---- — By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
HUGHESVILLE -- Tom Craig spent parts of two days watching the game tape from Danville's regular-season loss to Warrior Run to see what his Ironmen could try against the Defenders in the District 4 Class AA quarterfinals.
His conclusion? Warrior Run doesn't really have a weakness, so he told his team that to win they'd have to go hard for all 80 minutes and pressure the Defenders as quickly as possible.
The Ironmen listened and did what no team has been able to do in the playoffs over the past two years: beat the Defenders.
Siobhan Bross rifled a great shot to the near post on Warrior Run freshman goalie Olivia George to net an insurance goal, and the Ironmen upset the reigning Class A state champions, 2-0, Saturday at Raymond Perritt Soccer Stadium.
That second goal for the Ironmen just 3 1/2 minutes into the second half of the District 4 Class AA quarterfinal was one that gave the team a confidence boost against an excellent team.
"The feeling was unbelievable; it was just a big boost of energy," Bross said. "It really lifted up our spirits."
Despite the two-goal deficit, the Defenders played hard until the final horn, consistently pressuring to get shots off. Warrior Run continually fired at Ironmen goalie Hanna Harris, but couldn't get anything past her or Danville's back line.
"I think they had an awesome keeper. I think she had the soccer gods with her; she made a lot of great saves," Warrior Run coach Jen Allen said. "We were pushing there. (Bross) hit a great shot, I don't know how you're going to stop that."
Warrior Run kept pushing the ball into Danville territory and attempting shots, but unfortunately couldn't find the back of the net.
Danville got on the board in the first half with 10:21 to play when Kylie Gorki lined up for a direct kick about 20 yards deep and nailed a shot to her left that rolled past George for an 1-0 lead at the half.
"It's only a goal; you can come back," Allen said was her message to the Defenders at the half. "I think they showed that, they played until the end. They played hard, (and) they played tough."
Seniors Taylor Landis and Emily Potter both kept trying to work past the Ironmen's back line and take shots (including six from Landis), but any time they got a look, Harris stepped up to make a great save or the defense cleared the ball.
George came into the game late as a forward and had a great shot at Harris with about 4:10 to play. It would have made it a one-goal game, but Harris blocked it and a Danville player quickly cleared it.
"She (Harris) was on her game, phenomenal. She did a really nice job," Craig said. "Couple times there it looked like it was going in but the second effort kept it out. Once you have a solid goalie like that and they see she makes great saves, then the field players take over."
The Defenders defense didn't allow Danville to attempt a single shot from inside the goal box. The Ironmen routinely pressured Warrior Run's defense, though, rifling nine shots on goal.