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Rissinger’s overtime goal lifts Lady Warriors to 11th league title
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Warwick’s second corner of OT didn’t exactly unfold the way it was designed.
But the Lady Warriors aren’t complaining.
Showing a keen sense of improvisation with just 5:19 left in the extra session last Thursday, the Warwick girls got a tap-in goal from senior Emma Rissinger on a semi-lift from Alyssa Manley, and that was the difference in a 2-1 victory over Penn Manor for the Lancaster-Lebanon League championship at Warwick High School in Lititz.
"That was a little muffed up penalty corner, but it still turned out OK, so I’ll take it," Warwick coach Bob Derr said. "I’ll have to look at the film. Maybe I’ve got to do that again."
When it comes to winning L-L championships, the Lady Warriors (17-3) have certainly done that time and time again. Thursday’s win gave them their 11th crown in program history – and their first since 2006 – while snapping Penn Manor’s two-year reign at the top.
"It’s just the best feeling ever," Rissinger said. "This is our last home game at Warwick as seniors. We haven’t been to the League finals since our freshman year and we lost that game (2-1 to Donegal). This is kinda redemption even though it’s been a long time, but we just wanted to get one League title under our belts before we left."
The seed for Warwick’s victory in the L-L finals might have been planted by its 2-0 decision over the Comets in the final week of the regular season. Up until that point, the WHS girls had not defeated Penn Manor since the 2009 season. So clearing that hurdle provided the Lady Warriors with a lot of confidence when the two teams met again.
"We’ve had trouble with Penn Manor in past years, but this year after our win in league play, we just knew that we could do it this time," said sophomore forward Liz Wenger, whose goal with just 3:15 left in regulation pulled Warwick even 1-1 and forced overtime.
Asked if the players had talked about their earlier win over the Comets prior to the game last Thursday, Wenger said, "Not really, but I think it was in the back of everyone’s mind that yes, we can do this. They’re not unbeatable."
While Warwick traveled a long road getting past the Comets, they also had a lengthy journey leading up to the 2012 season following a disappointing loss in the first round of Districts last year.
"We went through a heck of a lot this spring," Derr said. "We had a lot of team building sessions and a lot of drama on the team, but they got through that and they came out of it and I think this is a great reward for them to realize, ‘Hey, if you do stay together and fight for the same things and love each other not only on the field, but off the field, good things will happen.’"
"Coach (Stacy) Rucci had this workout program that we did all summer. Man, it was hard," Wenger smiled. "I was in shape for pre-season though, so I’m not complaining … (Plus) last year, we had little petty issues, whereas this year I think we worked them all out and we’re so much closer this year."
They remained close even following a first half in which Penn Manor controlled the edge in play. The Comets had five corners and four shots on goal in the opening 30 minutes, while shutting the Lady Warriors out in both categories. Warwick senior keeper Alexis Charles had three of her six saves in the first half, but PM opened the scoring with 10:35 elapsed, as Lizzie Frombach’s shot glanced off of Charles’ pads to Shannon Sloss, who slammed it home.
"I just didn’t know what to expect," Derr said. "The first two times we played them, both games were very different. There was a lot of scoring in the first game just going back and forth. The second game, there was very little scoring until the second half. Then today was pretty much the same thing. But (Penn Manor) came out very strong. I’ve got to commend Matt Soto and his coaching staff and their team. They are a very strong offensive team."
The Lady Warriors, meanwhile, were trying to find their offense as they went to the break trailing 1-0. But with renewed focus on their passing game in the second half, Warwich started to create chances. They manufactured two penalty corners in the opening minute, but Sloss did a solid job as the Comets’ flier to disrupt things.
"I think we were rushing it inside the 25," Wenger said. "I think we just needed to take a breath, control the ball and find our players."
"The passing definitely got better and once we started passing and started getting corners in that second half, then things were happening," Derr said.
Rissinger, in fact, appeared to score the game-tying goal with 22:05 remaining, but the official’s whistle blew for a penalty corner just a moment earlier.
"(The official) should have held (the whistle) just a little bit longer," Derr said. "I’m sure she knows that. Both umpires are very good umpires and you’re going to have those kinds of breaks in a game. You just hate to have that happen."
The non-goal loomed big when Penn Manor generated five straight corners within a two-minute time span just a short time later. Charles and the Lady Warriors’ defense stood tall, however.
"I’ve got to give my team credit, especially my defense who held strong," Derr said. "There was one set of five defensive corners in a row that we defended in the second half, and you just can’t sustain that kind of offense against you and try to win games."
Derr finally got a timeout with 16:29 left and Warwick righted the ship, which eventually led to the equalizer with 26:45 elapsed. The WHS girls had a 7-6 edge in corners during the second half, and on the final of those, senior Emily Harting hit the crossbar on a lift over Penn Manor keeper Karla Mylin. The ball dropped near Wenger, however, and she pushed it into the back of the cage. Both squads had three shots in the second half.
"At first, I didn’t know where it went," Wenger said. "But I turned around and saw it was off to the side behind the keeper and I made sure I had my stick on it and slammed it into the goal."
The Lady Warriors caught a break when PM’s Kayla Herr received a yellow card with 2:41 left on the clock, leaving the Comets one player short for the remainder of regulation. That also carried into the first 2:19 of OT when the second half ended in a 1-1 tie.
For Warwick, going to the 7-on-7 overtime was the first time they have done so this season. Although Derr saw room for improvement in the OT, Warwick had the game’s only two corners during that time.
"We practice overtime during practice, so it’s not like we’re not used to it," Rissinger said. "But it’s a totally different situation during an actual game and especially during a game like the League finals. There’s nerves there, but you’re also pumpbed up."
On the second of their OT corners, though, the Lady Warriors showed nerves of steel. Harting received the insert pass at the top of the circle and dished the ball to the left to Manley, whose semi-lift reached Rissinger on one hop at the right post. From there, Warwick’s senior forward redirected the ball into the open cage for her 15th – and biggest – goal of the season.
"I think (Alyssa) knew I was there because we practice our corners, so we know where everyone goes in the circle," Rissinger said. "So she knew I was going to be cutting in that way. I don’t know if she knew it was going to be an open pass, but it was a perfect flick." More LADY WARRIORS, page B-8