Lady Warriors ousted from Districts with loss to Hempfield
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
It was a step in the right direction.
Or so the Warwick field hockey team thought.
When senior Autumn Hess swatted the ball out of the air into the back of the cage with just 6:20 elapsed in Tuesday’s game, the Lady Warriors had taken an apparent 1-0 lead.
And the Lady Warriors were believing that they had the start they wanted toward trying to beat L-L League rival Hempfield for the first time in three tries this season.
Hess’ goal, however, was waved off due to a foul call, and the game remained scoreless.
But Hempfield eventually snapped that tie with first-half goals by Kelsey Nolan and Kendall Beck and went on to beat Warwick 2-0 in a District Three Triple-A playoff first-round game at Penn Manor High School.
While the Lady Knights (16-5) advanced to Saturday’s quarterfinals to face the Conestoga Valley/Twin Valley winner, the Lady Warriors ended their season with an 11-9-1 record.
Unfortunately for Warwick, this marked the third time in four years that it was eliminated in the opening round of Districts. Hempfield also ousted the Lady Warriors early in 2009.
"I just feel bad for (the girls)," Warwick coach Bob Derr said. "Today, I’m not going to say we should have won, but I think we should have done a better job on offense and finishing in the circle. I’m not disappointed — we played hard, but it wasn’t enough. The difference was (Hempfield’s) defense and their ability to finish when they had the opportunities. And we didn’t do that. That’s our challenge for next year — try to find people that can finish, people that can score."
Hess thought that she had scored with the Lady Warriors taking the fifth of their five consecutive corners early in the opening half. The ball ricocheted off of a teammate’s stick at the right side of the cage to Hess in front, and the senior forward tapped it out of mid-air behind Hempfield freshman goalie Hollyn Barr but it was quickly disallowed.
"I don’t know. I’ve got to look at the film," Derr said when asked about the play later. "I’m not going to say I disagreed with the call. I don’t really know how that happened. All I know was the ball was popped up in the air and that was it. That might have made a big difference as far as momentum, you just don’t know. But that didn’t happen."
Although Warwick had a 6-3 edge in corners for the half — and 13-6 for the game — neither squad had the momentum until Nolan connected with 19:29 left in the stanza, capitalizing when Lady Warriors’ keeper Kailynne Reinoehl (3 saves) got screened by the defensive penalty corner unit. Megan Bupp picked up an assist on the go-ahead goal.
Just over 13 minutes later, Beck cashed in during a scramble in front of the cage, making the score 2-0 with an assist from Nolan.
But while the Lady Knights scored on two of their first three shots, Warwick managed only one first-half shot against Barr (5 saves) despite getting six penalty corners.
"I think it was (Hempfield) stepping up to the ball and we weren’t stepping up as much as them," senior Ericka Griffith said. "And they’re a very quick team, so if we don’t step up on them, then it’s not going to happen."
"We got outhustled a little bit," senior Kiersten Cepeda said.
Early in the second half, sophomores Jamie Martin and Marleise Emrhein both got away shots as the Lady Warriors earned the first two corners of the half. Senior Sara Brooks recorded a defensive save for Hempfield.
Then midway through the half, the Lady Knights threatened on a corner, but Griffith was at the goal to keep the ball out while registering a defensive save of her own. Both teams finished with six shots for the game.
But as the Hempfield girls protected their two-goal lead with time winding down, Warwick’s passing game became less crisp as they pressed to get on the scoreboard.
"We’d win the ball and then on our transition out, we’d turn the ball over," Derr said. "In the first half, we did pretty well with passing. But the second half, we didn’t do as well, especially the latter part of the second half … I think they were getting too anxious to get the ball up and get on attack because they knew they were down by two goals."
Down the stretch, Warwick had four corners in the final 7:25 of the game, but couldn’t connect against Hempfield’s defense.
With the loss, Warwick’s three seniors — Cepeda, Griffith and Hess — ended their high school playing careers. Although Cepeda and Griffith plan to play in college, Hess expects this to be her final field hockey game.
"It’s even more sad than usual," Hess said, "because I know this is going to be it forever."
"Our team is really close," Griffith said, "so it’s going to be hard leaving." More LADY WARRIORS, page B-8