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LAMPETER - Though there was only one winner, both the Cocalico and Lampeter-Strasburg girls' soccer squads can find solace in their willingness to finish strong.

Thursday afternoon at rainy Lampeter-Strasburg High School, the Cocalico Lady Eagles solidified their spot in the Section Two standings with a hard-fought, 3-2 victory over the Lady Pioneers.

With Cocalico (7-1-1 L-L, 9-1-2 overall) leading Lampeter-Strasburg 2-1 after one half of play, the Pioneers (5-4 L-L, 5-7 overall) came out and controlled the first ten minutes of the second half with a series of offensive rushes, including a direct kick and a shot from striker Kristen Worry.

But on Cocalico's subsequent foray into the Pioneers' zone, freshman Rowan Lapi was awarded a penalty kick after an L-S defender was called for interference.

Although a discussion of the call ensued, Lapi drilled the kick into the left side of the net past diving keeper Bella DeCamillo for the 3-1 lead and an important switch in the game's momentum.

"It was a little rough because I had a whole two minutes just to work myself up about it," Lapi admitted, "but I tried to stay as relaxed as I could. Just stepped up and hit it."

Earlier in the season, such a call and kick might have been the final blow for the Pioneers after Cocalico rallied from a 1-0 deficit, scoring three straight goals in the contest.

But the two-goal differential as well as the onset of a blustery wind merely spurred both teams to more physical play and the willingness to attack the net.

Thus, while DeCamillo (8 saves) was standing tall in goal for the next fifteen minutes of play, L-S crept to within one on Maddie Stabinger's finish past Eagles' keeper Alyssa Hirneisen (4 saves).

"We're growing up. Today was the first time we showed a ton of heart," said Pioneers' coach Aaron Strous, whose team had lost 4-0 at Cocalico on September 10. "Both teams had good chances but I thought we outplayed them."

Upon scoring just 1:14 into the game on Worry's pass to Ryleigh Lefever - the ball tipping off Hirneisen's fingertips and landing over the goal line - the Pioneers seemed poised to pull off the upset in a suddenly adventurous Section Two.

"As much as we want to play possession soccer early in each half we always just try to make sure we're going forward as quickly as we can and it just wasn't there for us today," said Cocalico head coach Dan Hogan. "L-S was just a little more prepared in the beginning of each half."

Cocalico found their groove when they needed it, however, leading scorer Emily Zwiercan weaving around the L-S defense and lofting a left-footed blast by DeCamillo for the equalizer in the 20th minute.

Two minutes before the half, Lexi Palm's well-placed pass to Samantha Klumpp resulted in Cocalico's 2-1 lead.

"Lucky for us we snuck that second goal in before halftime," Hogan said. "In the second half L-S was really on top of us and made things very interesting to say the least."

Also fortunate was Lapi's coolness under pressure, like the calm before an impending rainstorm.

"Our team played really good as a whole," Lapi said on the Eagles' ability to stem the tide. "Our defenders really stepped up this game. We really just took it to them in the back, that was key right there."

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Girls' High School Soccer

L-L League Section Two

Cocalico 3, Lampeter-Strasburg 2

COC 2 1 - 3

LS 1 1 - 2

Cocalico Scoring: E. Zwiercan (19:27), Samantha Klumpp (37:58), R. Lapi (51:45 PK)

Cocalico Assists: L. Zemeski, L. Palm

Lampeter-Strasburg Scoring: R. Lefever (1:14), M. Stabinger (66:50)

Lampeter-Strasburg Assists: K. Worry

Corners-Shots: COC 6-11, LS 4-6

Saves: COC A. Hirneisen 4; LS B. DeCamillo 8

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