Cepeda, WHS girls beat the Knights
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
Kiersten Cepeda easily could’ve had a hat trick for Warwick on Monday.
But after watching Hempfield nearly rally all the way back from a 3-0 hole, Cepeda and the Lady Warriors were just happy to win.
The junior forward came off the bench to score two goals and then the Lady Warriors withstood a furious charge by Hempfield in the final 5:00 to earn a 3-2 victory in a key Section One game in Landisville.
Lady Black Knights’ star Kelsey Nolan had two goals within a span of 3:09 and then Hempfield got back-to-back corners as time expired, but Warwick held on.
"I’m thinking, ‘Holy crow, how could we put ourselves in that kind of position?,’" Warwick coach Bob Derr said. "Basically what we played was 54 minutes of great hockey and then the last six minutes we just went into a defensive mode. Our defensive disciplines just sorta went down the tubes."
Senior Emily Harting also scored on a second-half penalty stroke for Warwick. Cepeda eventually scored as the play continued following the Hempfield foul, but the goal was waved off to award Warwick the stroke.
With the win, Warwick (5-2 Section, 10-2 overall) avenged an earlier 3-2 defeat to Hempfield and pulled into a second-place tie with the Lady Knights (5-2 L-L). Although Warwick will need help to overtake unbeaten Penn Manor (7-0 L-L) for the Section crown, Derr’s focus is having his team just take care of its business.
"We have to beat (Penn Manor) and somebody else has to beat them to put us in a tie for first, but for us to finish a minimum of second in the Section, we have to win everything out," Derr said. "I don’t see anyone challenging Hempfield, especially on turf … If we can go 6-0 this second round (of Section play), that will definitely put us in position that we’re a team to be reckoned with and making a huge statement as we go into the post-season. It will also give us a good seed in Districts too."
Going into Monday’s action, Derr had his concerns after his team played two games on Saturday en route to winning the Donegal Tournament title, including a 3-2 conquest of the Section Three contending Lady Indians.
"After us playing two tough games on Saturday, I thought, ‘Are we going to have any energy left? What’s going to happen?,’" Derr said. "So I was nervous about the game and trying to instill in them to play a complete game and do the job that needed to be done to win."
Hempfield actually outshot the Lady Warriors 14-12 for the game and 6-4 in the opening half. But WHS senior Alexis Charles was equal to the task, including a diving stop of Hempfield’s Morgan Hilliard midway through the half.
Later, Hempfield’s Sara Brooks made a clutch defensive save on Warwick senior Emma Rissinger to keep it scoreless.
But the Warwick girls finally broke through on one of its first five first-half penalty corners. Following the insert from Cepeda, it appeared to be a broken play, but Emily Harting passed the ball to Bethany Han at the top of the circle and Han ripped a blast which Cepeda deflected home at the right post with 4:03 remaining in the half.
Following the break, Warwick continued to carry the play, generating four of the half’s first five corners and outshooting the Lady Knights 5-0 over the first several minutes.
"Through the first half and most of the game, I thought the girls did a great job of staying disciplined on the defensive end and just being patient on defense and then the offense did a great job of finding the open player and creating space," Derr said.
Although Hempfield held a 10-9 edge in penalty corners, the Warwick girls capitalized on one of their four second-half chances to make it a 2-0 game with 17:21 left. Cepeda’s shot was stopped in the goal mouth by a defender’s foot, resulting in a penalty stroke, and Harting made no mistake while beating Hempfield keeper Kayla Denlinger in the upper left corner.
"(Kiersten) is looking good and she does a nice job of thinking with the ball and makes good decisions with it," Derr said. "We saw (her shot) hit the foot, and they left the play continue, which was good, but (the official) should have left it go a little longer because the ball did eventually go into the cage. Kiersten would have had a hat trick."
Still, the Lady Warriors took a seemingly comfortable 3-0 lead with 11:54 to go, as Cepeda finished on a nice assist by Rissinger, who carried the ball down the right wing.
"The two goals that Cepeda scored were set up nicely, especially the one with Emma Rissinger," Derr said. "Emma did a great job of setting that goal up."
Hempfield, though, started to turn the tide when they capitalized on a corner, as Nolan scored on her own rebound with 5:02 left to get the Lady Knights on the scoreboard.
They threatened again on their next corner just over a minute later, but Charles stood tall while stopping three consecutive shots. For the game, she finished with 12 saves.
"If I can get my penalty corner defense just to keep the lanes clear for her to play the ball, she will be fine," Derr said. "When she has maneuvering room, she does a great job."
Unfortunately, she didn’t have it a short time later and Nolan’s blast from the top of the circle, with an assist from Heather Gailor, on a corner cut Hempfield’s deficit to 3-2 with only 1:53 remaining.
That, of course, set the stage for the wild finish, but Warwick was able to survive.
"We didn’t stay disciplined on defense and we just gave things away, as far as letting them create things and as far as penalty corners and stuff," Derr said. "… I’m pleased, we came through (although) we didn’t like the last six minutes."
Last Saturday, Warwick also had a 3-0 second-half lead in the finals of the Donegal Tournament and held on to beat the Lady Indians 3-2 in Mount Joy. Alyssa Manley and Liz Wenger connected in the first half and then Han scored at 16:02 of the second. That turned out be a key goal when Donegal’s Mary Lynam and Forry scored just eight minutes apart to make it interesting. Harting picked up two assists and Rissinger added one to help lead the Lady Warriors’ attack, and Charles finished with seven saves in goal.
Earlier, Rissinger and Harting scored two goals apiece to lead the Warwick girls in a 5-1 drubbing of North Allegheny. Autumn Hess also found the back of the cage, while Manley chipped in with two helpers as Warwick outshot North Allegheny 28-4. Cepeda, Han and Jamie Martin also had assists.
Last Thursday, Rissinger had two goals and an assist to help lead Warwick in a 5-0 blanking of Conestoga Valley in Lititz. More LADY WARRIORS, page B-10