ELIZABETHTOWN – Playoffs can be about forgiving yourself and forgetting. This postseason is definitely about second chances for the Cedar Crest girls’ soccer team.
It’s a chance for the Falcons to win a second Lancaster-Lebanon League championship. And it’s a second chance for the Falcons to show exactly how good of a team they really are.
On Saturday afternoon at Elizabethtown High School, Cedar Crest played like the defending league champs that they are, something it didn’t always do during the recently completed regular season. The Falcons scored early and late in both halves of their L-L League quarterfinal playoff, and ran away from neighborhood rival Elco 4-1.
Senior striker Gabby Boehmer notched a hat trick for the Falcons and assisted on the other CC goal, as Crest generated offense from the midfield and applied almost constant pressure to the Elco net. On the other side of the field, the Falcon defense made it an easy afternoon for keeper Katie Gable, not surrendering the Raiders’ goal until nine minutes of the second half had remained.
Cedar Crest, the Lancaster-Lebanon Section One third-place finisher which was without the services of all-star midfielder Haleigh Echard, moved to 11-6-1 overall and into Tuesday’s semifinal opposite Cocalico, which blanked Manheim Township 2-0. That game will be contested at 7 p.m. back at E-town High.
Elco, champions of Section Three and now 10-6-1 on the season, had endured a similar 3-1 loss to Cedar Crest during the schools’ annual meeting for the Blue-Gray Cup in September.
“I think the fact that it was a league playoff game definitely helped,” said Cedar Crest head coach Lauren King. “And it was our County rival. We knew we had to play tough.
“During the regular season we play (Elco) for a cup, and now they (her players) have something to play for again” King added. “It seems like any time we play them there’s a lot on the line. That’s what we said, ‘This is a second chance. We’re here (in the playoffs) now. Let’s make the best of it.'”
“I’d have to say it (Cedar Crest) wasn’t the team I was looking forward to playing,” added Fulk. “It’s good for the kids. It’s a county thing. There’s a lot of talent and depth in Section One. It’s a big challenge for us to play a Section One team, but I thought we could’ve played better.”
Boehmer got the Falcons off on the right foot with her right foot, tallying the goal that made it 1-0 5:27 into the match.
After a teammate had carried the ball down the right sideline and crossed a centering pass into the goal mouth, the ball bounced off the hands of Elco goal keeper Brittany Hartman. A Raider defender bailed Hartman out the first time, but Boehmer was there for the second rebound and slammed it home.
Then with 1:37 to go in the first half, Boehmer assisted on the Cece Fiorentino goal that would prove to be the game-winner. Fiorentino beat both Hartman and a Raider defender to Boehmer’s feed, quickly turned and slid a shot along the ground and into the net.
“I thought we played really well,” said King. “We definitely needed to possess the ball, and we did. And that kept us composed.
“I didn’t know till we got here,” said Fulk about the absence of Echard. “I’m not too concerned with them. Maybe it hurt us that she wasn’t here. The fact that they didn’t have Echard may have given them a chip on their shoulders.”
Cedar Crest upped its advantage to 3-0 11:16 into the second half, after it did a good job of possessing the ball in the midfield. Kayla Krall slid a pass to Boehmer, who went left, then right before ripping a right-footer into the top left corner of the net.
Four minutes after Raider Beth Schomp converted a feed from Danya Willhoyte to get Elco on the board, Krall and Boehmer collaborated again to seal the deal. Krall controlled from the right side, found Boehmer in front of the Elco net and the senior forward volleyed the pass out of the air and into the twines.
“Gabby was hurt a lot of the year,” said King. “She played really well. She had space and was finishing. This was definitely one of her best games of the year.
“She’s fantastic,” said Fulk of Boehmer. “We gave her way too much time and space. When you do that, a player of her caliber is going to pick you apart. She created a lot of good chances, for herself and her teammates. They’re definitely not a one-person team. They’re a very solid team.
“When it got to 3-0, it was like a dagger in the chest,” continued Fulk. “But when we got one back, it was like ‘we were still in it.’ But the fourth goal was a killer.”
The Falcons’ dominance was manifested in their 23-4 advantage in shots.
“Was I pleased with our regular season? Yes and no,” said King. “It depends on the games we played. We gave up some games, but I felt like we’ve picked it up and became the team we can be. We just picked up our intensity and our urgency. The girls got it. But we can’t let up, even for a minute.
“Last year,” King added, “we felt like the underdogs and felt like our backs were against the wall. The girls are excited to be here again.”
“I was very happy with our regular season, after losing seven seniors and having an eighth starter decide not to come out,” said Fulk, whose squad currently stands eighth in the District Three Class AA rankings. “Our upperclassmen did a great job and stepped up. When we needed them, we won the games we had to win.
“We’ve got to regroup,” continued Fulk. “We can’t play the way we did today and expect to do well in districts. If we come to play, we can make some noise and win a couple of games, for sure. We’ve been up and down towards the end of the season. We’ve got to find a way to make it work.”