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Fairfield staying calm as title game approaches

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Hannah Logue might as well have just finished practice.

The Fairfield senior showed just a hint of a smile as she spoke calmly with reporters at Cumberland Valley High School on Tuesday. It was hard to believe just minutes earlier she was joyously hugging teammates after yet another monumental win for the girls' soccer program.

Fairfield had just beaten Warrior Run, 3-0, in the PIAA Class 1A semifinals to advance to the program's first state title game. The Green Knights (24-1) will play Shady Side Academy (19-3) for the championship at Hersheypark Stadium at 11 a.m., Friday.

It's a special moment for a small school that doesn't typically enjoy much athletic success, but the players are somehow staying relaxed in the moment.

"We celebrate every game for a little bit but then we have to get back to work to get the next one," Logue said. "I love this team and I never want it to end, but I feel I’m going to accept it a lot better if we’re playing in a championship game."

That type of response is expected from a veteran leader like Logue, but it reflects the mindset of the entire team. While the Green Knights have just one other senior starter (Sarah Heinbaugh) and four freshman in the lineup, the entire team reacted to Tuesday's win the same: A quick celebration, and then back to business.

It's not that the Green Knights young players aren't excited and nervous about playing for a state title, they're just trying to stay focused on the task at hand.

"I know my teammates are there for me, so there's less pressure, but it’s still a lot of pressure," freshman striker Annabel Anderson said. "It feels pretty good but again we have to finish, forget this game and go on to the next game."

The players may be staying calm, but Fairfield head coach Phomma Phanhthy has brought enough excitement to the table for the entire team. The second-year head coach spent most of Tuesday's game the way he usually does — energetically shouting encouragement to his players and raising his index finger in the air at the end.

For Phanhthy, the best part about the team reaching the state championship game has been the joy it has brought the players and their families. He joked that he has been losing his voice throughout the playoffs as the team's group of supporters has grown larger.

"The players can’t hear me over the fans," Phanhthy said with a smile. "It means everything for them. Not only for the girls but for the community, the school, every parent that has driven the kids to every practice since they were really small. It’s fantastic. The town is appreciating the way they play so it’s been nice."

Following Tuesday's win Phanhthy admitted he knows "nothing" about Shady Side, which beat Greensburg Central Catholic, 1-0, in its semifinal match on Tuesday. The Indians won the District VII title this season and enter the title game having won 13 straight games.

The Green Knights are riding their own six-game winning streak after losing their only game of the season to Central York in the YAIAA title game. Fairfield has outscored opponents 18-3 in its three state playoff wins while Shady Side has won its three PIAA games by a combined total of 13-1.

"As young as (the Green Knights) are, they’re very mature and it’s just another game for them," Phanhthy said. "It’s exciting to watch them play.”

If you go

Who: Fairfield (24-1) vs. Shady Side Academy (19-3)
What: PIAA Class 1A girls' soccer championship 
Where: Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Pa. 
When: Friday, 11 a.m.