Penn Manor and Doengal won their semifinal matches to advance to the L-L field hockey finals. Daryl Simione
LITITZ — It’s like déjà vu all over again.
One year after Donegal defeated Penn Manor for the Lancaster-Lebanon Field Hockey title in a battle of unbeatens, both the Indians and the Comets pulled away from their semifinal opponents Tuesday night at Warwick’s Grosh Field, setting up an all-important rematch for 2016 supremacy.
Thursday’s matchup between Penn Manor and Donegal is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at Conestoga Valley High School.
As for Tuesday’s semifinals, Penn Manor (20-0) dispatched gritty section one foe Warwick (11-8) in the opener by a 5-1 count. But the Warriors proved to be ungracious hosts, at least within the field of play, backed by a stellar defensive effort all game long.
In the second game of the doubleheader, Donegal (20-0) overcame a slow start to upend possession-minded Manheim Township (14-6), 6-0, behind the first career hat-trick for Indians’ junior Cassy Stauffer.
It was the opening game that set the tone for semifinals, however, with Penn Manor generating a lot of opportunities in front of Warriors’ goalkeeper Catie Brubaker (10 saves).
Defenders Haley Miller and Natalie Healy (two defensive saves), meanwhile, made great tackles inside the circle without giving up penalty corners for a Warwick team that was without leading goal-scorer Adrienne McGarrigle, who is nursing an ankle injury.
“Our tactic was simply to drop back on defense and let them come to us,” said Warwick coach Bob Derr. “If we can get an offensive surge we’ll take advantage of it. If we don’t, we’re just going to try to play defense for sixty minutes which is pretty much what we did.”
That strategy worked out well, although the Comets turned their first corner into a goal when Anna May Barbusca sent a pass across the circle to Alyssa Schriver, who was coming in off the insert. Schriver easily buried the shot for a 1-0 Penn Manor lead.
After that it was the Emma DeBerdine show, the sophomore forward utilizing a trio of assists from her sister Brooke to tally three goals in the contest, including one midway through the first half that gave the Comets a fair, but smaller-than-normal, 2-0 lead at the break.
“Credit our opponent, they had a great game plan,” said Penn Manor coach Matt Soto. “All kinds of intensity and fire going on with them.”
But Emma DeBerdine came out of the gates on fire, herself, scoring on a give-and-go with her sister ten minutes into the half before pinching-in from the corner three minutes later, finding a wide open Gabby Bitts on the other side for a 4-0 advantage.
“Emma is really smart; she knows how to create space,” said Soto, crediting his leading goal-scorer for being “on her game.”
After the sophomore completed her hat-trick on a corner play with five minutes left on the clock, Warwick mounted its lone rush of the contest with Biz Van Scoten streaking toward the goal and firing past Comets’ keeper Brittany Hook to break the shutout.
While Derr credited Brubaker as well as midfielder Katie Pyle for “stepping up” in the contest, Soto credited Derr for making things difficult for his team.
“Gee whiz, we have a lot of work tomorrow,” Soto said. “We have to be a whole lot sharper than that. Hopefully we can be, in a day.”
Stauffer and her Donegal teammates, meanwhile, are looking forward to Thursday’s matchup.
“Last year was a really exciting game,” Stauffer said. “It’s always exciting playing Penn Manor, they’re one of our biggest rivals. Everyone brings such good energy and it’s a game you never forget.”
Off an assist from Mackenzie Allessie, Stauffer netted her first goal versus Township on a tip-in ten minutes into the first half.
Allessie fired into the cage off a defender’s stick at the 9:36 mark before converting on a stroke four minutes before halftime for a 3-0 lead.
Stauffer then scored her second goal on a tip-in at the end line on a pass from Rachael Overlander just one minute into the second half.
“I think it really upped the tempo because at halftime we talked about getting the momentum up and bringing positive energy back in the second half,” Stauffer said.
Not long after Township goalkeeper Kayla Zapcic (10 saves) stuffed Stauffer’s breakaway opportunity later in the half, Stauffer knocked-in her third goal with 14:42 remaining. Rachel Robinson rocketed-home the game’s final goal on a corner play with under five minutes to play.
Donegal goalkeeper Katie Jean stopped six shots to earn the shutout, including numerous sliding plays on Township breakaways.
L-L Field Hockey Semifinal #1
At Warwick HS
Penn Manor 5, Warwick 1
1. PM, Alyssa Schriver (Anna May Barbusca), 4:14.
2, PM, Emma DeBerdine (Brooke DeBerdine), 12:39.
3. PM, Emma DeBerdine (Brooke DeBerdine), 11:46.
4. PM, Gabby Bitts (Emma DeBerdine), 13:49.
5. PM, Emma DeBerdine (Brooke DeBerdine), 24:44.
6. WW, Biz Van Scoten (Kate Dickow), 27:20.
CORNERS-SHOTS — PM 16-17. WW 0-1.
SAVES — PM, Brittany Hook 0. WW, Catie Brubaker 10, Natalie Healy 2.
L-L Field Hockey Semifinal #2
At Warwick HS
Donegal 6, Manheim Township 0
1. DN, Cassy Stauffer (Mackenzie Allessie), 9:42.
2. DN, Allessie (Rachel Robinson), 20:22.
3. DN, Allessie (stroke), 25:53.
4. DN, Stauffer (Rachael Overlander), 0:55.
5. DN, Stauffer (UA), 15:18.
6. DN, Robinson (Allessie), 25:15.
CORNERS-SHOTS — DN, 16-17. MT 4-6.
SAVES — DN, Katie Jean 6. MT, Kayla Zapcic 10, Meredith Schulz.