District champs! Adair’s goal lifts MC in the finals

By on November 7, 2018
 Manheim Central players (left to right) Hannah Adair, Kelli Kreider, and Maddie Carper celebrate after shutting out Mechanicsburg 1-0 for the District Three title at Hersheypark Stadium last Thursday. Photo by Missi Mortimer


Manheim Central players (left to right) Hannah Adair, Kelli Kreider, and Maddie Carper celebrate after shutting out Mechanicsburg 1-0 for the District Three title at Hersheypark Stadium last Thursday. Photo by Missi Mortimer

As soon as the ball left Hannah Adair’s foot last Thursday night, she had a sense of confidence.

“Right away, I knew exactly where it was going,” the Manheim Central freshman said.. “I felt so good about it.”

Where it was going was into the right corner of the net behind Mechanicsburg keeper Lindsey Costello with 30:14 remaining in the game.

And thanks to some clutch second-half saves from keeper Kelli Kreider, Adair’s goal turned out to be the difference, as Manheim Central went on to defeat the previously-unbeaten Lady Wildcats 1-0 to claim the District Three 3A championship at Hersheypark Stadium.

It’s the second District crown in three years for the Lady Barons, who improved to 20-3.

“It’s so great to win,” Adair said. “I hope that we can do this for years to come, but I know how important it was for the upperclassmen. So I’m just so excited that we could all win another title.”

With the Central girls’ banquet planned for last Sunday night, coach Andrew Stoltzfus knew that he would have some hardware to bring with him.

“I was just happy with a Section, so this is pretty special,” the Lady Barons’ second-year boss said. “To still being playing, having two trophies to display (at the banquet) … I think we still look back and wish we had the League semi-final back again, but it’s been a special season so far, and I’m just so happy it’s not over yet.”

Indeed, Manheim Central had to turn the page Tuesday night when it faced District Seven runner-up Mars in an opening-round State game.

But last Thursday night, in the shadows of Hersheypark’s Great Bear roller coaster, it was all about savoring a sweet victory.

“It’s amazing because we all worked so hard,” Kreider said. “We just came out here and we worked our butts off and we wanted that (title) so badly. Us seniors knew what it felt like, so that helped us and kept us going.”

Kreider and the rest of the seniors were on the field in 2016 when the Lady Barons knocked off Northern York 3-1 for the crown.

But thanks to Costello and Kreider between the pipes, goals weren’t as plentiful in this one.

On the second of MC’s four first-half-corners, Maddie Carper had a shot at the goal and then Makenna Copley’s chance was stopped by a Lady Wildcat defender with 33:06 on the clock.

Mechanicsburg, with the wind at their backs in the first 40 minutes, generated a 6-4 advantage in corners, in addition to building a 5-4 edge in shots.

“They played the long ball through and we had to be careful of that,” Carper said. “But Tylee Stauffer did well and we contained it.”

Stauffer particularly did well against Mechanicsburg’s dangerous freshman forward Halle Engle to keep her in check.

“As we watched film, we knew (Engle) was the player who’s going to beat us if they’re going to beat us,” Stoltzfus said. “But we knew Tylee’s out there, so we felt comfortable. We didn’t adjust our defense at all. We just knew that when they go out there, they were going to take care of it.”

Eventually, with 13:50 elapsed, the Lady Wildcats gave MC a scare when Abbey Engle’s pass went through the goal mouth, with no one there to finish.

Then in the final 4:51 of the half, Kreider was equal to the task against shots from Meg Schrass and Lainie Anderson, keeping it scoreless.

“(Kelli)’s amazing, I love her,” Carper said. “She had such a great game. Kick saves, breakaway saves … she shut them down.”

In the second half, Adair blasted a shot which was saved by Costello with 32:45 remaining.

But it was a different story a couple minutes later.

After a clear by the Lady Barons’ defense — consisting of Stauffer, Brittany Benner, Tori Fahnestock and and Alayna Thompson — Carper picked the ball up in the midfield and made eye contact with Adair, who finished it from 22 yards out with 30:14 remaining.

“We saw each other, I laid it off for her, she took a touch and nailed it home,” Carper recalled.

“Maddie and I were making a run side-by-side and she played a perfect ball to me,” Adair said. “The defender was following her, so I just took it inside and saw an opportunity to shoot, I took it, and it just went in for me.”

For Adair, it was her 12th goal of the season.

“Definitely top three (of my career), at least,” she smiled. “This is so big. I haven’t had a ton of big-game goals, but my very first high school goal was pretty big for me too.”

It was one of eight shots for the Lady Barons, to 11 for Mechanicsburg.

And although the Lady Wildcats had the advantage in that category, Kreider proved to be a big equalizer for Manheim Central, stopping all 11 shots that she faced.

Engle threatened to get the tying goal with 20:27 left, as she came down the left wing and unleashed a shot, but Kreider stood tall, getting her hand on the ball, which trickled wide of the post.

“(Engle) is a fast girl,” Kreider said. “She came around, I just stepped out, cut the angle off, got my hand down and kept it out.”

“When you play this late in the season,” Stoltzfus said, “you’re not going to get away without a team getting any opportunities. We knew they were going to come. We were going to try to limit them as much as we could. (Engle)’s a great forward out there. She got by us twice, got open looks, but Kelli did exactly what she’s there for. There’s a reason why she’s played four years of varsity soccer and all that kinda built up to this performance tonight.”

Just over five minutes later, Mechanicsburg found itself with another golden opportunity when senior Isabelle Martin got an open look. Again, however, Kreider stepped up to preserve the Lady Barons’ one-goal lead.

“I was out of position, so I didn’t get a good hand on it,” Kreider said, “but I got my foot out there in time.”

Manheim Central answered with back-to-back corners — the second of those with 4:35 to go — but couldn’t add to their lead.

The Lady Wildcats had a slim 9-8 edge in corner kicks and Engle got one final chance with 2:07 left, but her shot was saved by Kreider and the Central girls held on to clinch their title.

It was the 11th shutout of the season for Kreider and the Lady Barons’ defense.

“We feel if we can get two goals that we’re in a good spot,” Stoltzfus said. “Tonight, we only got one, but the defense did the rest of the work. All season, we’ve been a great offensive team, but the defense is right there with them.”

Afterward, as Stoltzfus held the District championship trophy, he searched for the right words.

“I’m speechless,” Stoltzfus said. “That was about as good as we’ve played this season. It was amazing how little pressure there seemed to be on them. They were just ready. Top to bottom, it was a fantastic effort.”

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