CHAMBERSBURG — District 3 playoff soccer games are usually closely contested, low scoring affairs with perhaps one play making the difference.
There was another kind of game played Saturday afternoon at a sweltering Trojan Stadium in a Class 4A quarterfinal game.
Manheim Township broke out to a 3-1 lead early in the second half, then watched as Chambersburg rallied to tie the game and send it to overtime. But the Blue Streaks prevailed 4-3 when Nolan McCarty headed in his second goal of the game in the first OT period.
Chambersburg’s season ends with a 13-5 record, while Manheim Township (11-4-3) advances to the semifinals for a game Tuesday at Warwick. The Blue Streaks also qualified for the PIAA Tournament.
The game was back-and-forth, with each team having periods of dominance, and plenty of chances created. The Blue Streaks played more of a possession game and the Trojans were effective at times sending the ball upfield to its talented front line.
“They are a good team,” Chambersburg said of Manheim Township, which had rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Trojans 3-2 early in the season. “They’ve won 11 of their last 12 games. We’ve been here (in the quarterfinals) five of the last nine years, so we know what kind of competition we’re facing at this stage.”
The Blue Streaks broke out to a 3-1 lead just 3 1/2 minutes into the second half on a goal by Moses Katembo. His first shot was saved by Chambersburg goalkeeper Drew Cover, but Katembo got his foot on the rebound and it snuck into the goal.
“A 3-1 lead is normally a lot to come back from, but we have the guys up front who can do that,” Grove said. “And once we got the first one back, I knew it was possible.”
Halfway through the second half, Cristian Lopez worked inside the box and fired a shot toward the left side of the goal. Blue Streaks keeper Adam Dombach dove that way, but the ball deflected off a defender’s leg and went into the right side of the net.
Chambersburg kept working, and was rewarded with the tying goal with 7:46 left. Lopez passed to the left wing to Luca Gaisbauer, who turned the ball slightly inside and then let a sizzling shot rip that beat Dombach to the high right side.
Grove said, “We know we’re not the kind of team that will dominate all the time. We need to be patient and weather those times we’re not. Because we know we have the ability to come back.”
The action was fast and furious in the overtime, despite the players going full tilt for 80 minutes in the heat.
Max Shaub took a shot through traffic that was saved by Cover. About a minute later, the Trojans’ Mario Weisman cut inside from the right and unleashed a shot that was headed for the upper far corner. But Dombach made a spectacular diving save to knock it away.
“I thought we had it right there,” Grove said.
Then Manheim Township came down and put Hayden Hampshire behind the defense with a 1-v-1 chance, but Cover blocked the shot to preserve the tie.
But it didn’t last long. The Blue Streaks earned a corner kick and used a similar setup to the one that scored their second goal. Jackson Taliani took the corner kick and hit a ball to the far side of the box, where McCarty headed it home.
Hampshire scored the game’s first goal when a pass from Shaub rebounded off a Trojan defender and he knocked it into he net.
Wiesman countered for Chambersburg after a pass from Lopez freed him on the left side. He slotted a low hard shot into the far corner.
McCarty’s first goal, also a header off a Taliani corner kick, with just 3:31 to go before halftime was a real back breaker.
Grove said, “These games are games of fine margins. What if we defend better on that corner kick (McCartys first goal)? What if Mario’s shot in overtime goes in? That stuff happens in this sport.
“My philosophy as a coach is to hold the other team scoreless. If they don’t score, you’ll win. But it’s been different this year because we had so many talented players up top. And we didn’t even have our best player (Michael Cespedes) for half the season. So that’s a testament to the guys for us to get this far without him.”
Manheim Township 4, Chambersburg 3, OT
Manheim Twp. 2 1 1 — 4
Chambersburg 1 2 0 — 3
MT — Hayden Hampshire, asst. Max Shaub, 31:54
Ch — Mario Wiesman, asst. Cristian Lopez, 15:37
MT — Nolan McCarty, asst. Jackson Taliani, 3:31
MT — Moses Katembo, asst. Shaub, 36:28
Ch — Lopez, unassisted, 20:11
Ch — Luca Gaisbauer, asst. Lopez, 7:46
MT — McCarty, asst. Taliani, 5:50
Shots — MT 15; Chbg 12. Shots on goal — MT 8; Chbg 6. Corner kicks — MT 6; Chbg 2. Saves — MT 4 (Adam Dombach); Chbg 4 (Drew Cover). Fouls — MT MT 12; Chbg 13. Offsides — MT 2.