MANHEIM — Down a goal late in the first half versus Lampeter-Strasburg, the players on the Manheim Central Barons girls’ soccer team knew not to drop their heads.
Freshman midfielder Taylor Kauffman, meanwhile, knew just how to aim hers toward goal.
In the first round of the District 3 playoffs, Kauffman headed home a pair of goals on corner kicks from Maddie Carper as the fourth-seeded Barons settled into Monday night’s match at Elden Rettew Stadium, upending No. 13 Lampeter-Strasburg, 2-1, to advance to Thursday’s quarterfinals.
“We are a second half team. We hate to admit that but we are,” Kauffman said after the win. “We started out strong, had a couple shots in the first couple minutes. That was just an unlucky goal (scored by the Pioneers) but we picked our heads up and we finished.”
Manheim Central (15-4), which will face No. 5 Elco (19-1) on Thursday after the Raiders defeated Twin Valley 2-2 (4-2 PKs), won for the third time in three meetings with Lampeter-Strasburg (9-7-2) this season.
“I thought L-S had a very good game plan, I thought they were very well disciplined,” said Barons’ boss John Shetromph, crediting his former player and first-year head coach at L-S, Emily Lebo, on a great campaign. “We didn’t play our best game tonight but still we came out on the winning side of it, so that’s a sign of a very good team.”
Playing with plenty of verve, the Pioneers took the lead in the 20th minute when Maddy Stabinger pounced on a loose ball in the attacking third and dribbled it into the opposite corner past Baron keeper Mia Reed (five saves).
“The girls were definitely excited to be back on this field,” Lebo said of her squad’s solid start. “Whenever you play a team for the third time, you always hope it’s going to fall your way. Energy was really high and I think it carried through.”
Before then, Central’s Kiera Wells had drilled the crossbar in the opening minute and the Barons piled up a cadre of corners. But Kauffman’s first attempt on a corner hit off the turf and caromed out of the danger, Pioneers’ keeper Bella Dicamillo (six saves) also picking up a single stop in the first half.
But Central’s fifth corner was the charm, coming four minutes before halftime. Carper drove the service to the far side of the box where Kauffman leapt and headed it home just under the crossbar to even up the score, 1-1 at the half.
“Corners, I usually look for Taylor, she knows how to finish,” Carper said. “On headers.”
“Coach always told me to get your head, get anything on the ball, and get in into the back of the net,” said Kauffman. “It’s all about hitting the right angle on my head.”
Then, as the Barons held the L-S offense in check throughout the second half — Kristen Worry had the Pioneers’ lone shot until the waning seconds, not counting her free kick into a wide-open box nullified by an offside call — Central started putting increased pressure into the box.
Makenna Copley had a shot from 20-yards out stopped by DiCamillo. And a nifty cross by Kayla Herr went through the box without a Central player able to get a leg on it.
But the Barons were still racking-up corners, holding a 7-3 edge for the game. The Barons’ final corner came in the 68th minute with Carper again driving far side of the box. DiCamillo got two hands on it but couldn’t haul it down; Kauffman, however, was waiting with another header for an easy finish.
Allowing Kauffman and her teammates to finish off the night with heads held high. After a valiant effort, however, so too, can the Pioneers.
“Certainly you’d like to see somebody else,” Lebo said on having to face Manheim for a third time. “But at the same time I think this is a great game and you enjoy watching good soccer, and I think that’s what this was.”
District 3 First Round
At Manheim Central
MANHEIM 2, LAMPETER-STRASBURG 1
1. LS, Maddy Stabinger (UA), 20’
2. MC, Taylor Kauffman (Maddie Carper), 36’
3. MC, Kauffman (Carper), 58’
CORNERS-SHOTS — LS, 3-6. MC, 7-8.
SAVES — LS, Bella DiCamillo 6. MC, Mia Reed 5.