Warriors start 2-0 with wins over L-S, Cedar Crest

By on March 27, 2019
Warwick senior midfielder Hilton Michael (left) takes a hit from Lampeter-Strasburg’s Colin Strubil while making a play in the Warriors’ 6-5 OT win last Saturday at Grosh Field in Lititz. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Warwick senior midfielder Hilton Michael (left) takes a hit from Lampeter-Strasburg’s Colin Strubil while making a play in the Warriors’ 6-5 OT win last Saturday at Grosh Field in Lititz. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

If local sports fans have watched Hilton Michael play football, they know about his talents.

This past season, the senior wideout finished with 647 receiving yards and nine touchdowns for a Warwick football team which won its first-ever District Three playoff game.

But it’s not only on the gridiron where he makes an impact.

A midfielder for the Warrior boys lacrosse team, Michael has developed into a true leader.

“The kids voted him a captain this year, so they obviously think that he’s someone they can lean on for guidance,” said first year coach Chris Schaffer, who also is a Warrior football assistant. “He’s committed, he doesn’t miss anything, he goes to all of our off-season workouts, and I’m just really proud of how he’s stepped up to be a leader.”

The 6-foot-2, 187-pound speedster certainly stepped up big last Saturday, connecting for the game-winning goal with 1:58 left in OT to lift the Warrior boys lacrosse to a season-opening 6-5 non-league victory over Lampeter-Strasburg at frigid, wind-swept Joseph Grosh Field in Lititz.

It was Michael’s fourth goal of the game, to go along with an assist.

“He’s just a heck of an athlete,” Schaffer said. “Without him, I don’t think much of the offense gets the firepower moving in that game.”

That firepower helped Warwick take a 2-0 lead in the opening quarter on goals by Josh Swift and Cayden Rihn, but L-S keeper Dom Reed was in mid-season form while making 22 saves and the Pioneers rallied to go up 3-2 at the half.

That was the first of three one-goal leads for Lampeter-Strasburg, but Michael’s goal with 3:09 left in regulation tied it 5-all, and then he added the game-winner with 2:02 elapsed in OT, giving Schaffer his first career coaching win.

“It was a little nerve-wracking going into overtime and everything,” Schaffer said, “but it felt great. I was ecstatic. I told the guys it’s something I’m always going to remember, especially that group of guys that won it for us and pushed ourselves forward there.”

The group of guys that Warwick has this spring includes two first-year starters at attack in Swift and Thatcher Miller, in addition to a young defensive line of junior Jon Bergh, and sophomores Owen Campbell, Nate Maher and Colton Miller in front junior goalkeeper Alex Epple.

“They’re young, they’re learning,” Schaffer said, “but I’ll be honest, without them, I don’t think the score stays 6-5 because they did a really good job of playing 6-on-6 defense with them.”

In tense moments in the fourth quarter, Epple stood tall, robbing the Pioneers’ Joey Jordan and Caden Wise to keep the Warriors’ hopes alive. In all, Epple finished with eight stops.

“There were one or two in the fourth right on the doorstep of the goal that Alex rotated and made some big saves and gave us a chance to go down and play in overtime,” Schaffer said, “because without that, we’re losing the game. He played huge for us.”

The Warriors had four man-up opportunities in the first quarter, and Swift’s goal with 7:29 elapsed, on a helper from Michael, made it 1-0. Less than two minutes later, Rihn’s tally, from Justin Gerhart, doubled the advantage to 2-0 after one.

It could have been worse for L-S, it not for the play of Reed between the pipes.

“That goalie really just stood tall for them, and to me,” Schaffer said, “really kept them in the game.”

The Pioneers’ attack started to chip away when Conner Nolt converted on an assist from Wise with 9:22 left in the half. Stewart McClain then tied it less than four minutes later, and Jordan’s goal, with a helper from Noah Patterson, gave Lampeter-Strasburg its first lead, 3-2, with 4:40 left in the half.

Warwick, though, continued to get opportunities. Early in the third, Michael hit the right post and then Reed stopped Carter Davis from close range.

“The big thing was we were just trying to stay positive and make sure that we continue to do the things that we’re practicing and do the little things right on our end,” Schaffer said. “If you do those little things right, what we’re preaching is that it will work out for you and then the end opportunity is to get a W. Everything fell in our place, which was awesome because we just kept (fighting) back at it.”

Sure enough, Michael’s first goal came at the 10:32 mark of the third, unassisted, to tie it 3-all.

Jordan then put L-S back up with a goal at the left post, making it 4-3 going to the fourth.

There, Reed made a nice save on Austin Barto, but a short time later, the Pioneer keeper couldn’t stop Michael from tying it 4-4 with 4:32 left.

Patterson’s goal on a man-up situation put L-S back in front 5-4 only 40 seconds later, but Michael again wouldn’t be denied, this time on a screamer into the left corner at the 3:09 mark.

“(Hilton)’s just such a great athlete,” Schaffer said. “He’s just making the most of his senior season, which is awesome.”

Epple was awesome while drawing a double penalty against L-S with :47.1 remaining.

Although Warwick couldn’t capitalize during the rest of regulation, it did midway through the OT period when Michael capped a big day with the game-winning goal.

“To me, it’s a game of runs,” Schaffer said. “I think (L-S) went on the biggest (going up 3-2). So we had to answer, we had to chip away at that one at a time, so that was our mentality — one goal at a time. Keep this close and obviously, we were ready for a dogfight at that point.”

***

The Warriors carried the momentum from that win over L-S into their Section One opener Tuesday against Cedar Crest, as Conor Adams scored four goals and Josh Swift added three in a 9-5 victory at Grosh Field in Lititz.

Alex Epple had another big game between the pipes for the Warriors (1-0 league, 2-0 overall), stepping up with six clutch saves in the contest.

Adams and Swift each scored twice in the opening 12 minutes when Warwick took a 4-1 lead.

Justin Gerhart then got in the scoring column in the second, as Warwick took a 5-2 lead into the half.

With 1:17 elapsed in the third, Adams notched a hat trick on an assist from Hilton Michael, but the Falcons — led by John Lux’s hat trick — quickly answered to remain within three, 6-3.

But Crest would get no closer. The Warriors went on to score three of the final five goals to clinch it.

Michael also scored in the win for Warwick.

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