Cocalico clinches fourth-straight title
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
With three-year starters back at every defensive position, the strength of Cocalico’s field hockey team coming into the season was its back line.
However, how far this edition of the Lady Eagles ultimately goes probably will depend on the production up front.
So far, so good.
And this past week, the Lady Eagles clinched their fourth-straight Section Two crown and head into their final game Wednesday at Manheim Central with a chance to complete their second-straight undefeated league season with a victory over the Barons.
"Our goal every year is to win a section title and to qualify for the league, district and state tournaments," Cocalico coach Krista Page said Tuesday. "We strive to make practice as competitive as possible and make sure that each player understands the hard work it takes to have that continued success. All of this translate to the off season and our kids have been working hard which shows in our success during the season."
It certainly has in section play. While the stingy Cocalico defense has given up just four goals in 13 section games, the Lady Eagles have been equally impressive at the offensive end, scoring 60 goals with Wednesday’s game remaining.
Four Cocalico players are in the top five in scoring in section play, led by Liza Morgan, who leads the section with 18 goals and seven assists in 13 games. Ephrata’s Moriah Pfautz is second (18 & 4) but Cocalico’s Amber Pinkerton (16 & 5), Carrie Sensenig (11-4) and Carissa Witmer (9&4) round out the top five.
Defensively, Ephrata is the only team to score on Cocalico in the second half of the season as they have posted five-straight shutouts heading into Wednesday’s finale.
"Early on I was not sure where our scoring was going to come from," Page said. "It is great to see everyone getting involved in that, they are very unselfish. Everyone understands that the team scores. Yes, our defense is strong and we have been able to shut out many opponents as well as allow them zero shots but that is because defense happens everywhere on the field. We are getting better at that and in my opinion that is why we were able to do what we did the second round."
Ultimately, this team will be judged by how far it goes in the post-season, fair or not. While a 34-game section winning streak and four-straight section championships is very impressive, the standards were set very high by last year’s squad making its run to the state finals.
Page was asked if this team is capable of doing similar things.
"Every year our goal is to go further than we did the year before," she said. "The post season is our second season and our goal is to play in each of those three tournaments (league, district & state) and win them. (Last year) was a great ride but that was last year’s team. We are working and preparing one game at a time and only time will tell what is in store for the 2011 season. Playing in the post-season is not a right, it is an earned accomplishment. It is up to us to prepare and enjoy the ride until the final whistle blows."
Cocalico, currently ranked eighth in the District, begins the post-season Saturday in the L-L League Quarterfinals as the Section Two champs square off against the third-place team from Section One which is yet to be determined.
The District Three Tournament is set to begin Oct. 22.
Cocalico notched three one-sided wins this past week, including a 6-0 shutout win at Lebanon Monday afternoon.
Morgan and Pinkerton had two goals each while Witmer and Sensenig added tallies in the Cocalico win. Pinkerton, Witmer, Morgan and Janelle High picked up assist as Cocalico led in shots (16-0) and corners (11-2).
This past Friday at home, the Lady Eagles cruised to an 8-0 win over visiting Solanco as Pinkerton scored a hat trick to lead the way. Morgan and Witmer each added a pair of goals while Taylor Kidwell also chipped in with a goal.
Haley Irvine, Allie Stauffer, Sensenig, High and Pinkerton all picked up assist as Cocalico led in shots (21-2) and corners (3-1).
And last Wednesday at Cedar Crest, the Lady Eagles broke open a 2-0 game with three goals in the final period to earn a 5-0 victory over the Falcons.
High, Witmer, Sensenig, Morgan and Pinkerton all scored goals for Cocalico while Stauffer and Kidwell picked up helpers in the win.
Goalie Kayla Mellinger made three saves against Solanco, and did not face a shot in either the Cedar Crest or Lebanon game to earn all three wins in the cage. More TITLE, page B-6