Cocalico to get another crack at Blue Streaks Lady Eagles win wild one over LCD to earn return trip to title game
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
At times Tuesday night at Hershey High School, the District semifinal game between Cocalico and Lancaster Country Day/Lancaster Catholic resembled a track meet moreso than girls lacrosse.
For the better part of all four quarters, the teams went up and down the field repeatedly, each offense trying to out do the other. But in the end when it mattered, the Lady Eagles were able to gain control and settle things down in the final two minutes of the game.
And because of it, they will make a return trip to the District Three finals.
With the scored tied 18-18, Avery Longstaff fed sister Kari Longstaff in the slot with 1:55 to play. Her shot got past LCD/LC keeper Madalyn Stover to put Cocalico back up by one. Then, after winning the ensuing draw but then turning it back over to the Cougars with 39 seconds remaining, Avery Longstaff came up with a huge steal and the Lady Eagles were able to run out the clock and clinch the 19-18 victory.
"That was crazy," Avery said, summing up the final frenetic two minutes.
It was crazy, but they survived, and will now face unbeaten Manheim Township (23-0), a 22-6 winner over Penn Manor in Tuesday’s other semifinal match at Hershey, Thursday night (5 p.m.) at Hersheypark Stadium in the District finals.
Thursday’s contest will be a rematch of last year’s final, which the Blue Streaks were victorious in an 18-6 rout.
"It’s exciting," Cocalico Coach Mary Beth Cardin said. "This group of girls definitely has the talent. I knew going into the season we had the opportunity to get to the game on Thursday. I told them ahead of time that this was our game to win. It was a little too close for comfort there, and Country Day played a great game. It was back and forth the whole time. They were a great opponent today and we were fortunate to win it."
"We are excited to have the opportunity to play Manheim Township again," she continued. "They are obviously a very good team but I don’t think we’ve ever shown them what we are totally capable of so I’m excited and the team is excited to have that opportunity again."
The Lady Eagles, who clinched their second-straight State Tournament berth with the win, faced Manheim Township back on May 4 where they suffered an 18-4 defeat.
"It’s been our goal all season to get to the District championship again, and go farther than we did at States," Avery Longstaff said. "Township handled us pretty well the last time we played them so we are just going to go out there and give them a run. They are one of the best teams in the State so we are just going to do our best and see where that takes us."
Tuesday night, it turned out to be just enough.
Cocalico (19-2) jumped out to a 3-0 early lead before that advantage dwindled to 10-9 by the half as the teams traded leads four different times.
The game remained tight throughout the second half as Cocalico didn’t have an answer for the Cougars’ two snipers, Jayme Verman (8 goals, 2 assists) and Kelly Daggett (6 G, 1 A), while LCD/LC couldn’t stop Avery (10 G, 1 A) or Kari Longstaff (5 G, 6 A).
About halfway through the period, the Cougars did appear to be taking control when Bridget Umble and Daggett both scored to give their team a 16-14 advantage. Then after a goal by Kari Longstaff, Verman tallied again off a restart to make it 17-15 with 11:15 to play.
But as was the case all night, Cocalico had an answer again as Avery Longstaff scored on two straight rushes to once again tie the game at 17-17.
"Basically it was a battle of offenses," Avery Longstaff said. "It’s real hard to run a midfield in that situation because it’s just a lot of back-and forth running. Basically, it was two strong offenses, but our defenses made the plays when we needed them to. I think they were just as big a part as our offense, to be honest."
Stover came up big for the Cougars, making three huge stops on one Cocalico possession alone. Then after Umble put the Cougars back on top yet again with a goal at the 7:14 mark, the Lady Eagles Lauren Marte stoned Verman with 5:20 to go to keep it a one-goal game.
Then with 3:59 to play, and after a Lady Eagle steal, Sam Marino found Avery Longstaff who tied it at 18-18, setting the stage for a wild final two minutes.
"We work on that a lot," Cardin said of her team’s four-corner offense late in the game. "We work on controlling the ball where either we are down and have to go to goal, or we got 30 seconds and we have to hold on. The other day we held it pretty long in our last game (vs. Cumberland Valley). This one was obviously a little more intense, and I’m getting too old for that stuff."
Cocalico advanced to Tuesday’s semifinals by virtue of an impressive 18-8 triumph over Cumberland Valley in the quarterfinals last Thursday at Hershey High School.
Avery Longstaff scored six goals and added two assists to pace the Cocalico attack. Cortney Gensemer chipped in with four goals while Katelyn Costanza (three goals) and Kayli Lescoe (two goals, two assists) also scored multiple times for the Lady Eagles.
Kari Longstaff contributed a goal and five assists while Courtney Forry (one goal and two assists) and Marino (one goal) rounded out the Cocalico scoring.
Cocalico jumped out to an 11-7 halftime lead before outscoring Cumberland Valley 7-1 in the second half to key the victory.
Courtney Willey made eight saves for the Lady Eagles. Emily Brunie paced Cumberland Valley (17-2) with three goals. More COCALICO, page B-4