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Comets blank Cocalico in L-L League semifinals
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org, Staff Writer
Cocalico Coach Krista Page knew her team had to cash in on every chance it had going into Tuesday’s L-L semifinal matchup with Penn Manor at Manheim Central.
With the explosiveness of the Comet offensive attack, the Lady Eagles couldn’t let scoring opportunities slip away.
Unfortunately for them, that’s exactly what happened. And despite a valiant effort defensively by the Lady Eagles, the Comets (18-2) scored once in the first half and added two second half tallies to earn a 3-0 shutout win at Elden Rettew Field.
Manor sophomore Rachel Suter scored a pair of goals while fellow 10th grader Michelle Enck added a score as the Comets advanced to Thursday’s final. They’ll face Warwick– a 1-0 winner over Donegal Tuesday– in the championship game at Warwick, beginning at 7 p.m.
"We executed remarkably well," Penn Manor Coach Matt Soto said. "I’m very proud of our girls tonight. I thought our passing game was working very well tonight."
But it was Cocalico (15-5), which was playing without injured midfielder Carissa Witmer, that came out with the early spark. Unfortunately, the Lady Eagles couldn’t sneak one past Manor goalie Karla Mylin before the Comet offense got going.
"I thought we had quite a number of chances early," Cocalico Coach Krista Page said. "I mean we had the ball on the goal line twice and weren’t able to finish. If that happens then who knows how the game is going to finish? We knew coming in we had to capitalize on every opportunity that we had."
Despite a brilliant defensive effort by Taylor Kidwell, who notched a pair of defensive saves in the contest, Manor finally cashed in on its first shot of the game at the 15:37 mark of the first.
Off a corner, Erin McCoy fed Suter who blasted a shot past Cocalico freshman keeper Kayla Mellinger.
"I can’t say enough about the job our defense did in the first half," Page said. Jordan Miller and Taylor Kidwell…what didn’t she stop? She just steps up and stops everything. Penn Manor was so frustrated that first 20 minutes because they couldn’t get in because of the way our girls played in the back.
"I thought the first part of the first half we played the better hockey. But Penn Manor does what Penn Manor does well. They get the ball in the circle and they score. They are the best high school team I’ve seen when it comes to scoring."
Manor did tilt the field in its favor in the second half, and capitalized at the 10:52 mark of the second when Suter ripped another shot past Mellinger. Enck then poked in a rebound off a Suter shot eight minutes later to clinch the victory.
Despite allowing three goals, Page was pleased with the play of her freshman keeper, who made five saves on the night. She said Mellinger has come a long way since allowing all seven goals in a 7-0 shutout loss to Manor in the first game of the season.
"She’s a freshman," Page said. "It was like a firing squad the first time we played them. I think the kid is playing very well. Every time she puts on the pads she is getting better. And she’s working. That’s all you can ask."
Soto said he also saw a different Cocalico team than the first time they played them back in early September.
"They are a completely different team," he said of the Lady Eagles. "That’s Krista Page and the gang. They know how to get a team ready for playoffs, that’s for sure. It’s a much better team. We just went through them the first game and they were tough for long spurts of time tonight. They gave us a heck of a game."
Penn Manor led 10-4 in shots and out-cornered the Lady Eagles, 17-2.While the Comets advanced to Thursday’s final, Cocalico will now regroup for the opening round of Districts set for Tuesday at Exeter, beginning at 6 p.m. Cocalico will face Wilson, a team it defeated 2-1 a year ago on a late goal by Witmer, to clinch a berth into the State Tournament.
According to Page, she is hopeful Witmer will be back in action for the Lady Eagles.
The Lady Eagles advanced to Tuesday with a 2-1 victory over Hempfield Saturday afternoon at Penn Manor.
Cocalico got off to a fast start in that one and then held on for the exciting win.
Haley Irvine got Cocalico on the board when she scored off a rebound of a Janelle High shot with a little over two minutes remaining in the first half.
The Lady Eagles then made it 2-0 at the 9:28 mark of the second. Off a Hempfield corner, the ball wasn’t handled by the Black Knights and the Lady Eagles quickly moved in transition. Liza Morgan took it into the circle where she fed High, who then dumped it off to Amber Pinkerton who beat Hempfield keeper Kayla Denlinger.
Cocalico took the two-goal advantage into the final five minutes before the Knights’ Morgan Hilliard made things interesting when she scored off a corner with 4:26 to play.
Hempfield (13-4-1) then had one final opportunity late, forcing two-straight corners with no time left on the clock, looking for the tying goal. But Mellinger (six saves) stood tall, and the Lady Eagles were able to eventually gain control to secure the win.
For the game, the Black Knights held slight advantages in both shots (7-5) and corners (10-6).
Last Wednesday, Cocalico wrapped up regular-season play with an exciting 2-1 overtime victory at Manheim Central.
Paige Daniel gave the Barons a 1-0 lead five minutes before the half, and Manheim Central almost held on. However, Cocalico got the equalizer with 5:35 remaining when Irvine fed Carrie Sensenig to tie the game at 1-1 and set up the seven-on-seven OT.
Cocalico quickly took control in the extra period and Kidwell finished it off when she scored the gamewinner just 2:34 into overtime.
With the win, the Lady Eagles closed out their second-consecutive undefeated season in Section Two and have now won 35-straight section contests. More COCALICO, page B-6