Cocalico survives first round scareAdvances to face top seed LD Saturday
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org, Staff Writer
Sometimes it’s all about survival.
And that’s exactly the mode Cocalico was in Tuesday night vs. Wilson in the first round of the District Three AAA Tournament held at Exeter.
From the opening whistle, Wilson had its legs and the majority of scoring chances, dominating play for most of the 60 minutes of action. Fortunately for the Lady Eagles, Cocalico made the most of its few offensive chances. And in the end, that was the determining factor.
Hanging on for dear life, Cocalico got the only goal it would need late in the first half as Amber Pinkerton tipped in a shot off one of the Lady Eagles’ two corners in the half. Carissa Witmer later added an insurance tally in the second half and Cocalico did indeed survive with a 2-0 victory over the Bulldogs.
"I think we expired one of our nine lives tonight," Cocalico Coach Krista Page said after her team’s great escape.
With the victory, the Lady Eagles (16-5) advance to face top-seeded Lower Dauphin Saturday (11 a.m.) at Penn Manor. The Falcons (20-1) cruised Tuesday in an opening round 4-0 shutout win over 16th seed Red Land.
"Right now I’m standing here trying to figure out what in the world we are going to do in practice this week because we obviously have a lot of work to do. We just did not do anything well tonight."
"We played absolutely horrible. We did nothing to deserve that game. I don’t even feel good about that win. I felt very badly for Wilson. They were the better team tonight and we won."
How tough was if for Cocalico Tuesday? Well, the Lady Eagles were out-shot 13-6 and Wilson (14-6-1) also enjoyed a 17-5 advantage in corners. The field was especially tilted in Wilson’s direction in the first half, and if not for a near brilliant performance by defender Taylor Kidwell and freshman keeper Kayla Mellinger it may not have ended well for the Lady Eagles.
Twice in the first half, Kidwell made defensive saves on balls that almost certainly would have gone in the cage. In addition, Mellinger made seven of her nine stops on the night in those first 30 minutes of play.
Somehow, Cocalico kept the Bulldogs off the board, and perhaps even more surprising considering the way it was going, the Lady Eagles emerged with a 1-0 half-time lead. Off the corner with less than two minutes to go, Kidwell sent it into Liza Morgan, who dribbled into the circle before sending the ball to the front of the cage. Sonya Fry picked it up and shot it toward the goal where Pinkerton re-directed it past Wilson keeper Summar Elgogari.
"How did we get out of that first half up 1-0?," Page asked. "I mean, as bad as we were playing I didn’t want to use my time-outs because I figured I was going to need them (in the second half). I was just hoping and praying the clock would go fast enough that we could get out of that half even, or at worst down one or two. I have no idea how that happened."
Cocalico righted its ship a bit in the second half, but the Bulldogs still carried most of the play. But midway through the period, Morgan picked up the ball near midfield and sent a pass to Witmer, who was stationed at the top of the circle. The talented junior, who returned to the lineup after injuring her knee vs. Hempfield in the L-L Quarterfinals, hit a change-up with her drive but the ball still trickled past Elgogari for the insurance goal.
"I actually felt pretty good about us going into this game," Page said. "We had two horrible practices last week on Thursday and Friday, but then we came back rested after the weekend and yesterday’s practice was good. I felt really good. I felt prepared. I felt good. But after the first five minutes tonight, oh my word… We spend 30 minutes a day passing and catching, and we couldn’t catch the ball for 60 minutes. Somehow, we survived."
DISTRICT 3 AAA
First Round Scores: Lower Dauphin 4, Red Land 0; Penn Manor 5, Cedar Cliff 0; Warwick 5, Gov. Mifflin 0; Hempfield 6, Central York 0; Hershey 1, Twin Valley 0; Red Lion 3, Conestoga Valley 1; Central Dauphin 2, Cumberland Valley 1; Cocalico 2, Wilson 0. More COCALICO, page B-6