BY JEFF FALK
LITITZ – No matter how bad things seem, they could always be worse.
The silver lining for the Cedar Crest girls’ lacrosse team’s lop-sided season-ending loss? Well, at least it came in the playoffs.
On Tuesday evening at Warwick High School, the Falcons’ productive spring season came to a screeching halt, in the form of a 23-2 loss to mighty Manheim Township, in the semifinals of the Lancaster-Lebanon League postseason. The skilled and speedy Blue Streaks possessed the ball for long periods of the game and poured in goals in bunches.
In fact, during the middle of the contest, Manheim Township tallied 14 unanswered goals to open an insurmountable 17-1 bulge, early in the second half. In all, 11 different Blue Streaks found the back of the net.
With the win, Manheim Township, the Section One champion, moved to 17-2 overall and into Thursday’s L-L League championship game. Cedar Crest, which had endured a 23-8 regular-season setback to the Blue Streaks, completed its campaign 9-10, after finishing second in Section Two with a 7-8 mark.
Yesterday marked the second straight time, in the nine-year history of the Cedar Crest girls’ lacrosse program, that the Falcons had qualified for the postseason. Last season ended the same way this season did for Cedar Crest, with a loss to Manheim Township.
“We were actually down three starters, and our goalie (Katie Hayes) was suffering from an injury,” said Cedar Crest head coach Emma Lebo. “That wasn’t our most competitive lineup. But Manheim Township is, by far, the best team in the league.
“I just told them (her players), ‘put up a good fight'”,” Lebo continued. “We were definitely the underdogs coming in. But there was no reason we couldn’t put our hearts and souls into it.”
The Blue Streaks’ ability to win draws after goals led to extended possessions, sustained pressure on the Cedar Crest goal and uninterrupted momentum. And the Falcons found the scoring difficult without the ball.
In assuming a 3-0 advantage 2:11 into the contest, Manheim Township won the opening draw, as well as the next two. When the Falcons finally did possess the ball, junior Nikki Wagner pulled her side to within two goals.
After working hard to get herself open in front of the Blue Streak cage, Wagner whipped a high shot into the twines.
“That’s huge,” said Lebo of the strategic advantage of winning the post-goal draws. “Two of our three girls who were injured excel at draws. Manheim Township certainly has strategy on every single draw control. Give them credit.
“They (the Blue Streaks) are very deep,” Lebo added. “They start their kids in elementary school. That’s something we’re striving for. It’s all about experience and depth.”
Manheim Township tallied the last 13 goals of the first half and took a 16-1 advantage to the break. The Blue Streaks did not attempt a shot on goal – instead choosing to simply play ‘keepaway’ – for the final 3:12 of the first half, three minutes after Lebo had changed netminders in an attempt to spark her charges.
“We played them (the Blue Streaks) once in the regular season,” said Lebo, “and we were goal-for-goal with them for the first 12 minutes. They have so much depth they outlasted us. But we’re definitely striving to get better.
“We did not make districts this year,” Lebo added. “After we lost the starters, our season took a downward turn. They take the top 16 teams for districts, and we could’ve competed with a lot of them. We were always close to the cusp of districts. But injuries and sickness got the best of us at the end of the season.”
Manheim Township netted the first goal of the second half, 4:11 into the stanza. But Cedar Crest answered three minutes later, with Wagner’s second of the contest, off a restart.
But that would prove to be all the offense the Falcons could muster. The Blue Streaks scored the final six goals of the game.
“Our record would’ve been better, but there were a lot of hurdles thrown our way in the second half of the season,” said Lebo. “The competitiveness and the outcomes of games were better than in the past. We gave teams like Manheim Township better games.
“We’ve made huge improvements,” Lebo continued. “Four years ago, we won one game. This year, we should’ve been a district contender. We have a lot of girls in our feeder program who are competitive. It’s been a good run. I can’t wait till next year.”
Manheim Township out shot Cedar Crest 29-4.
District Three Girls’ Lacrosse Power Rankings
RANK SCHOOL NAME POWER RATING
1 Exeter Township (18-0-0) 0.798173
2 Kennard Dale (16-1-0) 0.746608
3 Manheim Township (16-2-0) 0.742330
4 Cumberland Valley (13-2-0) 0.732583
5 Hershey (14-2-0) 0.716033
6 York Catholic (14-2-0) 0.698859
7 Governor Mifflin (15-3-0) 0.693833
8 Lancaster Country Day (15-3-0) 0.660906
9 Cocalico (11-5-0) 0.627428
10 Susquehannock (12-5-0) 0.626618
11 South Western (13-3-0) 0.622708
12 Lower Dauphin (10-5-0) 0.602051
13 Elizabethtown Area (10-5-0) 0.582051
14 Wilson (11-7-0) 0.581294
15 Hempfield (10-7-0) 0.576851
16 Carlisle (9-5-0) 0.569661
17 West York Area (8-7-0) 0.536465
18 Penn Manor (8-9-0) 0.535633
19 Central Dauphin (7-6-0) 0.522332
20 Central Dauphin East (9-7-0) 0.505631
21 Warwick (8-9-0) 0.505399
22 York Suburban (7-8-1) 0.501270
23 Wyomissing Area (7-8-0) 0.495000
24 Cedar Crest (9-8-0) 0.486765
25 Berks Catholic (7-11-0) 0.485982
26 Dallastown Area (7-7-1) 0.472965
27 Trinity (5-4-0) 0.455556
28 Lampeter Strasburg (7-10-0) 0.447657
29 Palmyra Area (4-10-0) 0.398878
30 Twin Valley (4-10-0) 0.392657
31 Conrad Weiser (5-13-0) 0.387047
32 Northern York (3-11-0) 0.366705
33 New Oxford (4-11-0) 0.356841
34 Ephrata Area (5-13-0) 0.352778
35 Red Lion Area (4-13-0) 0.351232
36 Central York (4-12-0) 0.343613
37 Eastern York (2-13-0) 0.334089
38 Conestoga Valley (3-15-0) 0.331373
39 Harrisburg Christian (1-4-0) 0.301250
40 Spring Grove Area (2-15-0) 0.301031
41 Chambersburg Area (2-14-0) 0.299782
42 Conestoga Christian (2-6-0) 0.270833
43 Garden Spot (0-17-0) 0.218041
44 Daniel Boone (1-6-0) 0.201299