Hempfield turns back strong Cocalico effort

By on May 8, 2019
Cocalico’s Jameson Kernaghan (right) fends off the Hempfield player during Tuesday’s L-L semifinals at Conestoga Valley. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Cocalico’s Jameson Kernaghan (right) fends off the Hempfield player during Tuesday’s L-L semifinals at Conestoga Valley. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

After giving Hempfield all it could handle earlier this year, the Cocalico girls lacrosse team was a confident one heading into Tuesday’s L-L Semifinal showdown with the Black Knights at Conestoga Valley.

In that first contest, Cocalico erased an early 6-1 hole to come back to tie it at half-time. And although that game eventually got away from the Eagles as the Black Knights captured a 20-14 decision, Cocalico knew it could handle the quick runs up the field and defend the circle.

“We definitely knew coming in that we had a good shot to win the game,” Cocalico Coach Courtney Reinhold said.

The Eagles played like it early on, frustrating the Black Knight attack while creating scoring chances of their own as they jumped out to a 4-2 advantage midway through the first half.

In the end, unfortunately, they couldn’t sustain it as Hempfield closed the first half on a 5-1 run, then opened the second with a 6-2 spurt. Cocalico did close the game with the final three tallies of the night but Hempfield advanced with a hard-fought 13-10 victory.

Hempfield’s Lauren Dague scored three goals and added a pair of assists while the team’s leading scorer Lizzie Yurchak chipped in with three goals as the Black Knights (12-4) moved on to Thursday’s finals at Warwick (7 p.m.) opposite Manheim Township— a 14-4 winner over Lampeter-Strasburg in Tuesday’s nightcap.

As for Cocalico (14-4), which will now await the start of the District 2A Tournament, the Eagles were led by Hannah Custer’s dominant game as she paced all scorers with six goals and two assists.

Custer, a sophomore, really was a factor all night offensively for Cocalico.

“Hannah had a great game,” Reinhold said. “She is always one of those girls that goes out and gives it 100 percent. In a big game we know she is going to put the ball in the cage. Now we just need everybody to step up and also add to that.”

Early on, the scoring was slow as both teams were locked in at the defensive end. After a nice save by Cocalico’s Alayna Trynosky (15 saves) at one end, Katie Heck made a run down the right side and beat Hempfield goalie Kyah Peifer for the 1-0 Cocalico lead three minutes into the game.

Hempfield tied it a minute later on a goal by Kelsey Dague (2 goals), and after both teams found the net again to make it 2-2, Custer sliced through middle of the defense and beat Peifer again to make it 3-2 Cocalico. Then 30 seconds after that, Custer scored her third goal of the game at the 10:34 mark to double up the score to 4-2 in favor of the Eagles.

However, that’s when the game began to swing Hempfield’s way as Lauren Dague and Brynn Axe (1 goal) scored back-to-back goals to knot the game and start the Knights on their 5-1 run.

With Cocalico suddenly starting to turn the ball over, the Black Knights made them pay at the other end as Laura Morrison (2 goals) scored twice and Lizzie Yurchak also found the net to bump the Hempfield lead to 7-4. Custer finally stopped the bleeding with 18 seconds left as she came out from behind the net to score to make it 7-5 Hempfield at the half.

“A big thing for us was our offense started turning the ball over a little bit more,” Reinhold said of the game’s turning point. “We weren’t ending with the ball in the cage which gave them that opportunity that they would come off of that ground ball with that quick pass out and then it was a fastbreak situation. We just made slides at the wrong time, just a little too early. Definitely things to work on and improve upon as we get ready for Districts.”

The Black Knights then opened up a 13-7 lead with 7:36 to play as Lauren Dague capped the 6-2 early second-half run by Hempfield. The Black Knights continued to hold possession and played keep away for most of the time remaining.

The Eagles did get the final three tallies in the last 3:49 as Heck notched her second of the game before Custer scored a pair in the final minute before time ran out.

Cocalico’s leading scorer Claire Eberly was held to just one goal in the game but she collected a team-high three assists. Corrie Lescoe added the other Cocalico goal.

The Eagles are in line to receive a first-round bye at Districts since the top four seeds in the 12-team bracket do not have to play first-round games. As of presstime, Cocalico was seeded second behind only undefeated York Catholic in Class 2A.

The first round is slated for May 13 with quarterfinal action set to begin Wednesday, May 15.

That should give the Eagles some time to fine tune their game in order to make what many expect to be a big run.

“We knew coming into this season that it was going to be a good year,” Reinhold said. “We’ve had a lot of tough games where we have fought back to come out on top. Now it’s just a matter of pushing through and really continuing. We set some high goals for ourselves this season so we are hoping to reach them.”

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