BY JEFF FALK
SOUTH LEBANON – One minute emotion is your best friend, and the next, a sworn enemy.
The trick is to maximize it when it’s on your side, and grind through it when it is your opposition.
On Monday night at Earl Boltz Stadium, two days after winning the most important title in program history, the Cedar Crest girls’ soccer team overcame the emotional residue associated with it, as well as a very tough Lampeter-Strasburg squad, in the opening round of the District Three Class AAA playoffs. Gabby Boehmer’s goal 6:32 into overtime did the trick, as the Falcons advanced with a 1-0 victory over the Pioneers.
Boehmer’s game-winner was one of a number of scoring chances Cedar Crest generated, but perhaps the most dangerous.
The Falcons’ fourth straight postseason triumph was also their third victory over Lampeter-Strasburg season. Five days ago, in the semifinals of the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs, Cedar Crest edged the Pioneers 3-2 in overtime.
That win propelled the Falcons into Saturday’s L-L championship match, where they emerged victorious over Cocalico via penalty kicks.
Up next for the 18-4 Falcons is the District Three Class AAA top-seed and 19-1-1 Wilson, which blasted Dover 6-0. The quarterfinal match will be played on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Tulpehocken High School, with the winner assuring itself a trip to the PIAA tournament.
Lampeter-Strasburg concluded its campaign with a 15-3-1 mark.
“We played pretty decent,” said Cedar Crest first-year head coach Lauren King. “In the first half we were definitely composed and we put it together. We may have panicked at the end (of regulation). I don’t like a lot of kick and run. It wasn’t the best game we played, but we didn’t have a bad game.
“It’s (a four-game postseason winning streak) a great feeling,” King continued, “but I try to stay humble because I know it can be taken at any second. But the girls really deserve it because they work hard. I want us to gain confidence, but I don’t want us to become comfortable.”
Though the Falcons carried the play most of the evening, they were also one mistake, one breakdown away from being eliminated. Instead, Boehmer took matters into her own hands.
Gobbling up a feed from freshman Cece Fiorentino six minutes into ‘bonus soccer’, Boehmer went right near the top of the box. She unleashed a hard, well-placed right-footer for which Pioneer goalie Maddie Lawhead had to extend.
Lawhead got most of it, but the ball slid off her fingertips and trickled into the net, setting off a wild Cedar Crest celebration in the box.
Three minutes earlier, Falcon senior netminder Nikki Harner had come up big twice, on back-to-back dangerous Lampeter-Strasburg chances.
“I didn’t think it was going in,” said King of Boehmer’s goal. “But it was a good shot and she (Boehmer) deserved it. She fought against girls bigger than her all game.
“At that point, it was definitely ‘take a shot and get it on goal’,” King added. ” ‘Shoot and hope for the best’. But it was a good shot.”
Cedar Crest nearly broke the scoreless tie with 14:18 of regulation remaining when Boehmer and Haleigh Echard turned a short corner into a good low hard shot off the left foot of Echard. Nine minutes after halftime, Echard used a good cross to connect with a hard-charging Fiorentino, but the freshman missed a partially open net high.
“Most of the game, yes we had the better of the play,” said King. “But Lampeter-Strasburg is a tough team and they’re a tough team to score on. I thought we created a lot. It was just unfortunate we didn’t finish sooner.
“I don’t think overtime is anything you want to go into,” added King. “We were dead because of overtime the last two games. It was definitely one of the last things we wanted to have.”
The Falcons also generated a near miss 6:19 before intermission, when Echard broke down the left sideline. The junior midfielder and the most valuable player in Section One of the L-L this season got off a good left-footer, but her angle was too severe to pose much of a threat.
“Actually, the last two games we played were two of the best defensive games we played all year,” said King. “The girls back there are really connecting and really playing strong. Delaney (Cole) is a good athlete, she’s a sophomore and I’ve seen her grow. And it helps having Nikki (Harner) back there too.”
Cedar Crest parlayed a 7-1 advantage in first-half shots into a 12-7 total margin. Each team took two corner kicks.
“Well, we’re playing the number one seed next,” said King. “We kind of wanted to see how we matched up with Wilson. They’re probably going to be skilled like no other team we’ve seen before. Realistically, we can go as far as states.”