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Four WHS players named First-Team All-Region
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Over the past 10 years, the Warwick field hockey team has had just one First-Team All-Region selection.
That goes to show the degree of difficulty involved in receiving that honor.
It’s also a statement regarding the level of talent which the Lady Warriors had between the white lines this fall, as four of their players took home First-Team honors on the Pennsylvania Region team when the 2011 Harrow Sports/NFHCA High School All-Region selections were released this week.
Seniors Alexis Charles, Emily Harting, Alyssa Manley and Emma Rissinger became Warwick’s first honorees since Meredith Way earned a Mid-East Region selection in 2006.
"It’s very exciting. I was very surprised," Warwick coach Bob Derr said. "Not saying that the girls didn’t deserve it or anything like that. I thought they had the opportunity. But to get selected First-Team is just a tremendous statement for them and the work that they’ve put in. At the same token, it’s definitely a great accolade and statement for the program. That is what I’m excited the most about. The coaching staff does a lot of work, and the other thing is that hopefully these girls will take the time to thank their teammates for pushing them to be able to reach these kinds of honors."
Warwick’s four First-Team selections ties them for the most-ever in program history. At the tail end of their run to back-to-back State titles in 1999 and 2000, the Lady Warriors put four on the Mid-East All-Regional team in consecutive years. In 2000, Amanda Eckert, Kristin Harris, Amanda Eckert and Kelly Wood were honored, and then in 2001, the accolades went to Kate Miller, Sarah Miller, Kelly Wood and Kiersten Wood.
Three weeks ago, the 2011 Lady Warriors nearly won the program’s fourth-ever State championship, but suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 OT loss to Hempfield in the PIAA finals.
Still, the Warwick girls put together quite a run while capturing their 11th L-L League title and advancing to the District Three Triple-A semi-finals before bringing home the bronze.
Their All-Region selections represent the balance they had on the field, with a forward, midfielder, back and keeper all being honored.
"It’s interesting that they’re all in different positions," Derr said.
Harting, Manley and Rissinger were all three-year starters and Charles was a two-year starting keeper between the pipes.
Rissinger, a defensive forward, finished second on the team in goal-scoring with 18, behind only Kiersten Cepeda (26) to help lead a Warwick attack which connected 104 times this season.
She was a key player for Warwick in the transition game with her vision and speed.
"(Emma)’s just extremely fast and she also can use her quick stickwork and her quickness, so she drew lots of penalty corners for us throughout the season which put us in a good scoring position also," Derr said.
Manley, who played at center mid, chipped in with six goals on the attack while also teaming up with Harting and Manley to allow just 27 goals in 28 games.
"That’s a tough position to play," Derr said, "because you definitely have to know the game well in that middle position, and at the same token be able to direct traffic offensively, but yet be able to get back on defense and help coordinate the defense and pick up any loose people that might be open due to another defender picking up a loose ball. (Alyssa) provided that for us."
Harting, a center back, also provided leadership for the Lady Warriors, along with a booming shot.
"She’s definitely a strong person in the middle," Derr said. "Just physically-wise, she’s a strong girl. She sort of reminds me a lot of a pinball machine in that people will bang into her and she’s still standing and they’re down. She has a strong presence on the field just by her stature and she has a long reach with her arms so that she can reach with her stick and pick up tackles and jabs … And of course she is probably one of the strongest hitters I’ve had in a long time because she can really hit the ball hard."
Charles, meanwhile, finished with 11 shutouts this season and her save percentage, in Derr’s recollection, was 88 percent.
"That’s pretty good, especially in the state of Pennsylvania and the level of competition that we compete at," Derr said. "She just matured into a nice goalkeeper and the huge aspect of her, as one of our captains too, was that she’s definitely a no-nonsense goalkeeper and she will speak her mind and we needed that. We needed that as a leader on the team."
The 2011 Harrow Sports/NFHCA High School All-American teams will be announced on Monday, Dec. 12. More ALL-REGION, page B-4