BY JEFF FALK
There’s something magical about the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs for the Cedar Crest girls’ soccer team. For some reason they seem to bring out the best in the Falcons.
On Tuesday night at Manheim Central High School, Cedar Crest won its second consecutive Lancaster-Lebanon League championship with a tough-as-nails 2-1 triumph over Conestoga Valley. Sherry Moore’s goal off a restart 6:37 into the second half proved decisive for Cedar Crest.
At times, the Falcons were outplayed by the Buckskins. Conestoga Valley controlled the pace of the game and generated a handful of dangerous scoring opportunities.
Conestoga Valley out shot Cedar Crest 11-4 and enjoyed a 13-2 margin in penalty kicks. But the Falcons scored on half of their attempts and got a strong game in goal from senior keeper Katie Gable, who came up with eight saves, some of which were of the spectacular variety.
The win lifted Cedar Crest to 13-6-1 overall. During the regular season, the Falcons finished third in Section One of the L-L and didn’t qualify for the circuit’s postseason until the last game of the year.
The Buckskins, who slipped to 17-3 overall, won the Section One championship.
It was the sixth straight win in the Lancaster-Lebanon League tournament for the Falcons, dating back to last season.
Moore scored the game-winner on a well-placed 25-yard free kick. Conestoga Valley keeper Jess Plunkett got a glove on Moore’s ball to the upper corner of the net, but not enough to keep it out.
Right wing Kayla Krall had given Cedar Crest a 1-0 lead 17:19 into the first half. Krall corralled a feed from Gabby Boehmer, worked the ball around Plunkett and tapped it home.
The Buckskins came up with the equalizer 3:33 before halftime. Sisters Gianna and Samara Yurchak collaborated on the score, which originated from the left-side of the attack.
Cedar Crest is now responsible for two of Conestoga Valley’s three losses this season. The Falcons also defeated the Buckskins 3-2 on September 16 in South Lebanon.
Conestoga Valley returned the favor on October 8 in Witmer, with a 3-2 victory over the Falcons.
Now the Falcons will be charged with the task of avoiding the emotional letdown of a quick turnaround. On Friday at 4 p.m. in Landisville, Cedar Crest will meet another Section One foe, Hempfield, during the play-in round of the District Three Class AAA playoffs.
Cedar Crest is the 17th seed in that tournament, while 10-6 Hempfield drew the 16th seed. During the regular season, Cedar Crest split with Hempfield, losing 2-0 in Landisville on September 3 and winning 3-1 in South Lebanon on September 24.