Lady Warriors advance to L-L League finals
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
Despite watching his Warwick field hockey team punch its ticket to the L-L League championship tilt with a 1-0 win over Elizabethtown on Tuesday night, head coach Bob Derr had mixed emotions at game’s end.
It was his son, Andy, the Lady Bears’ head coach, who was on the short side of the score.
"I want to see him succeed, but at the same time, so do I," Bob laughed. "So you’re caught in a bit of, like, a Catch-22. The family doesn’t win totally in that situation."
The Lady Warriors (15-4-1), who finished as the Section One runner-up, won on this night after senior midfielder Liz Wenger scored what proved to be the game-winner with 2:11 gone in the second half, snapping a scoreless tie.
With the victory, Warwick advances to the L-L finals against reigning League champ Penn Manor, a 3-0 winner over Hempfield in the other semi-final game, on Thursday at 7 p.m. on the Comets’ turf. In two earlier meetings this season, Penn Manor capitalized on late goals to win 2-1 and 1-0.
"We’re always happy to play Penn Manor," Wenger said. "It will be interesting. We’ll see what we can do this time."
One thing they will surely try to do is have a more productive start than they did on Tuesday against E-town. The Lady Warriors had no corners and no shots in the opening 30 minutes, while the Lady Bears had just two corners, with no shots on goal.
"Honestly, to come out of that first half and neither team had a single shot on goal, that’s kinda crazy, I guess," Andy said. "I know the kind of caliber team he has, I know the kind of caliber team we have, and for him to not even have a corner, I was ecstatic. Our game plan was just to pressure the heck out of them."
The half-time adjustment for the Warwick girls was increase the pace and look to make quick passes. The strategy paid off with the Lady Warriors getting their first corner just 42 seconds into the stanza. One minute later, on their second corner, Marleise Emrhein’s shot was saved by E-town keeper Katelyn Keller. But Wenger gathered the rebound, curled to the right and wristed a hard, low shot into the left corner of the cage.
"I aimed for the near post – that’s not where it went," Wenger smiled. "It went through (Keller’s) legs, I’m pretty sure."
Warwick went on to build a 9-5 advantage in corners for the game, while outshooting the Lady Bears 7-2, all in the second half. Noelle Kephart nearly made it a two-goal lead with just over 20 minutes to go, but her reverse stick shot sailed just wide right.
"I said (to Andy), ‘You really frustrated us that first half," Bob said. "The second half, we handled it a little bit better."
Although the Lady Bears created a couple of scoring chances in the second half, Warwick keeper Kailynne Reinoehl kicked out both shots she faced to earn the shutout.
"This is not a loss to us," Andy said. "We made it to the quarter-finals of Leagues last year and now we made it a step further. That was a goal of ours. It’s just a building process."
Last Saturday, Wenger had a goal and two assists, lifting Warwick to a 4-1 win over Lancaster Mennonite in an L-L League quarter-final round playoff game at Ephrata Middle School.
Leading 1-0, the Lady Warriors broke it open with goals by Wenger and Jamie Martin in the final 10:45 of the first half.
"As a team, I thought our passing was really good," Derr said. "We were in the spaces and making some nice passing, so the team did a great job of playing together."
That was evident in the stats, with Warwick holding a 7-1 advantage in shots in the first half and 12-6 for the game. They also out-cornered the Lady Blazers 14-5. Center back Courtney Weaver deserved a lion’s share of the credit for keeping LMH in check, shutting down Lady Blazer star Carissa Gehman.
"We knew that they focused a lot on Carissa Gehman," Derr remarked, "so I said (to Courtney), ‘That’s the girl you’ve got. Don’t let her get the ball. If she does get the ball, then we’re on her right away,’ and she did that the entire game."
Wenger notched her first point of the game with 26:19 left in the first, setting up Noelle Kephart for the game’s first goal.
Later, Warwick created seven straight corner opportunities, and on the last one of those, Wenger pulled a rebound from Marleise Emrhein’s shot off of goalie Kelsey Troyer’s pads and scored with 10:45 left in the half to make it 2-0.
Martin’s tally nearly nine minutes later gave the Warwick girls a 3-0 lead at half.
"We tell our team, ‘On transition, sometimes you catch the other team sleeping,’" Derr said, "and (Jamie) just dribbled in and cracked the ball. They just weren’t ready. Good for her for catching that."
With only 5:16 elapsed in the second, Lucy Reed re-directed a perfect set-up from Wenger inside the circle to put Warwick up 4-0. Then with the outcome no longer in doubt, Gehman got LMH on the board with 5:56 left, but it was too little, too late for the Lady Blazers.
Kailynne Reinoehl and Gaby Spatz combined for four saves in goal, while Liz Wolfe added a defensive save for Warwick.
More LADY WARRIORS, page B-9