GIRLS' SOCCER: Late goal pushes Hempfield past Manheim Township
LANDISVILLE - Coming into their Section One match Tuesday night versus Hempfield, the Manheim Township Lady Blue Streaks were in the driver's seat in the race for a section championship.
Unfortunately for the Blue Streaks, Sammy Helgeson and her Hempfield soccer teammates were all too eager riding shotgun.
Helgeson scored the game-winning goal in the 76th minute, the Hempfield defense and goalkeeper tandem withstood the Streaks' onslaught, and the Lady Knights remained in contention with Township and Conestoga Valley for the section title by besting the Blue Streaks 1-0 at Hempfield High School.
"Well, it was a team effort," Helgeson said of her late tally. "It started from the back, the defense cleared it out and Meagan (Hukill) played a great ball. We just did it for the seniors, it was their senior night, so we're very excited."
After Hempfield (8-2-1 L-L, 10-2-2 overall) honored its seniors by giving them the start - even those with injuries - and turning the ball over out of bounds to substitute, Township (8-2-1, 12-2-1) took possession and immediately attacked the goal with Briana Bracero's strike off the post and Aubrey Suydam's subsequent blast over the goal.
But the longer Hempfield weathered the storm, the more the Lady Knights seemed poised to pull themselves even.
"If we stayed disciplined defending we knew we'd have our opportunities, as few as they may be or as much as they may be," said Hempfield head coach Jason Mackey, crediting his back line for playing well together.
Indeed, Hempfield's opportunities grew in the second half, the Lady Knights gaining three corners to Township's one.
Then, in the 71st minute, Helgeson dribbled toward the right corner, using her speed to distance herself from two Township defenders. Reaching the dribble 25 yards out, however, the junior midfielder's shot went well wide.
"That was wide open, it went far right," Helgeson said. "(But) I didn't put my head down."
Like Helgeson, Township midfielder Maddie Kohl was all over the field Tuesday night, Kohl stopping a Lady Knight free-kick in the box and eventually notching a shot on goal toward Hempfield's second half keeper Maggie Pohl (4 saves).
But an ensuing Knights' counter proved the difference, Helgeson taking the feed from Hukill and working left around two defenders, firing far corner past Township keeper Katy Hollinger (4 saves) for the game-winner.
"Definitely counter attacks were the biggest thing that would help us," Helgeson said. "They were really good possessing the ball. We tried to keep it out of the middle, kept trying to get the runs on the sides and it ended up working."
The Lady Knights pulled out the victory despite giving up double-digit shots on goal, McKenna Zerbe stopping four shots in a first half dominated by the Streaks.
"That's exactly how the first game went," said Mackey, whose team tied Township 1-1 three weeks ago. "Bend don't break, a little luck here or there and all you need is that one chance and to finish that one chance, and that's what we got today."
Hempfield now finds itself with a chance to clinch a tie for the section title Thursday afternoon versus Conestoga Valley (9-2, 11-3), or to win it outright should Township drop its home game with Penn Manor.
"We can't look ahead; just keep our heads," Helgeson said. "Township's always really tough, they're huge rivals. It was great to play them and win."
Girls' High School Soccer
L-L Section One
Hempfield 1, Manheim Township 0
MT 0 0 - 0
HEM 0 1 - 0
Manheim Township Scoring: NA
Manheim Township Assists: NA
Hempfield Scoring: S. Helgeson (76:00)
Hempfield Assists: NA
Saves: MT K. Hollinger 4; HM M. Zerbe 4, M. Pohl 4