’s goal brought a roar from the Warrior Run crowd that engulfed the bleachers and lined the fence along the sideline opposite the players’ dugouts at Hughesville. Inside those fences, the Defenders were doing little spectating. Trivelpiece’s initial goal was one off three scored off rebounds by the Defenders. Only Maddie Beyer’s goal — from a difficult angle that beat the keeper near post — was tallied off an initial shot. Beyer’s shot gave Warrior Run a 2-0 lead nearly 10 minutes into the game.

Rylie Urbanski made it 3-0 with 26:05 remaining in the first half after collecting a rebound following a free kick. The final rebound tally came off the head of sophomore Emily Rittner with 1:46 left in the half.

“We’ve been talking about following the shot, kissing the post, and getting in there and making sure we are anticipating that,” Allen said. “We did a really good job of that in the first half.”

The Defenders continued to press in the second despite the wave of substitutions. They finished with 23 shots, including 17 on goal.

Welliver needed to make only three saves but the senior may have done her finest work following York Catholic corners. Warrior Run surrendered five corners to the Fighting Irish but Welliver swallowed them all by coming off her line. The clean sheet was Welliver’s 59th career shutout, breaking a tie for the girls’ state record for career shutouts.

It was Welliver’s second consecutive shutout of the Fighting Irish after the Defenders blanked York Catholic, 3-0, a year ago in the state quarterfinals.

WR – Kierra Trivelpiece, 0:51; WR – Maddie Beyer, 9:04; WR – Rylie Urbanski, 13:55; WR – Emily Ritner, 38:14

Shots: YC – 3, WR – 23. Shots on goal: YC – 3, WR – 17. Corners: YC – 5, WR – 3. Saves: YC – 14 (Amelia Strayer), WR – 3 (Madi Welliver). Records: Warrior Run 16-3-3, York Catholic 14-8. Next: Warrior Run vs. Conwell-Egan, Sat, time and place TBA