Barons shut out Cocalico to reach District quarters

By on October 25, 2017
Junior Zach Reed, who scored the Barons’ first goal in their 2-0 win over Garden Spot in Monday’s District playoff game, battles Eagle junior defender Grant Mellinger for the ball. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Junior Zach Reed, who scored the Barons’ first goal in their 2-0 win over Garden Spot in Monday’s District playoff game, battles Eagle junior defender Grant Mellinger for the ball. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Zach Reed was zeroing in on the lower corner.

The ball went top shelf, instead.

It didn’t matter, however, as the Manheim Central junior forward still got the result he wanted, which was snapping a scoreless duel against Cocalico.

And as things turned out, that goal with 32:08 left in the second half turned out to be the game-winner for the 7th-seeded Barons in their 2-0 shutout of the resilient 10th-seeded Eagles in a District Three Triple-A first-round game in windy conditions at Mannheim’s Elden Rettew Field on Monday night.

Asked if he’s scored a bigger goal in his career, Reed said smiling, “That one was pretty special, but I don’t know. That one felt good.”

Gareth Kemp, who picked up a pretty assist on Reed’s tally, added an insurance goal on a penalty kick with 2:36 remaining, helping Manheim Central (11-5-2) advance to Thursday’s District quarterfinals against No. 2-seeded Susquehannock, a 3-1 winner over Garden Spot, at Hersheypark Stadium at 5:30 p.m.

In two earlier meetings this fall, MC and Cocalico split, with each taking a 1-0 win on their home turf.

“In District playoff games, your records don’t mean anything,” MC coach Rod Brenize said. “The name of the game is just do what you’ve got to do to advance because all the teams from here on out are good. Cocalico is one of those teams and Cocalico is a good team.”

Indeed, the Eagles went from being a five-win team in 2015 to earning 10 wins this fall. Unfortunately for Cocalico (10-9), though, three starters — back Chris Muraco and midfielders Owen Fryberger and Nick Stauffer — were either out or playing limited minutes on Monday. But head coach Derek Sipe tipped his hat to the Barons.

“We had some guys that played more minutes than they normally would have and I thought they held their own and battled,” Sipe said. “Manheim’s a good team, they have a couple difference-makers and at the end of the day, those difference makers made enough plays to win the game.”

MC keeper Mason Nissley certainly made a clutch play in the first half which kept the game scoreless, robbing Cocalico freshman forward Aaron Weitzel on a diving save to his left with 28:33 to go in the opening half.

That was the Eagles’ only shot on goal in a game in which Manheim Central had the upper hand in possession, field position and scoring opportunities.

“If (Nissley)’s a little late and that turns out the other way,” Sipe said, “1-0 is a big different result and who knows from there? That was a big moment in the game for them. I mean, it’s not easy as a goalkeeper to not face a whole lot of action and then all of a sudden have to make a save like that and he was up for it.”

With the wind at their backs in the opening half, the Barons built a 5-0 edge in corners kicks — 9-2 for the game — and Cocalico keeper Peyton Stetter denied Carson Brenize and Reed from close range. For the game, the Eagles’ junior goalie finished with seven stops.

“I thought we were much better at keeping the ball, much better, I thought, at taking the aggressive tone in the game,” Brenize said, “and typically when you take the aggressive tone in the game and you dictate control, you end up with the result in your favor.”

Sipe admitted that his team was playing somewhat more defensive in the opening 40 minutes against the elements, looking to survive and get themselves into the second half when the wind was in their favor.

“We bent several times, but we didn’t break,” he said. “I thought we were in a good spot going into halftime.”

Sure enough, the Eagles got their first corner of the game with just 38 seconds elapsed in the half, but they couldn’t capitalize on an insert from the left side by Kjell Mugge.

Then just over seven minutes later, Kemp worked some magic in the middle of the field, dribble-driving at a defender, then kicking the ball off to Reed on the left wing. Reed darted back toward the middle and blasted a laser over Stetter to get the Barons on the scoreboard.

“I cut in and just had to beat one man,” recalled Reed, who leads the Barons with 13 goals this season. “(Cocalico’s defenders) all collapsed on Gareth, he played a gorgeous ball right through and all I had to do was finish it. I give all the credit to him. I couldn’t have had it without him.”

“Zach has really come on in the second half of the season,” Brenize said. “He put a beautiful finish in the back of the net … I was glad we got it. I think the game would have changed if (Cocalico) would have gotten a goal first before us. We said at halftime that we have to win the first 10 minutes of the second half. Mission accomplished there.”

While generating a 9-1 advantage in shots, the Barons continued to apply pressure. They notched four more corners in the final 25:45, and then following a Cocalico foul inside the box with 2:36 to go, Kemp buried a penalty kick to put it out of reach.

“First of all, hats off to Cocalico. Coach Sipe has done a great job with the program,” Brenize said. “We’re going to just enjoy this win for the next couple of hours and then we’ll find out who we play (in the District quarterfinals) and we’ll figure it out.”

Cocalico, meanwhile, will start figuring out plans for the 2018 season and trying to make a deeper run in the post-season.

“We told (our players) it stinks in the moment, it feels like you got punched in the stomach,” Sipe said, “but when you look over the whole what they were able to accomplish, not only this year but especially the seniors from where they started in this program to now, it’s just a night and day difference. What they did for the program I think we’ll feel for years to come and I told the other guys our goal next year is to avoid this — to get here and move past it, to one up where we were able to go this year and what we were able to achieve, and I think we have a good group back that’s going to be hungry and able to do that.”

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