Greiner’s two goals lift MC in Districts

By on October 24, 2018
Manheim  Central  goalkeeper  Kelli  Kreider  scoops  up  the  ball as Cocalico forward Saige Musser attacks the net in Monday’s District Three Triple-A first-round playoff game. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Manheim Central goalkeeper Kelli Kreider scoops up the ball as Cocalico forward Saige Musser attacks the net in Monday’s District Three Triple-A first-round playoff game. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Whenever possible, Manheim Central is trying to get the ball to Erin Greiner.

You can hardly blame them.

After all, the sophomore target forward had scored in five of the Lady Barons’ last seven games, combining for six goals and six assists.

“Erin’s really found a comfort zone getting behind the defense and finding her teammates,” MC coach Andrew Stoltzfus said. “She makes things happen.”

That was certainly the case again Monday night, when Greiner connected twice to help lead 2nd-seeded Manheim Central to a 3-0 shutout of No. 15 Cocalico in a District Three Triple-A first-round playoff game at Elden Rettew Field In Manheim.

Count an assist on Makenna Copley’s first-half tally and Greiner had a hand in all three of the Lady Barons’ goals.

“Our girls worked really hard,” Cocalico boss Dan Hogan said. “It’s just (Manheim Central) has some good skilled athletic kids that are hard to account for. They have some really good soccer players that play a lot of high-level club soccer.”

The Lady Eagles, who ended their season with an 8-7-3 record, were playing at a high level of their own heading into the post-season, having gone 7-2-2 in their last 11 games.

Stoltzfus knew his team would have its hands full against Cocalico. They began preparations the very next day after suffering a 2-1 double-OT loss to Conestoga Valley last Tuesday, Oct. 16 in the L-L playoff semi-finals.

“We wanted them right back on the field, not to dwell on that loss and just start getting our mind toward Cocalico,” said Stoltzfus, whose squad will face 7th-seeded Northern (13-5-1) Thursday at 7 p.m. at Manheim Central in a rematch of the 2016 District Three final.

Early on, with the play going back-and-forth, Cocalico earned the game’s opening corner kick with 28:20 left on the first-half clock.

But Central (17-3) eventually started to take the upper hand, and the Lady Barons’ solid corps of midfielders — consisting of Maddie Carper, Makenna Copley and Autumn Greiner — was a big reason for that.

Carper’s free kick was saved by Lady Eagle sophomore keeper Madeline Mattos with nearly 22 minutes elapsed, but then Copley’s goal, on an assist from Greiner, with 16:38 left in the half gave MC a 1-0 lead.

“I thought we had to find some way to limit what they do in the midfield because they are so good there,” Hogan said, “and I think for a half, we did a decent job of it.”

Although Manheim Central had all five of the game’s shots in the opening 40 minutes, to go along with a 3-1 advantage in corner kicks, it remained a one-goal game going to the intermission. Mattos (8 saves) deserved a lot of credit for that, as she robbed Manheim Central senior Elizabeth Levy, making a diving stop on a blast from the left wing with just over 10 minutes left on the clock and then cleaning up a ball on a 1v1 with Lady Baron freshman Hannah Adair.

“We knew they were going to be tough,” Stoltzfus said. “Cocalico is always a hard-working team. It doesn’t matter how good or bad they are. They’re going to make you earn it.”

Each team had a corner kick in the first eight minutes of the second half, with Adair shooting a little bit high over the crossbar for the Lady Barons.

But then on a long kick from the back, Greiner outlegged a Cocalico defender to the ball and then deposited a low shot inside the left post with 31:45 remaining to double the Central girls’ lead to 2-0.

“(Trailing only) 1-0, we were actually pretty positive at halftime,” Hogan said. “We thought, ‘Hey, we’re not going to go out and score eight goals on anybody, but 1-0, we’re still in it.’ We have some dangerous kids, and we did get some good chances, a couple in the second half. But I think the second goal made it tough. It made us realize that we;re going to have to do something that we probably haven’t done all year, at least not against a team of this high quality.”

One of those good chances for Cocalico came when Saige Musser, who led the team in scoring with six goals and four assists this fall, got a breakaway against MC keeper Kelli Kreider with just over 29 minutes left. Kreider, though, was equal to the task, making one of her two saves.

“We had a great pass from Kaia Martz and Saige came cutting across like we’ve been working on lately and she took a good opportunity at it,” Hogan said. “The keeper (Kreider) just made a nice save and their defender, I think, just got enough of a nudge on her that made it hard to finish.”

Levy appeared to score the Lady Barons’ third goal with 26:22 left, putting home a rebound, but it was waved off due to an offsides call. A couple minutes later, Greiner’s header on Carper’s corner kick went just wide right.

Finally, though, Greiner finished a scoring chance with 9:50 to go to put it out of reach, converting on a rebound after Mattos made the initial save on a blast by Adair from the right wing.

“(Erin) always turns it up in the playoffs,” Stoltzfus said. “She always finds the danger areas, so whether it’s on a cross or a punt from the keeper or a rebound from another shot, she always seems to pop up wherever the danger is.”

Overall, Manheim Central outshot the Lady Eagles 12-2 and held a 7-2 advantage in corner kicks.

“Overall, it was a solid performance,” Stoltzfus said. “It kinda carried over from CV that we didn’t finish well, but they wanted it, they played well in the middle of the field, and kept pressuring until we got those goals.”

Hogan credited Manheim Central’s balance for keeping his team’s scoring chances to a minimum.

“They’re just so solid from front to back,” he said. “And they have some girls that were able to keep up with some of the speed that we have. We are pretty quick up top and they limited our opportunities, that’s for sure.”

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