York, PA - As the rain began to fall after an emotional championship game, Dover parents and students stood near the fence at Susquehannock's Robert Lau Stadium. They reached out to grasp each others' hands to form a human arch for their girls to run underneath.
Check that: Their championship-winning girls.
And that's an important part of this story, because Dallastown's girls have owned this tournament for almost half a decade. Not many people expected a Dover victory, let alone a dominating, 3-1 victory against the four-time defending champions.
Dover pulled off the upset with an overwhelming performance at midfield. Every loose ball seemed to be won or contested by Dover. Every Dallastown offensive opportunity seemed to end with a Dover defender kicking or bumping the ball away from those girls in white jerseys.
Even Dallastown's lone score, on a penalty kick with 1:42 to play in the first half, came about because a Dover defender challenged yet another advance by Dallastown. No free looks. No free passes.
"We knew their history: five (championship appearances) in a row," Dover's Maxine Herman said. "I don't know what to say, I love our team.
"Coach A (Bret Altimore) said that we had a chance, but he kept telling us it wasn't going to be easy."
Herman would explain that her team tried to take the pressure off goalkeeper Alexis Swartz, inserted into the lineup after an injury to Marcie Gerrick. But there was something else bigger at play.
Dover didn't have history on its side, and the Eagles' determination to win the game at midfield might have just been an extension of wanting something that Dallastown has had for so long.
"I wanted a banner on the wall for our team," Herman said. "It's our banner now."
Herman scored the game's first goal with a bit of work and perhaps surprise. Dallastown keeper Becca Austin had the ball and attempted to play it to a teammate. Herman simply stepped in front of the pass and knocked home the game's first goal.
"We had watched Dallastown, and they're a magnificent team ... (but) the games we had watched I noticed most teams would play low pressure against them," Altimore said.
He wanted something more from his team. He wanted all-out pressure. "Take it to them," as Altimore said.
Up 2-0 at halftime, Dover continued to press the action even after the penalty kick goal by Meagan Newmister cut Dover's lead to 2-1 just before halftime.
Dover's pressure philosophy paid off with the first goal. And it paid off again when Dover kicked a breakaway pass to striker Kayla Miller in the second half. Miller managed to push the ball around Austin, sprinting out from the goal, and then steered the ball into the net.
"That was the point: To get on them, pressure them quick, try to create a turnover and do our business," Altimore said.
Note: The game was delayed for several minutes when Dallastown senior Alaina Curry appeared to suffer a head injury in the final minute of the game. Knocked to the turf, but able to move her feet and arms, Curry was placed on a backboard and carted off the field with 36 seconds to play in the game. On-field staff motioned to their head when talking to medical staff who assisted in helping Curry. If she suffered a head injury, it would be her second in less than a week: Curry said she "blacked out" when she banged heads with an opponent in Dallastown's game Saturday.
DOVER 3, DALLASTOWN 1
Dover -- 2 1 -- 3
Dallastown -- 1 0 -- 1
First Half -- 1. Do, Maxine Herman 25:30; 2. Do, Herman, 2:45; 3. Dt, Meagan Newmister (penalty kick), 1:42.
Second Half --1. Do, Kayla Miller, 34:00
Shots On Goal --Do 11; Dt 5
Corners -- Do 3; Dt 2
Goalies -- Do, Alexis Swartz (4 saves); Dt, Becca Austin (8 saves)