Han’s late goal lifts Warwick past Donegal in L-L semis
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
At first glance, Warwick coach Bob Derr didn’t know which one of his players scored.
It’s safe to say that he didn’t care.
After watching his team manufacture a huge 16-7 edge in penalty corners, and yet still not find the back of the cage through the first 57 minutes on Tuesday, Derr was just relieved that someone in a black jersey scored.
It turned out to be senior Bethany Han who finished on an assist from Alyssa Manley with just 2:06 left to snap a scoreless tie, and that was the difference in a 1-0 Warwick victory over Donegal in the L-L League playoff semi-finals at Manheim Central High School.
"That was nerve-wracking to have all that offense and not score goals," Derr said. "To have all those corners and not get a goal is pretty tough … We just needed someone to hit the back of the cage. Thank God (Bethany) did. I don’t know what would have happened in overtime. It would have been good experience though because we haven’t played OT all year."
It won’t be out of the realm of possibility for it to happen tonight (Thursday) when they face Penn Manor for the third time this season at 7 p.m. at Warwick High School for the L-L crown. This will be their first trip to the finals since 2008 when they fell to Donegal by a 2-1 score.
"It’s just good to be back in the finals again," Derr said. "I’d like to have two days to prepare, but we’re not going to get that. I hope we can play a decent game. Both times we played Penn Manor, they were both very good games. Hopefully we can give them a battle."
Tuesday’s win also marked the first time in the past three seasons that Warwick (16-3) has advanced past the semi-finals, having lost in the Final Four to Donegal 2-1 in 2009 and LMH 2-1 in 2010.
"We didn’t really talk about it, but most of the starters are seniors and we just want to go as far as we can," Han said. "We know we can go far and we’re all just determined."
They brought that determination with them into Tuesday’s battle, as they outshot the Indians 11-1 in the first half and held an 8-1 advantage in corners. Jenica Miller had a defensive save for Warwick and Alyssa Gower was big between the pipes for Donegal with 11 first-half saves and 19 for the game.
"It was pretty much a lopsided game as far as where the ball was — it was just that one team did a great job on defense and their goalie did a fantastic job," Derr said. "There were a lot of shots that she saved."
The Donegal girls were playing without one of their top offensive weapons in senior forward Mary Lynam, who suffered a concussion in warm-ups on Saturday. But the Lady Indians used a cherry picker against Warwick to stretch the Lady Warriors’ defense and they had two early chances in the second half with a pair of corners in the first 4:00.
But the WHS girls recovered and earned a penalty stroke with 22:41 left, only to see Gower make the stop on Emily Harting’s shot. For the game, Warwick held a 21-4 advantage in shots and Donegal’s Kirsten Gochnauer added a defensive save in the second half.
Later, Warwick’s Alexis Charles stepped up with a key save with just under 6:00 left on a blast from Karlee Farr to keep it scoreless, one of three shots by Donegal in the second half.
"Alexis came through big because I knew when they got in the circle, they were going to be dangerous," Derr said.
Finally, with 27:54 gone in the second half, Warwick’s Alyssa Manley got the ball to Han, who fired it into the cage for what proved to be the game-winner.
"I just stayed wide and Alyssa gave me a great assist and I flicked it in," Han said. "It was a great pass."
"All I saw was Manley bring the ball in," Derr said, "and I didn’t know who shot and finished it. That was it. It was just a nice goal. We just needed something."
Still, the Lady Warriors had one more scary moment left when Donegal got its seventh and final corner in the final minute. But Warwick was able to survive and hold on for the victory.
"To finish the game on a penalty corner, that’s even more (nerve-wracking) knowing that time’s up, that there’s no chance to come back and you’re going to go right into overtime," Derr said. "Just thank God they muffed the shot and we got a stick on it and cleared the ball out of the circle. "
Last Saturday in the L-L quarterfinals, the Lady Warriors (15-3) scored three goals on their first six shots and pummeled Section Three runner-up Lancaster Mennonite 7-1 in Millersville.
Junior Kiersten Cepeda scored two of her three goals in the opening half, when Warwick jumped to a commanding 5-0 lead while yielding no shots to the Blazers. The WHS girls held a 12-0 edge in shots in the first 30 minutes, and a 17-10 advantage for the game, as they avenged a 2-1 loss to LMH in last year’s semi-final round.
"We had a lot of offense," Derr said. "When you’re taking 17 goals and you’ve got seven goals, that’s pretty good. It’s a good start. We got out of the gate and that’s what we wanted to do and now move on to the next game."
Cepeda and Bethany Han scored in the game’s first 8:31 — both on assists from Manley — and then Marleise Emrhein connected just over four minutes later, on a helper from Emma Rissinger, as the Lady Warriors wasted little time setting the tone.
The Warwick girls got deep into the LMH defense again with less than 10 minutes left in the half, and Cepeda’s second goal of the game with 23:47 elapsed, scoring just past the right pad of keeper Alli Knowles, made it 4-0.
Cepeda’s hat trick was her fourth of the season, and her team-leading 16 goals puts her just two ahead of Rissinger’s 14.
"I think what really helps with (Kiersten) is she is disciplined," Derr said. "She puts herself in the right place where she needs to be."
With less than a minute left in the half, Warwick got its ninth and final corner and converted when Liz Wenger got the rebound of a shot from Manley and passed to Rissinger, who scored with no time left on the clock. For the game, Warwick outcornered LMH 17-6.
The Blazers got their first three shots on goal during a flurry with nearly six minutes elapsed in the second half. Keeper Alexis Charles (9 saves) was equal to the task, but Derr called a timeout to regroup his girls.
A short time later, Emily Harting and Cepeda scored within a span of just 6:02 to stretch the Lady Warriors’ lead to 7-0. Rissinger and Jamie Martin each assisted on Cepeda’s tally.
With 13:50 remaining, LMH spoiled the shutout when Abbey Basom put the ball in the back of the cage.
Last Wednesday, Oct. 12, the Warwick girls had an 18-4 advantage in corners against Conestoga Valley, but couldn’t capitalize and they suffered a 2-1 loss to the Bucks in their regular-season finale in Witmer.
Rissinger’s goal at 19:29 of the second half cut CV’s lead to 2-1, but the Lady Warriors, despite outshooting the Bucks 11-7, were unable to get the equalizer. Charles finished with five stops between the pipes. More LADY WARRIORS, page B-10