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Wenger, Daniel earn First-Team All-State honors
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
Liz Wenger didn’t necessarily have the kind of offensive stats that would have placed her among the L-L League leaders this fall.
But opponents of Warwick’s field hockey team certainly know what the junior center midfielder brought to the field.
"Anyone who played us, they know," Warwick coach Bob Derr said.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to L-L insiders that Wenger received First-Team All-State recognition after helping to lead the Lady Warriors to the League and District Three Triple-A playoffs.
"That was pretty exciting," Derr remarked. "We moved her from a forward position which she played (in 2011) as a sophomore into the center midfield position. That and your center backs are pretty much the quarterbacks of the team. (That says a lot) because they’ve got to control the middle. You want to make sure your middle of the field is strong."
The All-State selections, which were released last week, also included L-L stars Sarah Brooks, Megan Bupp, Sarah Helgeson and Kelsey Nolan of Hempfield, Emily and Eryn McCoy and Shannon Sloss of Penn Manor, and Moriah Pfautz of Ephrata on the Triple-A First-Team list.
Second-Team All-State players included Manheim Central’s Paige Daniel and Penn Manor’s Lizzie Frombach and Rachel Suter.
"I was really happy for (Paige)," Manheim Central coach Becca Keener remarked, "because I think she really deserves it. She was a leader. She was a huge part of success. She really was."
So too was Wenger when it came to Warwick. One of her best attributes, according to Derr, is her athleticism, which she uses not only to transition into the Lady Warriors’ attack, but also to get back on defense when the opponent counters.
"She’s just a tremendous athlete," Derr said of Wenger, who also earned Section One First-Team honors this fall. "She’s strong, she’s quick, she’s fast and that just shows up on the field immediately. She really stands out that way because she has those physical talents. When she came up as a freshman, it was just simply raw, physical talent. She could go fast with the ball, but she had trouble changing speeds and then trying to get around people … She had to work on her elimination skill and ball handling skills to find ways to get around people. And that is the part that really developed in the past year. Between her sophomore and junior years, she has become a strong threat with the ball."
Wenger finished the 2012 season with seven assists and five goals, good for 17 points. But where she made her biggest impact was averaging about 20 possession passes per game, along with five or six tackles.
"Liz reads the defense very well. She has a good game sense," Derr remarked. "She can picture well how things are going to develop. And she can put the ball exactly into the space where it needs to go for someone to run onto it, which makes her a threat that way, that she doesn’t really need to have the ball. She just passes it into the right spot for someone to then make a good finish, whether it be in the circle or taking the ball down the field."
Her teammates no doubt appreciate that ability to put the ball right where it needs to be. Another thing they love about Wenger is her leadership quality. In fact, Derr said that she was his first-ever underclassmen to be elected a captain after earning that honor for the 2012 team.
"(Liz) is a great leader, and not only just on the field and in practice and stuff, but I think she’s a good role model and a good leader off the field too," Derr said. "Just the way she conducts herself and how she works with her teammates, she can lead without being threatening."
With Wenger returning for one more year of eligibility, the Lady Warriors will certainly benefit from Wenger’s leadership again in 2013.
"I’m excited to see what she does next season," Derr said. "There’s a few things that she needs to address and if she gets those straightened out, she’s going to be even more of a dominant force in the middle of the field."
Unfortunately for Manheim Central, though, Daniel will be moving on from the Lady Barons, where she will leave big shoes to fill. Like Wenger, Daniel also played at the center midfield position, and she was in the middle of everything that Central did both offensively and defensively.
Keener said that Daniel easily met all of the credentials to qualify for All-State honors.
"I was very happy for her," Keener remarked. "I was like, ‘I don’t know how they can’t take her.’ She was our corner hitter, so she would capitalize on a lot of goals, and if she didn’t score the goal, she was the one who probably started the play that led to the goal. Defensively, she was always getting back, she was always putting pressure on the ball and she was on defensive corners every time, no matter what … I don’t know what we would have done without her this year. She was definitely a big part of everything."
A Section Two First-Team All-Star, Daniel finished the season with five goals and nine assists. In her career, she found the back of the cage 25 times, while adding 17 helpers.
"Sometimes on offensive corners, I wouldn’t call a play and I’d say, ‘Paige, you do it as you see it,’" Keener said. "She’s a smart hockey player and I could just trust her to do what she needed to do, sometimes without having to ask her. Great qualities."
After helping to lead Central to a 9-9-1 record and a District Three Triple-A play-in appearance in her first season as the Lady Barons’ coach, Keener knows that one of her top priorities for 2013 will be finding a replacement for Daniel.
"She’s going to be a hard spot to fill," Keener said. "I need to find someone, though, who can shoot on corners and make decisions like she can. And I need someone who’s just as good as defensively and offensively to run that center mid spot. It’s going to be really hard to find someone who can do those things. She will be a hard act to follow." More ALL-STATE HOCKEY, page B-2