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GIRLS' SOCCER: E-town knocks off Cocalico, strengthens hold on Section Two

ELIZABETHTOWN>> When Elizabethtown midfielder Talia Grynkewicz told head coach Keith Renner that practicing free-kicks on Tuesday was "the smartest thing you ever did," she wasn't being critical.

Like her teammates, Grynkewicz was simply giddy after pulling out a physical, 2-1 victory Wednesday night in the Lady Bears' matchup versus Cocalico, E-town (10-1 L-L, 11-4) moving five points ahead of the Lady Eagles for first-place in Section Two with three section games to play.

With the score tied a goal apiece halfway through the second half, right-winger Jamie Marsico lofted a perfect ball to Grynkewicz on the breakaway, the Bears' leading goal-scorer depositing the ball left-corner for the game-winner.

"I know how Talia plays because we've been playing together since we were so little," Marsico said of the assist to her best friend. "I kind of just knew where she'd be and I know that if I play a ball she'll get to it."

As she had all night, Grynkewicz toed the line of being offside on the play, but Marsico's timely pass and Grynkewicz's speed worked to perfection.

"I know when she'll play a ball and she'll know the right time to play it," Grynkewicz said. "I saw the goalie wasn't coming out to pressure me and I just thought the far post was open so I just kind of placed it there."

With the defense of Cocalico (8-2-1, 10-2-2) taking away Etown's drop-passes into the corner, the contest became a battle of physical play and free-kicks from the midfield, the Eagles perhaps taking the most advantage.

"I told the girls at the end of the game I thought our play was (postseason) level," said Cocalico coach Dan Hogan on having pushed Elizabethtown through the end. "Now they know what it's like to play at that level. We can come back from this and we can play well. Hats off to Etown; they played great tonight."

Down by a score in the first half, Eagles' senior midfielder Emily Zwiercan took a free-kick opportunity approximately 22 yards out, her drive on goal curling around the Lady Bears' defensive wall to the Bears' goalkeeper Joy Hileman (3 saves), who punched the ball above the goal and off the football goalpost above.

The ensuing corner-kick went through to Zwiercan, but the Lady Eagles' leading scorer wasn't able to come on to it cleanly.

"They've been burning us, not every game, but most of our goals (allowed) have been off the free-kick," Renner said. "We spent over 40 minutes working on it in our practice yesterday so I'm glad it paid off."

Cocalico managed to tie the score ten minutes into the second half when senior Jasa Lorah stole a ball in the corner and centered it to Sam Klumpp working around an Etown defender and delivering past Hileman.

"We talked yesterday how there's going to be moments where we're better than they are and moments where they're better than us," Hogan said. "Jasa found a way, she hustled unbelievably and crossed a beautiful ball, and Sam Klumpp, probably her fifth game in a row she scored a goal, she finished it nicely."

Etown took the first-half lead in the 23rd minute on Maddie Mohr's free kick from the left corner, the ball finding Marsico alone on the far side. Marsico's volley over Eagles' keeper Emily White (3 saves) was Etown's only shot on goal in the opening half, yet provided the all-important halftime lead.

"Oh, that was a beautiful service. That was a great placement by Maddie," Marsico said. "I saw the keeper kind of near-post, it was a slow moving ball but I was kind of sure it was going in the corner, so I was happy with it."

The Lady Bears were even happier to have the victory.

"Just team chemistry, we've been really good with that," Marsico said on toughing-out the ultra-physical contest. "We have a lot great individual talent and our problem has been putting it together and I think we finally did it."

Elizabethtown 2, Cocalico 1


Goals — E: J. Marsico, T. Grynkewicz. C: S. Klumpp.

Assists — E: M. Mohr, J. Marsico. C: J. Lorah.

Shots on goal — E 4, D 4.

Corners — E 3, C 5.

Goalies — E: J. Hileman (3 saves). C: E. White (2).