Making history: Manheim Central girls reach District finals

By on November 2, 2016
Senior Taylor Noll (left) goes on the attack in Manheim Central’s District quarterfinal game against ELCO last Wednesday. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Senior Taylor Noll (left) goes on the attack in Manheim Central’s District quarterfinal game against ELCO last Wednesday. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

During the Manheim Central girls soccer practice last Saturday, head coach John Shetromph pulled aside senior forward Taylor Noll for a discussion.

Actually, it was more like a pep talk.

“Taylor’s had opportunities, (the goals) just haven’t come,” Shetromph said, “and we had a good chat, as far as, ‘You just need to work through it and it will happen. Go at it hard, take the risk and good things will happen.’”

They certainly did on Monday night.

Noll scored a pair of goals, including one with just 1:40 elapsed, and the 4th-seeded Manheim Central girls ripped top-seeded Fleetwood 6-0 in the District Three Triple-A semi-finals at Cedar Crest’s Arnold Field at Earl Boltz Stadium in Cornwall.

Besides handing the Lady Tigers (22-1) their first loss of the season, Central (17-4) also punched its ticket to the District finals for the first time ever. They will play 2nd-seeded Northern York (21-1) in the championship game tonight (Thursday) at 7 p.m. at Hersheypark Stadium.

“We’re usually a second-half team,” Noll said, “so it’s great to see our team play a full 80 minutes. I think we’re realizing that we’re at the end of the line here in Districts and we wanted to make history.”

The Lady Barons also wanted to avenge a 3-1 loss to Fleetwood in the District Three quarter-finals last year. Kiera Wells chipped in with two goals, while Kayla Herr added a goal and two assists, helping MC accomplish just that.

“We definitely did not play our best last year and we had a loss for it, but I think the team was mature tonight and came out just wanting to beat them and get our win back,” Noll said. “I think we were mentally there, we were physically there tonight and I think we just played a great game.”

Noll did her part to get the ball rolling in the right direction for Central. Accepting a pass from Herr on the right wing, she buried a shot into the left corner of the net behind Fleetwood keeper Riley Scepansky for a 1-0 lead with 38:20 left in the opening half.

“It was a perfect pass by Kayla, I turned around and it was just me and the goal and I saw the left corner, the keeper wasn’t ready and it went in,” Noll recalled. “I was like, ‘Yeah, whew.’”

That was just the start of an effort in which the Lady Barons outshot Fleetwood 9-3. In the process, they also kept Berks County scoring leader Sydney Lobb, who has 24 goals, off the scoresheet. Within the first five minutes, the Lady Tigers thought they had scored the equalizer, but since it was indirect kick off the foot of Lobb that went straight into the net, the goal was waved off.

“Thank God we had a referee that knew the rule,” Shetromph said.

Central’s coach emphasized to his players the importance of getting the early lead against Fleetwood, having seen tape of the Lady Tigers’ earlier 3-0 win over Conrad Weiser in which they scored three times in 12:00 and then sat on the lead.

“I told them, ‘You need to go out in the first half and treat it as if it’s your second half and go at them because you can’t afford to go down to Fleetwood,’” Shetromph said.

That first-half push continued when Wells scored off a pass from Taylor Kauffman with 4:07 left in the half, giving Central a 2-0 lead at the break.

MC keeper Mia Reed saved a shot by Rebekah Earnest early in the second and then Alexis Nowotarski found the crossbar for Fleetwood.

But the Lady Tigers’ deficit grew as Noll’s header, off a corner kick by Maddie Carper, beat Scepansky for a 3-0 lead with 28:34 left. It was one of 11 corners for MC, to three for Fleetwood.

“Maddie Carper had a great ball in, I was on the keeper and then I quickly moved out and it was right at my head and I hit it in,” Noll said. “It was a great ball by Maddie Carper.”

That was more than enough for a Central defense which has been stingy since mid-season.

“We played some tough competition along the way that seasoned us for challenges,” Shetromph said.

“That was incredible,” Noll said of the defense. “It was just really cool to see so much passion and they weren’t going to let anything behind them.”

The outcome was no longer in doubt after MaKenna Copley and Wells scored just 2:40 apart, putting the Lady Barons up 5-0 with 9:13 remaining. Copley also chipped in with an assist in the game.

Then with 5:12 to go, Herr’s tally completed the scoring and sent the Lady Barons to Hersheypark.

“We’re going to take the approach (Tuesday) that we have a game on Thursday that we need to win,” Shetromph said. “We didn’t reach the summit or the peak. I’m proud of where we’ve come. We’ve come a long way … 17-4 is pretty freakin’ awesome.”

Last Thursday, Kayla Herr snapped a scoreless draw in the 67th minute, and her goal was the difference in a 1-0 Lady Baron win over ELCO in the District quarters at Cedar Crest.

Central held the edge in shots (9-5) and corners (3-1), but couldn’t capitalize until Herr connected. Reed recorded the shutout with one save.

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