Penn Manor falls in state semifinals
EXETER — Penn Manor carried out the 2015 season with dominance, and their PIAA state semifinal versus Emmaus was no different.
In both instances, however, Penn Manor came up just a little bit short of their goal Tuesday night, falling to undefeated District 11 champion Emmaus by a 2-1 score, ending another impressive season for the Lady Comets under head coach Matt Soto.
“The effort is great, the kids are terrific, they stick together, they work together,” Soto began. “I have to get them working harder to score goals. We have all those great chances and we do (score) … but we have to do that against these teams, too.”
Emmaus (26-0) will advance to Saturday’s Quad-A final opposite the winner of Downingtown East and District 3 champion Palmyra — their semifinal was postponed until Wednesday — in what promises to be a fantastic game.
But for the 2014 PIAA co-champion and this year’s District 3 runners-up, getting back to the final was something the Comets (24-3) desperately wanted, a fact that showed throughout Tuesday’s game versus the Hornets.
Despite earning seven penalty corners to just four for Emmaus in the first half – a stat that ballooned to 16 to four by the end of the game – Emmaus rolled into halftime with a 1-0 lead thanks to Kira Koehler’s tip past Comet goalkeeper Allison Schaefer 10:57 into it.
But Penn Manor, which never substituted in the contest, played with vigor throughout the second half as they sought to tie the score.
“The same group the whole time,” Soto confirmed. “Did it look like they needed a rest? That’s the thing, they didn’t need a rest. When we took a stick to the leg I was thinking about it but we recovered pretty quickly.”
The stick to the leg was on junior national team member Brooke DeBerdine, a junior midfielder whom Soto credited with “the best game I’ve ever seen her play.”
Consistently working around two, three, sometimes four defenders, DeBerdine was the catalyst for the bulk of the Comets’ second half corners.
A quick Emmaus defense, however, and the perfectly situated Chloe Tostevin, whose defensive save with 14 minutes to play thwarted an open look from Comet forward Alyssa Shriver, were too troublesome for the Comet’s offense.
“We have all those chances we have to score, that’s just a red flag for me,” Soto said.
Tostevin’s save came two minutes after Maddie Warfel knotted the score with 16:25 left.
On a Comet corner, Emmaus midfielder Meredith Sholder was called for leaving the box early, allowing Soto to call a timeout to set up the ensuing play.
Warfel inserted the corner to Emily Robb, who dropped low to DeBerdine. The junior’s shot was blocked off by goalkeeper Paige Garloff (7 saves) before freshman Gabby Bitts crossed back to Warfel for the finish.
Sholder, a junior, would have the final say, however, as her rocket after a steal and pass from Leah Zellner beat Schaefer (2 saves) with 9:14 to go. It was Sholder’s 63rd goal of the season and 158th for her career, tying her for the Emmaus career mark.
“We just wanted to make sure she didn’t get the ball alone and in space,” Soto stated. “We wanted to make sure there was a body on her. I thought we did that really well, then we had that unfortunate situation.”
Leaving the Comets with an unfortunate ending to an otherwise outstanding season.
While seniors Warfel, Robb, Schaefer, and defender Marisa Batista will be missed, the relatively young Penn Manor squad led by DeBerdine should be ready to go next season.
Because for the Penn Manor Lady Comets, next season’s high expectations won’t be any different.
Girls’ High School Field Hockey
PIAA State Quad-A Semifinal
Emmaus 2, Penn Manor 1
PM 0 1 — 1
EM 1 1 — 2
FIRST HALF — 1. EM Kira Koehler (Meredith Sholder), 10:57
SECOND HALF — 2. PM Maddie Warfel (Gabby Bitts), 13:35; 3. EM Meredith Sholder (Leah Zellner), 20:46
CORNERS — EM 4, PM 16
SHOTS — EM 4, PM 8
GOALIES — EM Paige Garloff 7, PM A. Schaeffer 2