Warwick drops losses to Ephrata, Penn Manor L-L berth hinges on game against CV
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
For Warwick coach Bob Derr, last Friday’s game against Ephrata brought back memories from the 2011 PIAA State finals.
Lady Mounts’ coach Rhoda Mountz admitted that the second half was a bit nerve-wracking, but also expressed confidence in her defense.
Ultimately, although Warwick had a big edge in both corners (12-0) and shots (7-1) in the second half, host Ephrata was able to protect their halftime lead and hold on for a 3-2 non-league win over the Lady Warriors.
Trailing by two at the break, the Lady Warriors got one back when Jamie Martin scored from Kiersten Cepeda with 12:13 to go in the game, but Warwick could get no closer.
"We couldn’t generate offense in the second half, so that was nerve-wracking," Mountz said. "So you hope (the defense) doesn’t falter there or that Warwick doesn’t get off just the perfect corner or something and it didn’t happen. So a little bit of luck was on our side there today."
Derr certainly would have welcomed a little luck, especially after Marleise Emrhein hit the crossbar with less than 2:00 left, marking the second time in the game that Warwick’s sophomore forward found iron.
"I was looking at the book and I said, ‘Ridiculous,’" Derr said. "Outcornered them, outshot them, outplayed them … they outscored us. Sounds like the State championship right there (when they outplayed Hempfield, but lost 2-1 in OT). You’ve got to take care of (business). Put the biscuit in the basket and you’ll win the game."
Ephrata put the biscuit in the basket three times in the first half while capitalizing on two of its three penalty corners. Senior Hannah Reimel connected twice, both times on corner opportunities, and senior Mackenzie Ruth sandwiched a goal in between to help put the Lady Mounts on top 3-1 at the half.
"We’ve struggled to execute and score on corners and we were able to do that today, so I was really pleased with that," Mountz said.
Reimel executed on a feed from Morial Pfautz on Ephrata’s first corner with just over four minutes elapsed, putting the biscuit in the basket with 25:48 left in the half.
Junior Liz Wenger got the equalizer for the Lady Warriors just over two minutes later, tipping the ball past Ephrata keeper Katie Hammaker with assists from Martin and Noelle Kephart.
But Ruth gave Ephrata the lead for keeps with 15:07 elapsed, scoring her ninth goal of the season when she beat Warwick keeper Kailynne Reinoehl (9 saves) inside the right post. Brooke Overly carried the ball down the right sideline and got the ball inside the circle, where Ruth did the rest.
"The first half, what killed us was that on defensive transition, our mids and forwards weren’t coming back to help out on defense, which didn’t give us any opportunity to get the ball out on the defensive end," Derr said. "Ephrata was having numbers up."
Mountz agreed with that assessment.
"I think I have more speed on the field than he does," she said, "so when that transition happened, my forwards are fast enough to get the ball down there and I have a lot of experience on the front line, so that pays off. Kenzie and Maria are both goal hungry to the cage … Kenzie had a beautiful shot in the first half. Her ability to contain the ball on her stick and shoot all in one motion is the way she scores a lot of her goals."
Reimel collected her second of the game, again off of a corner, to stretch the Lady Mounts’ lead to 3-1. Meredith Michel picked up an assist on the play.
Although the Lady Warriors only had a slim 8-7 edge in shots in the opening 30 minutes, they outcornered Ephrata 9-3, but struggled to capitalize on their opportunities.
It was more of the same in the second half, with Warwick getting outlet passes up the center of the field and keeping the Lady Mounts in their defensive end for large chunks of time. Cepeda’s shot went barely wide right early on, and Warwick threatened with four corners in the opening 10 minutes, but couldn’t put the ball past Hammaker.
"The second half was a little bit better getting shots off (on corners)," Derr said, "but (Ephrata)’s defense did a pretty good job of stopping the ball."
Finally, Martin got a clean shot away from the top of the circle on Warwick’s sixth corner of the half, cutting Ephrata’s lead to one with just over 12 minutes remaining.
"It just took us too long to get that second goal," Derr said. "We needed to get that a little bit sooner, even though the time was there."
Warwick ended up getting six more corners the rest of the way, and they had multiple shots, including a reverse stick attempt by Martin, but Ephrata’s defense was up to the task. Amanda Horst and Olivia Fagan each had a defensive save in the game, and Hammaker showed poise beyond her years between the pipes, making six of her nine saves in the second half.
"(Katie) doesn’t get flustered, she’s in control and very poised and aggressive," Mountz said.
"Even with some of those aerial shots," Derr said, "(Hammaker) just got enough of a glove on it to knock it over, which was a shame. I was looking for the equalizer."
What Derr was really looking for was to send the game to OT, where he thought that his girls might have had an opportunity to win.
"I thought in the overtime, we might be able to take them because there’s more space," Derr said. "I give my kids credit. They played hard. I mean, look at the second half. No corners, one shot (for Ephrata), compared to 11 corners, seven shots."
Ephrata and Warwick entered last Friday’s game as more than just back-yard rivals. They also came into action jockeying with one another for District seeding, with the Lady Mounts holding the 10th spot and Warwick just one behind in 11th.
Derr concern after that game was that his Lady Warriors would drop, perhaps into an unenviable quarter bracket.
"We’re going to drop in the District rankings on that one," Derr said. "Right now, I’m concerned about the District bracket and what bracket we’re going to get into. If you’re rated really low, you could be in the same quarter bracket as Lower Dauphin, Penn Manor, Central Dauphin, Hempfield …"
On Monday, Warwick lost its second in a row, as Penn Manor got a pair of goals from Eryn McCoy and shut out the Lady Warriors 3-0 on Grosh Field in Lititz.
The Lady Comets’ defense didn’t allow any shots on goal, while putting eight of their own at Warwick keeper Reinoehl (5 saves). Penn Manor also had an 11-4 advantage in corners.
Despite the loss, Warwick (6-5-0 L-L, 9-7-1 overall) still controls its own destiny for the L-L League playoffs. With a win over Conestoga Valley (5-4-2 L-L) yesterday (Wednesday), the Lady Warriors would grab the third and final L-L spot in Section One.
"We’ve got to beat CV to get into Leagues," Derr said. "It just comes down to that."
Last Thursday, Emrhein scored two goals, while Cepeda chipped in with a goal and two assists as Warwick hammered Cedar Crest 5-0 in a Section game in Cornwall.
Allie Lutz and Wenger both found the back of the cage in the first half, putting Warwick up 2-0 at the break. Emrhein added both of her tallies in the second, and Cepeda connected late to complete the scoring. More LADY WARRIORS, page B-3