BY JEFF FALK
SOUTH LEBANON – Cedar Crest first burst onto the Lancaster-Lebanon girls’ soccer scene in the spring of the 2011-12 season. And while they have endured the loss of a solid senior class since, the fact that that campaign was a mere four months ago seems to have provided the Falcons with a positive carry-over, as well as a sense of continutation.
On Wednesday afternoon, Cedar Crest continued to ride that momentum, as it ripped McCaskey 8-0 in a Lancaster-Lebanon Section One match. The Falcons notched seven first-half goals to invoke the mercy rule during the second 40 minutes of play.
Six different Falcons found the back of the net, including sophomore Jill Reise and junior Haleigh Echard, who tallied two goals apiece. Meanwhile, Cedar Crest received assists from five completely different sources.
In all, 11 of Cedar Crest’s 17 field players figured in the scoring.
With the result, the Falcons, who were coming off a tough 3-2 loss to Conestoga Valley on Monday, improved to 6-2 overall and 5-1 in the section. The Red Tornado fell to 0-7 on the season and 0-6 in the circuit.
“We knew we were in the toughest league in the area,” said Cedar Crest rookie head coach Lauren King. “In simple words, we never thought we’d be here. The girls have improved, and they’re stepping up now. We have a solid group of girls.
“I absolutely think that the girls ending in the spring has played a huge role in the fall,” King continued. “They were on a high. They were ready to turn around and do it again. It was easy for them to remember back to the spring. Just like Nikki (Sr. GK Harner) said, ‘I want this.’ Leaders motivating other players have helped the team.”
In opening a 4-0 lead 13 minutes in, Cedar Crest scored on its first four shots of the game. Sparkplug Gabby Boehmer got t he Falcons off on the right foot by converting a cross from Becca Robbins from the left wing.
Less than a minute later, senior Amanda Harmuth made it 2-0 on a very similar set-up, a feed from Cece Fiorentino from the left side.
“Actually, the goals today were a lot different than the ones we’ve been scoring,” said King. “Today it was great to see some of our goals coming off crosses. They (her players) were aggressive in the box. It was nice to see the great variety of girls scoring. We were working the ball.
“We were pretty confident,” added King. “Coming off the Conestoga Valley game on Monday, we were ready to bounce back. We have a pretty competitive group of girls. They knew they could play better.”
Seven minutes in, Lauren Levengood gave the Falcons a three-goal advantage when her unassisted shot on net was misplayed by the McCaksey keeper for a goal. Then Echard, a junior midfielder, got into the act by picking up a loose ball in the middle of the box and ripping a left-footer into the top corner of the net.
Reis put the outcome to rest with two goals in less than a minute’s time. First, she cut hard to accept a short pass from Kayla Koehler, then she drilled a right-footer to the top shelf to make it 6-0 CC.
“This game was as important as any game,” said King. “I told the girls before the game, ‘If you come out flat, you’re going to get knocked on your butt.’ I drilled it into them that they can’t come out flat. I told them it wasn’t a joke, they needed to be focused and come out and play.
“The match went well,” continued King. “We worked the ball around. We passed the ball. Overall it was a good performance.”
The Falcons were just as dominant defensively as they were offensively. The Crest defense didn’t allow McCaskey to even sniff a scoring opportunity.
Harner and Kate Gable shared the shutout, without either logging a save. The Falcons piled up 17 shots on goal, while taking three corner kicks.
“From game to game, we just want to be consistent,” said King. “We’re a team who can possess the ball so well. But when teams come at us with pressure, we don’t do it as well, we panic a little bit. I want to be able to move the ball and work on the little connections.
“At the beginning of the season I just wanted to be .500 and make the playoffs,” added King. “Now I want to go far in leagues and districts. The next time we come around to Conestoga Valley, I want to be playing for first place. We have a pretty young team, so while we’re going it I want to continue to build.”