Green Hornets sting Warwick 2-1 in OT Lady Warriors’ run ends in State quarterfinals
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
Emmaus coach Sue Butz-Stavin dipped into a baseball analogy to describe Krissy Mikelson’s shot in overtime.
It was either going to be a home run or a foul ball.
Unfortunately for Warwick, the Green Hornet senior’s tough-angle lift proved to be a walk-off game-winner, as she put the ball over the right shoulder of Lady Warrior keeper Kailynne Reinoehl and rang it off the inside of the far left post with just 2:49 elapsed in the extra session, boosting District 11 champ Emmaus to a 2-1 OT victory in the PIAA State Triple-A quarterfinals on Saturday at Exeter Township High School.
"It was a fantastic shot," Butz-Stavin said, "one of those that it’s either going to be a winner or a loser, and it happened to be the winner."
"I didn’t have any angle, I don’t think, and it was kind of like a do or die moment," Mikelson said. "As soon as I got (in the circle), I didn’t really look up, I just lifted it and it barely went in. Thank God for that."
Mikelson’s 25th goal of the season sent Emmaus (25-0) to the State semi-finals on Tuesday against District One champ West Chester Henderson, a 1-0 winner over Hatboro-Horsham. For the Lady Warriors, their season which included L-L League and District Three silver medals ended with a 19-7-1 record.
Although it was a disappointing finish, Warwick senior captains Courtney Weaver and Liz Wenger found positives from a nice run by the Lady Warriors.
"I was just telling Courtney, ‘We got further than I even really thought we would,’" said Wenger, who has accepted an athletic scholarship to play soccer at Georgetown University. "I knew we were going to do well, but I wasn’t quite thinking States, or State quarterfinals for that matter."
"I’m proud of how far we got," added Weaver, who will continue her field hockey career at Millersville University. "We knew we were the underdogs going into it (against Emmaus) and we wanted to rise to the occasion that much more. It was a good fight."
Warwick was hoping to get to the Final Four again for the first time since 2011, when the Lady Warriors went on to win the PIAA silver medal. To do so, they had to overcome an early deficit. Emmaus capitalized on a miscommunication in Warwick’s defense, which allowed Mikelson to get free. Eventually, freshman Meredith Sholder scored her team-leading 47th goal of the season with 8:00 elapsed after getting a feed from Alex Nader to put the Lady Green Hornets in front 1-0.
"We had a game plan and I thought it was looking pretty good, except when number 13, Mikelson, got free," Warwick coach Bob Derr said of the University of Delaware recruit. "We were trying to contain her and I thought if we can contain her, then we can contain and control the game. We were just trying to keep one player on her the entire time as much as we could."
The Lady Warriors, though, were executing a nice passing game while generating four of the game’s first five corners. But Warwick struggled to get the ball and fire shots away on those chances.
"Not executing the corners well – that hurt us," Derr said. "We were trying a different kind of insert because when we were down here (at Exeter) the last time, the hit was coming out so fast that they weren’t getting a good stop on the ball. They weren’t able to trap the ball, so we thought, ‘Let’s take a little bit off of it and we’ll slap sweep.’ That didn’t work either, we were still having trouble trapping, so we thought we’d go back to hitting and that’s what we did the second half."
"I was frustrated," Wenger acknowledged, "but our team is always kinda thinking, ‘Put your head down and keep going through it.’"
That mindset paid off when junior Noelle Kephart blasted one of Warwick’s two first-half shots at the cage with 11:36 left, and it took a nice defensive save by Emmaus’ Kiera Godusky to keep Warwick off the scoreboard.
Fortunately for Warwick, despite the Green Hornets holding the upper hand in shots (7-2) and corners (8-5) in the opening 30 minutes, Emmaus couldn’t add to its lead. Reinoehl finished with six of her seven saves in the first half for Warwick.
"I thought we had a good game plan," Derr said. "The passing was good, especially in the beginning of the game. We were doing some nice passing and moving the ball around, trying to find openings, but couldn’t penetrate their defensive one-third. And then about midway through the first half, it became a pretty wide-open game. It was up-and-down the field quite a bit. Then they started getting a multitude of corners."
With 9:20 elapsed in the second half, the Lady Warriors appeared to get the equalizer when Casie Stief found the back of the cage. But the goal was disallowed by the officials.
"The girls played a great game," Derr said. "It was very physical which we have not faced since we played Crestwood. But the girls played through the physical play and many ‘ghost’ fouls. We had a goal disallowed early in the second half in which as I look at the film I do not see the foul that is described by the officials signal. In fact there is no foul at all. However, I know as a team you have to make your own breaks. And we had opportunities to win the game but did not get the job done."
The Green Hornets managed just one shot in the second half, even while generating three corners in the opening five-plus minutes of the stanza. Ultimately, it remained a 1-0 game until the Lady Warriors connected on their third shot of the half with 10:07 left. Jamie Martin received the penalty corner insert from Casie Stief and dished the ball to Marleise Emrhein, who blasted the ball behind Emmaus keeper Tori Laczo (3 saves) for her team-leading 20th goal of the season.
"It’s a hard thing to hold a one-goal lead and I know that Warwick’s penalty corners are great," Butz-Stavin said. "It was a great battle."
The Green Hornets, who finished the game with a 13-8 advantage in corners and a 9-5 edge in shots, got their last two corners, the second of those on a questionable call, in the final five minutes of regulation with Warwick giving up a couple of late turnovers.
Those opportunities went by the wayside for Emmaus.
The one that Mikelson got with 2:49 elapsed in the 7-on-7 overtime session, poor angle and all, did not.
"We couldn’t really do anything about it," Weaver said. "It was a good shot … She definitely had good stickwork and speed. She was definitely their go-to girl."
"That was a great shot," Derr added. "If she would have shot it on the ground, we would’ve had it. But up in the air, that just caught everybody by surprise."
Meeting with reporters following the game, Derr sympathized with his players falling just a couple wins short of the State finals.
"I am extremely proud of this team and the growth they have demonstrated in their play," Derr said. "But what I am most proud of is the team’s maturity. Despite whatever this team faced, they fought through any animosity or rough times and rose above all the distractions to become the team they are today. They are a special group of young ladies. I told them after the game that of course the loss hurts. And it will hurt tomorrow when you wake up and read the newspaper, and it will hurt when you go to school and meet your classmates as they congratulate you on a fine season, but it will remind you that it is over. But in time, you will recognize the most important thing about team sports, and that is the journey that all of you shared. You as a team have shared some great moments."
More LADY WARRIORS, page B-4