SOUTH LEBANON – High expectations, complacency and injuries may have lulled it into a false sense of security. But now there are signs that the Cedar Crest girls’ soccer team may be waking from its near season-long slumber.
On Tuesday night under the lights of Earl Boltz Stadium, the Falcons performed like the reigning Lancaster-Lebanon League champions that they are, taking it to Hempfield in a 3-1 triumph. After spotting the Black Knights a 1-0 head start, Cedar Crest rattled off three unanswered goals – two of which came off the feet of senior striker Gabby Boehmer – to win going away.
It was one of Cedar Crest most complete wins of the campaign and left it 6-3-1 overall and 4-2-1 in Section One of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. Hempfield, which slipped to 5-4 on the fall and 4-3 in the section, had come in ahead of the Falcons in both the section standings and the District Three Class AAAA power rankings, and with an earlier 2-0 victory over Crest in its back pocket.
“Yeah, absolutely we were struggling,” said Cedar Crest head coach Lauren King. “And I’m going to say we’re not out of them yet. I never know which team is going to show up. Honetsly, it’s just been not playing as a team and not putting a solid 80 minutes together.
“Yes, absolutely this was an important win,” King continued. “We showed them (her players) the league standings before the game. We knew where Hempfield was. We knew this would put us in better position in the league and for districts.”
Last night, it was a goal by Boehmer 2:42 before halftime which got Cedar Crest headed in the right direction.
Off a throw-in from Haleigh Echard, sophomore Ce Ce Fiorentino slipped a short pass to Boehmer in close. Instead of settling the feed, Boehmer half-volleyed the ball with her right foot inside the far post to tie the score at one.
Then 8:34 into the second half, Boehmer took on the role of play-maker, setting up teammate Kayla Krall for the Falcon tally that would prove to be the game-winner. Krall ran on to Boehmer’s diagonal ball, beat her defender and got enough of the ball with her body to direct it past Black Knight keeper McKenna Zerbe and inside the left post.
“The key for us was keeping our composure,” said King. “That really helped us tonight. We had so many chances at the beginning of the game, and we just kept coming. We told the girls before the game to keep their focus, even if they (the Black Knights) scored first. We didn’t let up.
“Quite honestly, that focus has really helped us,” added King. “Earlier in the season we weren’t playing a full 80 minutes. Now we’re putting together a full game. They (her players) see how tight the league is, how competitive the league is. I think it sort of lit a fire under the girls.”
Five minutes after Krall’s goal, Boehmer provided her side with a little breathing room.
A nifty feed from Fiorentino placed Boehmer in the position of having time to size up Zerbe. Following a couple of touches, the unmarked Boehmer slid a ball along the ground to the far post with her right foot.
Cedar Crest attempted only two shots in the second half and scored on both of them.
“I’ll be honest, I think this was the best game Gabby played this year,” said King. “She’s been hurt, with a knee injury. I really thought we did a good job of linking our passes, and we were stringing things together.
“Hales (Haleigh Echard) is in the midfield area,” added King. “The great thing is they’re (her players) very flexible and they really go where we need them.”
Thirteen minutes into the match, Echard served a great ball from a sharp angle that found Krall right in front of the Hempfield net. But Zerbe, positioned perfectly, robbed Krall from point-blank range.
Five minutes later, Hempfield assumed a 1-0 edge on a goal from Marah Foltz.
“Yeah, I thought we were putting things together,” said King. “We were getting opportunities. We just had to stay together.
“We just have to keep winning big games,” continued King. “I’m showing the girls the standings before every single game, and leave that up to them. You can’t teach intensity and heart. You’ve got to leave that up to them.”
Cedar Crest enjoyed a 6-4 advantage in shots on goal. Falcon senior keeper Katie Gable came up with two saves.
“One of our biggest goals was to defend our league title,” said King. “We wanted to be up there in the section and get to districts. A couple of games ago, those goals weren’t in sight. But now they’re starting to pan out. We’ll see how they (her players) respond the rest of the way.”