Lady Barons advance to District semi-finals

By on October 31, 2018
Manheim Central’s Lily Sipel celebrates a goal against Red Land last Wednesday, Oct. 24. Sipel also scored the game’s only goal in the Lady Barons’ 1-0 win over East Pennsboro last Saturday in the District Three Double-A quarterfinals. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Manheim Central’s Lily Sipel celebrates a goal against Red Land last Wednesday, Oct. 24. Sipel also scored the game’s only goal in the Lady Barons’ 1-0 win over East Pennsboro last Saturday in the District Three Double-A quarterfinals. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

When Manheim Central’s field hockey team boarded the team bus for Saturday’s game, Lily Sipel’s status was a question mark.

The junior forward had sprained her MCL in the Lady Barons’ 3-0 win over Red Land last Wednesday, Oct. 24 and still wasn’t 100 percent.

“We weren’t sure if (Lily) would even play today,” Manheim Central coach Morgan Briggs said, “so we were saying, ‘We’ll see how the warm-up goes and make our decision based on that,’ and she was like, ‘Good to go.’”

Ultimately, Sipel not only played, but also scored the game-winning goal to help the 6th-seeded Lady Barons knock off No. 3 East Pennsboro by a 1-0 score in the District Three Double-A playoff quarterfinals at Lower Dauphin Middle School.

“I was really proud and happy for her that despite the pain she was in,” Briggs said, “she was able to score.”

The victory earned Manheim Central (15-6) the right to play 2nd-seeded Palmyra, a 3-1 winner over New Oxford, in Wednesday’s District semi-finals, which was played after deadline. It’s the first time since the 2016 season that the Lady Barons advanced to the District semi-finals.

To get to this point, the MC girls had to get past a Lady Panther squad which defeated them 2-1 in overtime in last year’s District quarterfinals and then again 5-1 in a non-league game on Sept. 15.

The win also punched the Lady Barons’ ticket to the PIAA State Double-A playoffs. The top six teams from District Three advance.

“This is huge because the girls really wanted to win this game,” Briggs said. “They knew there was a lot on the line, they did not want to drop down in the consolation bracket, and we felt that we were just as good as they were. We’ve made a lot of adjustments positionally with the girls on the field and we felt like we’ve made a lot of great steps forward and that we were a totally different team since September. I think that really showed today.”

Led by University of Virginia recruit Gery Schnarrs, East Pennsboro actually held an 8-1 advantage in penalty corners. Neither team, though, was able to generate a lot of shots on goal, with the Lady Panthers building a 2-1 edge.

But Manheim Central was opportunistic with their only shot, and when Sipel notched her team-leading 14th goal of the season just inside the right post with 11:11 left in the opening half, on an assist from Maisie Dorwart, the Lady Barons had a 1-0 lead.

“Lily was just an awesome finisher today,” Briggs said. “She received the ball that Maisie hit into the circle, great touch and then got a great shot on goal and finished it off. That was great.”

East Pennsboro got its fourth and final corner of the opening stanza with just :10 left on the clock, but a Lady Baron flier broke up the play and that was the half.

They picked up two more corners in the first 5:42 of the second half, and Aimee Huffington nearly had a tip at the left post, but the Lady Panthers came up empty.

“Our defensive penalty corner unit has kept us in so many games this year,” Briggs said. “And I’m so proud of Maisie and Maddie (Barbush) and Cami (Lehman) and (goalkeeper) Mikayla (Regan), just for weathering their attack and I feel like they’re a very, very high speed, high-attacking offensive bunch. We knew coming in they had really fast forwards.”

Dorwart, from her center back position, not only frustrated East Pennsboro on corners, but also in the Lady Barons’ defensive third in general, intercepting numerous Lady Panther passes and interrupting their attack.

“(Maisie)’s been doing a really excellent job of not just tackling, but when she does, she also steps up and intercepts and can go with speed to get our attack generated,” Briggs said. “So she’s been really, really key for us this year.”

Still, Manheim Central had to withstand a few dangerous scoring chances by East Pennsboro in the final 20 minutes, including one by Schnarrs with 18:42 left, when she unleashed a reverse stick rocket which went a little high over the net.

“We knew that she was very, very dangerous, has a wicked reverse shot and that we had to contain her,” Briggs said. “She’s an outstanding player and she had her moments where she was receiving and making passes, but I feel like we did a pretty good job of containing her and not letting her offensive prowl get going.”

East Pennsboro’s final opportunity came on a penalty corner with time expired, but the Lady Barons — a team which consists of just two seniors — were up to the task to clinch their trip to the semi-finals.

“Our girls stayed calm, they stayed composed, they played together,” Briggs said, “and I think just the fact that we played as a team is what really won the game today.”

Last Wednesday, Codi Bollinger, Lexi Hosler and Sipel scored goals to lift the Central girls to a 3-0 shutout of Red Land in Mount Joy.

Leading 1-0 at the half on a goal by Sipel, the Lady Barons got tallies from Bollinger and Hosler in the second half to pull away. Jenna Lutz added an assist for Manheim Central, helping them outshoot Red Land 9-2. Manheim Central also doubled up the Lady Patriots in penalty corners, 10-5.

Regan finished with two saves to get the shutout.

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