By Brian Holtzapple
For The Daily Item
HEPBURNVILLE -- Danville played an entertaining first half against Montoursville in their District 4 Class AA quarterfinal game on Saturday, but the Ironmen had nothing to show for their efforts.
In the second half, however, Danville made sure all of that hard work paid off.
Danville didn't have as many problems finding the back of the net after the break, as junior Eric Dempsey scored twice to lead the Ironmen to a 3-0 victory over Montoursville at the Balls Mills Soccer Complex.
"In the first half it took us a little while to get used to the surface, and the ball was a little harder and it took us a while to settle the ball down and play our passing game," said Danville coach Brian Dressler, whose team fired no less than 10 shots on Montoursville goalkeeper Sawyer Bressler in the first half.
"That was frustrating, but that's soccer and that happens. You can dominate and not get those goals."
Most of the scoring opportunities for No. 5-seeded Danville (13-6) came toward the end of the first half, and Dressler knew it was only a matter of time until his team finally scored.
"We knew we were playing well, especially in the last 10-15 minutes of the first half when we really started making those quick passes and we started creating those good opportunities," said Dressler. "I knew if we just kept doing that, more opportunities would come and eventually we'd get a goal."
Dempsey, who was one of Danville's offensive leaders on the season, changed the Ironmen's fortunes by scoring off a Shayne Riley assist 5:49 into the second half.
"In the first half I didn't play that well, but in the second half I kept (my head up) and I wanted to score," said Dempsey. "My first goal was pretty big because the whole game was riding on that, and then once we got that goal we just kept scoring more and more."
The goal occurred moments after No. 4 Montoursville (13-6) committed a foul just outside the box.
"We always preach that the first thing as soon as there's a foul, just place the ball and hit it right away," said Dressler. "This time we were lucky enough that Montoursville was asleep and arguing (the call), and we just put the ball through clean."
Six minutes later Dempsey scored again, and this time he connected off a Gage Reber assist.
"That was pretty much the game-ender right there, because we had a two-goal lead and the momentum," said Dempsey.
With 8:46 left in the game the Ironmen completed their scoring when Derek Kirkner got in on the action by scoring off another assist by Reber.
"We've had a potent offense all year with Gage and (Eric). Gage has 19 goals on the season and now I think (those two goals) get Eric up to 16," said Dressler. "You have two guys scoring a lot of goals, so it makes it tough for the other team to just (zero) in on one guy."
Danville will need to keep on scoring when it faces Lewisburg, a 6-0 winner over Shikellamy, in Tuesday's semifinals at a site and time to be determined.
In each of the last two years, the Ironmen have lost to the Green Dragons in the semifinals.
"The last two years we faced Lewisburg in the semifinals, so we might as well make it three years in a row," said Dressler.