LEBANON >> Chambersburg's boys soccer team ran into a pair of walls Saturday evening.
One was the Hershey defense, which was just about impenetrable.
The other was the line between the District 3 Class AAA quarterfinals and reaching the semifinals – which includes a berth in the PIAA Tournament. After a 2-0 loss to Hershey, that line has still never been crossed by the Trojans.
Hershey (15-5-1) scored a goal in the first half and one 34 seconds into the second, and its defense was up to the task of holding Chambersburg (12-5-2) scoreless in their quarterfinal matchup at Cedar Crest's Earl Boltz Stadium.
Trojan first-year coach Corey Grove said, "We want to do well in the regular season, but we need to get to a point where our real season begins when the postseason comes around. We need to have that swagger when we get to this situation."
Chambersburg did not play a bad game. But with the way Hershey's defense played, the margin for error was tiny.
Hershey, which will play Central York in the semifinals on Tuesday, got a huge goal midway through the first half. The ball popped out to Luca Nardini, who took one touch and ripped a low shot inside the near post from just inside the 18.
While the Trojans had a lot of the possession, made a lot of good passes and used their excellent ball skills to move the ball into the attack, the progress stopped right there.
Senior forward Erik Espinoza said, "They built what seemed like a wall back there; we tried everything, but we couldn't breech it. They were man-marking us well, they had good size and they kept their numbers back."
Whenever Chambersburg appeared ready to make that one crucial last pass, or that one more dribble to get free, Hershey closed them down.
"Individually, they could defend well," Trojan senior Eric Dixon said, "but they really did a great job of getting players behind the ball."
Grove said, "They played defense very, very well. That's what won it tonight. We did a lot of good things, but we did them in midfield, not anywhere close to the goal. We needed some more creativity."
Chambersburg's defense was without starting left back Inigo Macias, who suffered a leg injury in Tuesday's game. Grove dropped Dixon back into the center of the defense and moved Jacob Stouffer outside. Dixon later moved up front.
"I felt we have good enough players that it wouldn't hurt us too much," Dixon said. "We still had confidence."
Other than Nardini's shot, Hershey generated little offense in the first half. But in the first minute of the second half, Josh DiPasquale crossed a ball from the right side and Tanner Therit ran through a defender to chest the ball into the net from close range.
Grove said, "Their first goal was a good shot, but he shouldn't have been that open. But I thought the second one was pretty soft on our part. Down 1-0 we're still OK, but 2-0 made it difficult."
The best chances for the Trojans were generated by Espinoza and Rafael Bonilla. Espinoza's run along the goal line resulted in a shot and a save by Hershey keeper Alex Morgret. Bonilla received a pass about 12 yards out with Morgret off his line, but his shot went wide.
"Hershey is good – I don't know how they got the No. 17 seed," Grove said, "and they knocked off the No. 1 (Central Dauphin). Neither team had many opportunities tonight, but they took advantage of two mistakes we made. That's what you can't do at this level.
"All in all, it was a good season, though. We only lose three seniors, so we got some good experience."
Hershey 2, Chambersburg 0
First half — (H) Luca Nardini, 19th min.
Second half — (H) Tanner Therit, asst. Josh DePasquale, 41st.
Shots — Chbg 8, Her 8; Shots on goal — Chbg 2, Her 4; Corner kicks — Chbg 2, Her 1; Saves — Chbg 3 (Chandler Schur), Her 2 (Alex Morgert); Fouls — Chbg 12, Her 9; Offsides — Chbg 2, Her 1.