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Codi Bollinger scored the lone goal of the game for Manheim Central while Hannah Barbush made a key defensive save defensive save to preserve the shutout. Video by Daryl Simione.

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ELIZABETHTOWN — Coming into Monday night’s field hockey contest versus Elizabethtown, the Manheim Central Barons were virtually locked into a second-place finish in the competitive Section Two standings.

Rather than sit back, however, the Barons pushed forward on Elizabethtown’s home turf, shutting-out the third-place Bears on Senior Night, 1-0, behind steady defensive play and a timely first-half goal from Codi Bollinger.

“Last year we beat Etown the first round and they came back to us on Senior Night and they beat us,” Bollinger said. “(This year) we beat them the first time; we had a goal set that if we beat a team the first time we don’t lose the second time. So when we came into this game we (were) set that we were not going to lose.”

Both Manheim Central (11-2 Section Two, 13-4 overall) and Elizabethtown (7-5-1, 7-8-1) had early opportunities to score in the first half, with the Bears garnering a quick penalty corner right out of the chute.

But competitiveness soon lent itself to physical play midway through the first half when Etown received the first of three green cards that were doled-out during the contest — not to mention a yellow card coming early in the second half.

After the Bears’ got back to even strength, however, Central forward Maddie Hosler centered into the Etown circle, where Bollinger corralled the loose ball and fired it past Etown keeper Kaylani Hernandez (six saves) for the game’s only goal, coming at the 19:40 mark.

“I stepped up and an Etown girl stepped up … and I shot it off my back foot,” Bollinger said. “We really push hard that when we’re in the circle, shoot the ball, get a corner, whatever, and … there were no girls on me so my first instinct was shoot.”

Etown immediately countered, getting the fourth of its seven first-half corners. Jaide Epler inserted to Bears’ leading-scorer Sharri Kambesis, who lofted an aerial over Barons’ goalkeeper Kassidy Breneman (three saves). But Central defender Hannah Barbush was there to deflect the shot on what was the Bears’ best opportunity of the game.

“I just didn’t want the ball to go into the cage,” Barbush said. “The goalie didn’t call it so I just stuck my stick up and knocked it down and then cleared it out of the circle.”

The Barons’ ramped up the defensive effort in the second half, holding the Bears to just one corner and one shot on goal.

Barbush and her defensive mates were particularly effective stepping up into Etown’s passing lanes.

“If there’s a ball that we know that we can intercept, we’re stepping up in front of that,” Barbush explained. “Even if we step up and miss-trap it we’re covering back. Everybody had a great defensive game.”

Credit to the Bears’ defense, as well, for not letting that five-minute yellow card bring down their effort.

“Our defense is playing really well,” said Bears’ coach Linda Sten, whose team lost to the Barons 5-0 earlier in the season but has been on the up ever since. “It’s unfortunate that Abby (Thomas) got that five-minute card … but I thought we supported each other extremely well.”

While Manheim Central is guaranteed a league playoff berth in this Saturday’s quarterfinals, Etown drops to fourth in the section standings due to Ephrata’s 5-0 win Monday night over Garden Spot.

Although the Bears’ loss was Ephrata’s gain, Elizabethtown hosts Lampeter-Strasburg (7-5 Section Two) on Wednesday while Ephrata (8-5) hosts Manheim Central, meaning much will be decided then.

“Last couple games we’ve been playing extremely well, so we’re going to carry that over to Wednesday,” Sten said. “We absolutely need a win to secure third-place. Hopefully we do.”

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Manheim Central 1, Elizabethtown 0

MC_1_0_—_1

ET_0_0_—_1

FIRST HALF

MC, Codi Bollinger (Maddie Hosler), 19:40

CORNERS-SHOTS: MC 9-9. ET 8-4.

SAVES: MC—Kassidy Breneman 3, Hannah Barbush 1. ET—Kaylani Hernandez 6, Aba Aggrey 2.

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