BY JEFF FALK
LITITZ – The way it turns out, the Cedar Crest girls’ soccer team is color blind. What most of us perceive as red, the Falcons see green.
Green as in ‘Go!’.
On Wednesday night at damp Warwick Stadium, a red-card call that went their way fueled the Falcons’ dramatic 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Lancaster Mennonite, in the opening round of the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs. The Blazers were nursing a 2-1 edge when they were whistled for pulling CC striker Adrienne Yoder down from behind with 8:36 left, and Cedar Crest parlayed the resulting ‘power play’ into the tying and winning goals.
With Mennonite down a player, Yoder notched the game-winner with 4:15 remaining on a great move in the box. The Falcons had tied the game at two on a direct kick that resulted from the red card – a well-placed right-footer by sophomore midfielder Haleigh Echard.
The win boosted Cedar Crest to 11-7-1 overall and into Thursday’s semifinals of the L-L League playoffs. Awaiting the Falcons at 5 p.m. at Manheim Central will be Conestoga Valley, which edged Donegal 4-3 in overtime.
“There’s no quit in us,” said Cedar Crest head coach Daryl Neiswender. “That’s the way we’ve been all season. We never give up. That’s the way we play. Do you know who we feed off? We go off A-train’s (Yoder’s) intensity.
“The last defender fouled, so it’s a red card,” Neiswender continued. “It doesn’t matter if it’s in the box, it’s a red card. You don’t know what would’ve happened if A-train (Yoder) wasn’t taken down. She was going in on the keeper and was taken down.”
Yoder became both dangerous and dynamic when Erica Bachman found her open deep in the box. Yoder trapped the ball with her body, turned sharply to her left, took a few quick steps to shed her defender, then at a hard angle, slid a ball with her right foot insde the far post.
“Erica Bachman knocked it into A-train,” said Neiswender. “A-train can turn into a defender. When we saw her turn, I thought right away, ‘the game is over’. She usually finishes her chances.
Echard’s tying tally was just as skilled as Yoder’s game-winner was athletic. From 28 yards out – on the restart from the red card – Echard ripped a precise blast just inside the crossbar.
“She can hit a ball low and hard with either foot,” said Neiswender of Echard. “She can look at a wall and if she doesn’t think she can get it by it with her right foot, she’ll take it with her left foot. She doesn’t care.
Lancaster Mennonite had erased Cedar Crest’s 1-0 halftime lead with a pair of goals from Tricia Tshudy in a 13-minute span in the middle of the second half. First, Tshudy rocketted a right-footer inside the cross bar, then she used her left foot to cap a semi-breakaway.
“Number one (Tshudy) is a heck of a player,” said Neiswender. “She can hit a ball. I just think we saw some great soccer tonight, from both teams.”
The Falcons grabbed a one-goal lead on their first shot of the game, 7:51 into the contest. A good hustle play by CC’s Jessica Zavadak set up Yoder in front of the Blazer net, and the prolific Yoder made no mistakes.
“Their defender thought the ball was going out of bounds and she slowed down,” said Neiswender. “Zavadak stayed with it. It was a mistake, defensively. But it was back-and-forth tonight.
In the final tally, Lancaster Mennonite out shot Cedar Crest 9-8 and enjoyed a 3-1 edge in corner kicks.