Physical Eastern not intimidated by Division I foes
There is a simple difference in this year's Eastern York girls' soccer team, Golden Knights head coach Chrissy Crumling said.
After years of folding to bigger-school opponents in the YAIAA tournament, this Eastern team doesn't back down.
"We haven't always been able to come on the field with that much confidence, especially in this tournament," Crumling said Wednesday. "We've been intimidated.
"I think that's the difference in our team this year. Our girls don't really feel that way."
The Golden Knights certainly showed that during their 2-1, overtime win against Spring Grove in the league tournament semifinals Wednesday at Northeastern. Eastern was physical from the get-go, led by senior midfielder Dani Krohn (pictured above). The Kentucky commit was a rock in the center of the park, jostling for loose balls and generally keying the Golden Knights attack. She is rated the No. 71 girls' soccer recruit in the 2010 class by TopDrawerSoccer.com.
It was a genuinely enjoyable game. Both team were committed without being dirty. They slid in for tackles and jumped for 50/50 balls. That stubborn attitude has provided a huge boost for Eastern, a program which had never won a league tournament game before this season.
"It was just a really good battle," Crumling said of Wednesday's semifinal. "Within the first five minutes, I think our girls knew that this game is just as much ours as it is theirs."
"We were state qualifiers my freshman year, so we have the bar set," said junior Cyrena Smith, who scored Eastern's game-winner with 38 seconds left in overtime Wednesday. "We're just reaching for it."
Eastern will play another Division I team in the tournament final. This time, the opponent will be division champion Dallastown, which features a sturdy back-line led by senior Katie Austin and junior Ashley Lindo. The Wildcats held Central York scoreless Wednesday in the other semifinal.
The task will be difficult. But if Eastern's past performances are any indication, they won't back down.
Rutter out for Central
I was a little shocked when I read Kimberly Ruth's game story from last night's Central-Dallastown tilt and discovered that Panthers star Dani Rutter had been playing all season with a torn meniscus.
Rutter, who will play at William & Mary in the fall, was one of the more exciting players I watched all season. I twice saw her score unbelievable goals -- including a 40-yard free kick against West York -- and marveled at her fanciful footwork, blink-of-an-eye direction changes and overall elusiveness. Her style is one that requires quick movements -- and sturdy legs with which to make those movements on.
That's why her meniscus injury so floored me.
"It says a lot about Dani's character and the passion she has for playing this game," Central coach Liz Critchfield said after Wednesday's game. "She has so much pain tolerance and love for this game and her love for Central. And that's the heartbreak for us (Wednesday) that we didn't get that winning game for her because she goes (today) for that surgery."
Recovery from meniscus surgery varies, but it certainly isn't an overnight affair. That means Rutter has most likely played her last soccer game for Central.
Pecht wins Gatorade Player of the Year
Little off the YAIAA radar here, but figured I'd include this nugget because of its Central Pennsylvania ties. Cumberland Valley standout Cassie Pecht has been named the Gatorade Pennsylvania Girls' Soccer Player of the Year.
Pecht, a sophomore midfielder, has piled up 11 goals and 13 assists this season for the Eagles (15-2-1), and is a member of the U.S. Soccer Federation Under-17 Women's National Team. TowDrawerSoccer.com rates her the No. 7 prospect in the country in the 2012 class.