CLARKS SUMMIT — The end result was unfavorable, but Abington Heights’ season was filled with many highlights — both on and off the field.
No. 2 seed Dallas, backed by a stellar performance by goalkeeper Rachel Nelligan, defeated the top-seeded Lady Comets, 3-0, in the District 2 Class 3A girls soccer championship game Nov. 2.
Abington Heights ended the season with a 20-1 overall record and senior Hannah Kowalski cherished the camaraderie among the team as much as any victory.
“I think, more than anything, I’m going to remember the times we had together,” Kowalski said. “Those stick out to me way more than any win. We had so much fun together and we had such a strong bond, and I think that’s even more important than our record.
“We knew we wanted to get to this game and win this game. Every single person, from 1 to 29, was willing to do whatever it took. We kept a really positive attitude all the time and I think that’s how we got so far.”
Dallas took a 1-0 lead in the 27th minute when midfielder Samantha Mazula sent her penalty shot attempt into the top corner of the net after Abington Heights was called for a handball inside the box.
“When they got one, I wasn’t super worried,” Abington Heights head coach Errol Mannick said. “We had some chances and we didn’t convert, and that’s when it starts to become dangerous. You have to take advantage of the few opportunities you get. I feel (Dallas) was a little bit more disciplined and that’s on me. They won more (balls) and earned it.”
Senior Hollie Holthaus, who was injured the last time Dallas won a district championship in 2014, scored off the deflection of a long cross from Mazula to give the Lady Mountaineers a 2-0 lead in the 45th minute.
Nelligan made 1o saves, including two quality stops of shots from Kowalski in the first half.
“She set the tone,” Dallas head coach Nikki Pekarski said. “Making those big saves gave our team the confidence that she’s going to stop anything that comes her way.”
Dallas went ahead, 3-0, in the 48th minute when a corner kick from Mazula bounced off an Abington Heights player and into the net for an own goal.
“I’m disappointed with the result of this game, but the season was amazing,” Mannick said. “These girls have a lot of great memories and a lot of things to be proud of.”
Abington Heights’ senior class reached at least the district semifinals in each of their four years, but Mannick believes their love for each other stands out just much as anything they accomplished on the field.
“The biggest thing I’m going to remember about the senior class is their desire to be a true team,” he said. “They incorporated our underclassmen really well and that speaks a lot about their character.
“They are amazing kids.”
Abington Heights’ Emily Clauss believes the senior class has left a lasting legacy.
“I was given the best set of girls during my four years that anybody could wish for,” Clauss said. “I’m really proud of what we did this year, and the last three years, we accomplished a lot and I think we made a name for ourselves.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.