Mia Fucci had a goal and an assist that helped push Warwick past Conestoga Valley on senior night. Video by John Buffone
LITITZ — When everything is packed into the middle, good teams find an opportunity to breakaway.
Thus far, the Warwick Warriors field hockey team has done that and more in the second half of the L-L League season, continuing that upward trend with Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over Conestoga Valley on Senior Night at Warwick High School.
The win helps Warwick (7-4 L-L, 9-6 overall) close its grip on third place in Section One, while Conestoga Valley (5-5, 7-6) continues a late tumble in the Section One standings.
“It feels good because normally … we don’t win (on Senior Night),” said senior forward Mia Fucci, who finished with a three-point night with an assist and goal scored. “But this was a great game and it was like a must win game, so that made it even more intense and I know of all us are so happy that we won.”
With Conestoga Valley’s stalwart defense clogging the circle and making sure-tackles, offense was at times difficult for the Warriors to come by.
But a breakaway down the left side, with junior midfielder Katie Pyle leading the give-and-go with Fucci, sparked the ice-breaker 13:51 into the first half.
“They are able to take the ball and pass right away,” Fucci said of the Buckskins’ defenders, “so the breakaways are important because our forwards are speedier than most defenders. It helps us get the ball in the circle faster.”
On the play, Pyle passed to Fucci along the left corner, who pushed the ball into center circle back to Pyle, who drilled it home for a 1-0 lead.
Fucci, who is committed to play for Old Dominion University next season, then staked the Warriors to a 2-0 lead two minutes into the second half, finishing off a penalty corner off the insert from fellow senior Haley Miller.
“It was actually supposed to be to the right but the flyer (CV defender Theodora Dillman) was wicked fast,” Fucci said of the goal. “So I pulled left, pulled left, and reversed it, hoping someone would tip it in but it went to the right side of the cage.”
The Buckskins went on the attack after that, earning eight corners for the half and finishing with a 10-7 advantage for the contest. But Warriors’ goalkeeper Catie Brubaker (six saves) made a handful of nice saves to preserve the shutout.
“It was a much improved Warwick team,” said CV coach Lee Gerdes. “I think our kids played extremely hard; I think Jada Martin left it all on the field. Callie Rumbaugh and Theodora Dillman left it all on the field. But some of our fundamentals were sloppy, and they (the Warriors) were not.”
For Warwick, a win at home on Friday versus Hempfield would officially clinch the third-seed in Section One, thereby eliminating the Buckskins — who travels to face unbeaten Penn Manor on Friday before finishing at home versus McCaskey next Monday.
Thus the Warriors, who have won six of eight games since losing 1-0 to CV earlier in the season, are in the proverbial driver’s seat.
“The one thing is that they’re growing, they’re growing in the game and getting better with finding each other on the field,” said Warriors’ head coach Bob Derr, who would later become emotional speaking about his nine seniors. “We struggled penetrating the circle, we couldn’t generate corners, but (the players) were controlling the midfield play which gave us more of the offense and … that took a lot of time off the clock which was good.
“Especially with that 2-0 lead, that helped. I have to give credit to all of them, but I just thought my goalie Catie Brubaker did a nice job and also Katie Pyle did a nice job in the middle. That was a good game for her. That’s what you have to do, control the middle, control the game.”
Warwick 2, Conestoga Valley 0
1. WW, Katie Pyle (Mia Fucci), 13:51
2. WW, Mia Fucci (Haley Miller, corner), 31:41
CORNERS-SHOTS — CV 10-6. WW 7-4
SAVES — CV, Carolyn Spotts 2. WW, Catie Brubaker 6.