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MILLERSVILLE - A quick goal by the Hempfield boys' soccer team was supposed to draw the energy out of the Comets' home crowd. In the end it just made the second half all the more spirited.

Colby Smith scored in the eighth minute for the game's only goal, goalkeeper Ryan Shiner made enough plays in net and the Hempfield defense limited the Comets to four shots on goal and zero corners as the Black Knights spoiled Penn Manor's Senior Night with a 1-0 victory Tuesday night in Millersville.

The win keeps the Black Knights (7-2 L-L, 11-4 overall) in second place in Section One while the Comets (5-4, 9-6) fall another step back, Hempfield having swept the season series between the two teams via shutout.

"We knew it was their Senior Night, they're going to have a lot of emotion," said Knights' head coach Mark Ashley. "If we could score early we were hoping to kind of squelch some of that and take some of that energy out of the game."

With each team bursting out of the gate, however, finding a hole in the defense seemed to be the necessary edge.

For Hempfield, that meant speed on the wings and opportunistic passes in the middle, the Black Knights' midfield dropping off to traditional centerbacks Smith and Kurtis Rineer.

Their first opportunity came at the eight minute mark when Jarod Bitterman found Smith trailing the play, the junior depositing the goal beyond Comets' goalkeeper Jesse Kann (7 saves).

"We had great midfield play swinging the ball side-to-side and we made some excellent runs down the flanks to get the ball out wide," Smith said.

"Jarod made a great run down the right wing. He pulled it back and played an excellent ball under the box and I was able to take one touch and get a nice volley on (goal)."

To their credit, the Comets battled the Knights fast and physical. Nate Flexman responding to the deficit by streaking his way down the left side for a shot, the Comet fans and cheerleaders celebrating when his shot went into the outside of the net.

Hempfield gave Penn Manor few chances to even the score until the second half, a half nonetheless controlled by the Knights.

While Flexman lofted a deep volley that topped off the crossbar out of the reach of Shiner (2 saves), Knights' defender Zach Wilson made a pair of successive tackles of Sean Borden and John Ly around the 70th minute to thwart a Comets' possession.

Then with just over two minutes to play Flexman drilled a shot on goal, the ball crashing out of Shiner's arms where Borden nearly corralled it. A defensive clear by junior Jon Lawrence helped to hold off Penn Manor's late game enthusiasm.

"I think (getting an early goal) worked for the most part," Ashley said, "but late in the match they really battled back and put us on our heels."

Hempfield nonetheless sits in second place with a chance to match section leader Conestoga Valley when the teams play in the final game of the regular season. First, however, the Knights host Warwick on Thursday in their final home game.

Conversely, Penn Manor travels to Warwick on Saturday in a game that likely will decide third place in the section and the league playoff berth that comes with it.

"I think we're in a pretty good spot right now," Smith said. "We definitely could have done some things differently to put us in a better spot but we like where we're at right now and we're going to finish these next three games as hard as we can."

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Boys' High School Soccer

L-L Section One

Hempfield 1, Penn Manor 0

HM 1 0 - 1

PM 0 0 - 0

Hempfield Scoring: C. Smith (8:00)

Hempfield Assists: Jarod Bitterman

Penn Manor Scoring: NA

Penn Manor Assists: NA

Corners-Shots: HM 2-8; PM 0-4

Saves: HM R. Shiner 2, PM J. Kann 7

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