Big second half leads Warwick past Cocalico
By: BRUCE MORGAN Review Staff Writer, Staff Writer
The Warwick girls lacrosse team made a small adjustment in their draws at halftime on Tuesday against Cocalico.
It paid big rewards in the second half.
Capitalizing on more face-off wins and increased possession time, the Lady Warriors scored five unanswered goals following the intermission and never looked back, breaking open a 5-4 halftime lead and cruising to an 11-5 Section One win over Cocalico in Lititz.
Senior Alex White and Jess Talbot scored four goals apiece to fuel Warwick’s attack. White, who leads the Lady Warriors with seven goals this spring, also chipped in with two assists. Cocalico junior Katelyn Costanza scored two of her team-high three goals in the opening half to help keep the Lady Eagles close, but it wasn’t enough.
"Our defense did a good job in the first half," Warwick coach Eric Jeanes said, "but when you’re on defense for 15, 17 minutes of the half, you’re going to eventually give up some goals. So we just made a little change on the draw and we just started picking the ball up and keeping possession and getting good shots. It was just a better half."
As a result, Warwick (1-0 L-L, 1-1 overall) finally got a long-awaited win over Cocalico.
"As many (wins) as we can get is going to help us make Districts," Jeanes said, "because we’re in a tough Section. If we can beat Cocalico and hopefully steal some more wins, that will put us in a decent spot for Districts. It was just a big confidence boost for us because these girls, I don’t know if they have (beat Cocalico) at all. So it was a good win."
The Lady Eagles had advanced to the District Three championship game in each of the past two seasons, but this year’s squad has some big shoes to fill with the Longstaff twins — Avery and Kari — now playing at Temple.
The current Cocalico team also has the challenge of playing in Section One, after moving up from Section Two, and Cocalico Coach Mary Beth Cardin thought that her girls just made too many errors against Warwick.
"Fundamentally from start to finish, not a good game," Cardin said. "Too many bad passes, too many dropped balls. Warwick played a nice game. All the errors we made, they capitalized on."
Of course, Warwick also capitalized on that adjustment in their draws. With White taking the face-offs and senior Meredith Michel on the circle, the Lady Eagles found themselves pinned in their own end of the field for the first several minutes of the second half.
"It’s not that (Meredith) was doing a bad job (taking the draws), but when you put Mere on the circle, that gives us a little more help," Jeanes said. "She’s really aggressive with getting the ball and Alex does do a good job on the draws too, so it just was a change that we tried and it worked."
Indeed. Talbot beat Cocalico keeper Lauren Marte (10 saves) with 39 seconds elapsed in the stanza and then Michel connected with 20:46 to go put Warwick up 7-4. Later, when Talbot scored back-to-back goals just 45 seconds apart, the Lady Warriors were in command with a 9-4 lead with 19:14 left. Goalkeeper Jess Cochis saved four of the five shots she faced in the half to keep the Lady Eagles at bay.
White had the hot hand for Warwick in the first half, going a perfect 4-of-4 on her shots, but when Cocalico denied her in the second half, Talbot responded, scoring all four of her goals after the break.
"(Alex) is really good at rolling the crease and they weren’t letting her do that, so that opens up stuff for other people," Jeanes said. "Jess has a really great shot. She’s got the hardest shot on the team. When she gets in a good spot, she can let it rip and it’s hard to stop."
Talbot scored her fourth, and final, goal with 16:36 to go to make it 10-4, and then Costanza scored the Lady Eagles’ only second-half tally just over a minute later. But Michel’s second goal of the game, on an assist from White following a Cocalico turnover, completed the scoring with 5:07 remaining.
In the first half, the Lady Eagles battled back from one-goal deficits three times and Cortney Gensemer’s tally with 9:40 left tied the game at 3-all. Gensemer also finished with two assists, including a helper on Costanza’s goal which put the Lady Eagles up 4-3 with 3:24 left in the half. It would be Cocalico’s only lead of the game.
"Katie and Cortney are two of our stronger offensive players," Cardin said, "they play year round on the club level, they’ve both been all-stars and that kind of stuff. They both have nice sticks and the ability to play all over and be effective for us in both ends of the field. So other girls certainly do look to them to get things going and its a little hard to reproduce Katie’s speed too. She’s just got unbelievable speed. But hopefully they’ll all be putting it in the cage — then it will be easier for Katie and Cortney to (score) because the focus won’t just be on them."
Overall, Cocalico outshot Warwick 11-8 in the half, but Lady Warriors’ keeper Kelsea Hershey had six stops to help keep it close.
"Eleven shots and you put in four of them, that’s not that great a percentage," Cardin said. "From my vantage point, Warwick always has a very strong defense which makes it hard for us offensively. I think their defense played really sound, which forced us to maybe take some shots that we wouldn’t necessarily take normally."
That solid defense looked big when White scored two goals for Warwick in the final 1:41 of the half, giving them a 5-4 lead. It was a lead they never relinquished thanks to a dominant performance in the second half.
"We were kinda playing catch-up throughout the whole game," Cardin said. "It just was not a banner day for us." More CHS GIRLS, page B-5