District dynasty

By on November 6, 2019

Copley scores five points, as Barons win third title in four years

HERSHEY – It was well worth waiting an extra day.Byrne

Heavy rain and threats of a tornado delayed, but could not stop the Manheim Central girls soccer team from defending its District Three Class 3A title.

Paced by a five-point night from Makenna Copley, sparked by an electrifying, attacking run by Tylee Stauffer and featuring highlight-reel goals from Isabella Wendler and Hannah Adair, the Barons (19-5) scored three times in 14 minutes of the second half to turn back a revenge-minded effort by Mechanicsburg, 3-0, Friday night at the Hersheypark Stadium.

The Wildcats (18-4), who entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed, dropped a 1-0 decision to Manheim in the 2018 final.
Manheim will open play in the PIAA State tournament Tuesday evening, taking on WPIAL (District 7) runner-up Plum in a 5 p.m. start at Cedar Crest.

The district crown is Manheim’s third in four years and, while the offense may have delivered the victory, its foundation was laid by a stalwart defensive achievement from the Barons’ back five of central defenders Tori Fahnestock and Autumn Greiner, wing backs Stauffer and Kelly Abrahamson and keeper Mia Reed.

While the Wildcats fashioned 22 offensive opportunities, leading to 10 shots on goal, Reed and company kept them out of the net for her 11th shutout of the year.
Included in that was a seven-minute span of the first half where Reed turned back four shots on goal and, just after the Barons’ first goal, a two-shot, two-save sequence.

They neutralized Mechanicsburg’s scoring tandem of Elena Hinkson and Lauren Costello, holding Hinkson to five shots on goal and Costello to two harmless entry tries and one shot that sailed high over the frame.

Manheim Central players Hannah Adair (3), Mia Reed (1), and Kelly Abrahamson (6) celebrate with their teammates last Friday after defeating Mechanicsburg for the District Three 3A title. Photo by Patrick Blain.

“The first half, we were a little slow,” Reed said. “But … those through balls didn’t happen in the second half which made a big difference.”

The big difference came in the second half for the offense as well.
Frustrated in the first half when Wendler hit the crossbar and Adair the post, the Barons were looking for a spark.
Stauffer provided it.

Challenging Hinkson for a 50/50 ball near midfield, Stauffer took control and took off.

“I just kind of tucked up on her back, got the ball and went outside,” Stauffer said.

She raced down the right sideline, taking the ball to the end line, then dropped a diagonal pass back to Copley, filling the slot.

“I think I was right outside the six, or at the six line,” Copley said. “I thought I was crossing it in, but then it just apparently went in the net.”

Don’t let her humility hide the fact, it was a well placed ball, catching keeper Arriel Frey leaning to her left as the ball sailed by to her right. Right into the corner of the goal.

Just over seven minutes later Copley and Wendler teamed to produce the second goal.

“We kind of made this little corner trick play at the beginning of the season,” Wendler said. “We actually (scored), with Hannah, against Northeastern.”

Instead of booming her service into the goal box, Wendler sent a short pass from the left flag to Copley, who dropped it back to Wendler rolling to her right.

“I saw (Makenna) waiting, I played it over to her and we both knew what was going to happen,” Wendler said.

Wendler took a settling touch, then fired a laser from 10 yards out, rising just inside and through the corner of the left post and the crossbar for a 2-0 lead.

As amazing as that goal was, Adair went one better.

Six minutes after Wendler’s gem, Copley won a ball out near midfield, carrying it up the middle of the Wildcat defense.

Reaching the top of the 20, Copley sent a square pass to Adair, closing down the left wing. Adair went near post, threading through a narrow opening between the post and Frey’s unsuccessful dive to save.

“Honestly, I don’t really know how it went in,” said Adair, who had the only goal in the Barons’ 1-0 2018 title game victory over these same Wildcats.

“I thought she was so close to the post. I shot it, and it ended up in the back of the net. Which is obviously where you want it.”
It was a sweet district valedictory for Copley, Greiner, Fahnestock, who were part of all three titles.

“Three for three!” said Copley.

For Wendler and Reed, who played on the 2016 title team, then took a sabbatical to hone their skills in the Development Academy, it’s title two. Two as well for Abrahamson, who broke into the lineup in 2017 as a sophomore.

“Obviously I haven’t been here since freshman year,” Wendler said, “but both wins are sweet. To get back here to Hersheypark , to put this game away towards the end, that was the best feeling of all.”

Reed echoed the emotion, saying, “It’s an experience I’ll never forget.”


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