By Brian Holtzapple
For The Daily Item
HEPBURNVILLE -- All night long East Juniata tried to get the ball onto the right foot of Spencer Reinford during Tuesday's PIAA Class A first-round game against Trinity.
But when it came time to put the ball in the back of the net, Reinford and the rest of the Tigers didn't have much luck against the Shamrocks.
East Juniata let a one-goal lead and several other scoring opportunities slip by the wayside as District 3 Trinity came back for a 2-1 victory at the Balls Mills Soccer Club.
"We dominated the whole game, but we didn't take care of our chances," said East Juniata coach Don Troutman. "It was a good year, but if you don't finish your chances (a loss) is what happens."
The District 4 champion Tigers (20-3) had plenty of looks at the goal in the first half, including a couple of direct kicks, but their shots were well off their marks as the game remained scoreless well into the second half.
"We had a lot of opportunities, but we didn't get many on-frame in the first half," said Troutman, whose team out-shot Trinity 7-4 in the first half. "It was really frustrating. That's one of things we practice and focus on -- making sure you get your shot on-frame and to take care of your opportunities.
"In some games you may only get two or three opportunities. We had a ton more opportunities than that and we didn't take advantage of them," added Troutman.
East Juniata increased the pressure it put on Trinity to open the second half, and the Tigers would get a big break when Reinford was awarded a penalty kick after he was tripped up inside the box.
Reinford's shot was good as he fired the ball into the lower left corner of the net while Trinity goalkeeper Chase Katterman dove to his left.
Although Troutman didn't expect Reinford's goal to hold up for the rest of the game, the Tigers only had one more solid scoring chance the rest of the game.
That allowed Trinity (17-4-1) to get back in the game, and it all began with a foul committed by East Juniata and a direct kick being awarded to Nate Gracey.
The shot by Gracey was initially blocked, but Brett Bricker got the rebound and also the game-tying goal with 11:31 remaining in the game.
"The way I saw it, that wasn't a foul. I thought it was a real clean defend," said Troutman. "Sometimes those calls go against you. I don't know if we lost our head, but maybe it set us back a little bit."
The Shamrocks stayed on the offensive and scored the game-winner with 1:45 remaining in regulation on an unassisted goal by forward David Bricker.
"Trinity was dangerous up top. (Bricker) was quick for them and he got dangerous a couple of times," said Troutman. "I thought we contained him pretty well, but (the goal) doesn't happen if we finish our chances.
"If we finish our chances (the score) is 6-0."
All told, East Juniata led in shots, 15-7; and in corners, 5-0.
"We totally dominated the game and lost. We had some wide-open looks, and if we bury a couple of those it's our win," said Troutman. "We weren't playing for (Spencer's goal) to hold up. We were playing to score more goals.
"We have never packed it in."
But the Shamrocks have seen to it that the Tigers are packing up and going home -- earlier than was probably expected from the Juniata County team.