Lougee bestowed with Coaching Honor

Article by Andy Shay, The Patriot-News/Photo by Christine Baker, The Patriot-News

For the full article and photos, click here.

Long-time Mechanicsburg soccer coach Tony Lougee was honored as the 2013 A.I. Garner Outstanding Coach Award.

Lougee was nominated this year by finalist Natalie Zelenky. And her entire essay was shared with the nearly 250 in attendance. In addition, four other previous Travers Award nominees, including 2007 winner Bobby Warshaw, nominated Lougee for the award. So excerpts of all four of those essays were also shared with the audience.

The John Travers Award started in 1981 and is named for the late executive sports editor of The Patriot-News. The award is sponsored by M&T Bank and co-sponsored by Harrisburg Lions Club and Pennsylvania Media Group.

SHAY ON TWITTER: @APShay

Girls Soccer: Wildcats fall in PIAA Semifinals

Article by Jeffrey Kauffman, The Sentinel

For the full article, click here.

For photographs of the game, click here.

HERSHEY — Cumberland Valley’s girls soccer team won its 19th consecutive playoff game and will play in the state final for the third consecutive year with a 3-0 victory over neighboring Mechanicsburg on Tuesday.

Whitehall edged Red Land 5-3 in the other semifinal to set up the last PIAA spring state soccer final Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium. Whitehall will take on Cumberland Valley at 4 p.m. Saturday for the state title. The Eagles are the defending state champions. Cumberland Valley shut out Whitehall 1-0 on May 5 with a road win.

CV and Mechanicsburg battled as they did a couple of weeks ago in the finals of the Mid-Penn tournament that the Eagles won, 4-0. The Eagles led 3-0 in that game at the half, but this game was a bit different.

“Mechanicsburg came out and played very well,” Eagles coach Seth Lehman said. “We knew they would come out a different team than last time and they are well coached. We made an adjustment to our formation at the half and started to play the ball wide and attack from there. I thought Savannah Hall was great tonight — the best player on the field. Our senior leadership of Elise Krause and Rachel Kovach was been very good and they have made a huge difference this year in directing and making sure the young kids do things the right way.”

Mechanicsburg controlled the ball early in the contest and kept the ball in the offensive zone. Although the Wildcats couldn’t dent the scoreboard, they forced the Eagles to play defense. Eagles goalkeeper Dani Shambaugh made one save but came off her line several other times to play the ball out with her feet.

Later in the half, the Eagles started to get the ball into the offensive zone and get shots on goal. Wildcat keeper Shelby Koch made several nice saves, none nicer than a sliding snag of a shot by Taylor Sneidman off a slick dish from Savannah Hall. Koch got some help from her defense as Emma Malletts was able to head out a shot by Rachel Kovach and Karli Luker was able to clear some balls out of danger.

The game was still scoreless at the half.

Cumberland Valley (25-2) was 3-2 earlier this season, but the Eagles have won 22 consecutive games, allowing only five goals in that stretch of games.

Mechanicsburg had an opportunity early in the second half on a corner kick and a restart just outside the box on a handball that appeared to be on the edge of the box. Holly Burgard’s cross was deflected over the top by Hannah Malletts.

The Eagles had a chance at the other end, but Jen Falconer’s rip sailed wide and high of the far post.

At the 25-minute mark, Sneidman fed a ball across the box and Hall took a rip. The Wildcats’ Autumn Peters stepped in front and blocked the shot. The Wildcat defense continued to bend but not break.

Mechanicsburg (18-7-1) sent the force forward and had a couple of chances in the final 15 minutes, but it left the Wildcats susceptible to the Eagles attack and the Eagles took advantage.

Tara Shipe found Savannah Hall at the top of the box and her rip beat Koch to the far corner for a 2-0 lead.

Burgard had an opportunity late but Erika Hamlin made a strong defensive play to block the initial shot and clear the ball out.

“This was a great game,” said Hall said. “This is the third time in the state finals in three years. I just want to make sure our seniors go out with a win this week. They have been phenomenal leaders. Our defense stepped up today, especially Erika Hamlin, who came out of nowhere on that one shot.”

“We started to get frustrated because they came out in a different formation and what we were playing wasn’t working well against them,” Krause said. “This is great to be in our third state final in the past three years. We were confident in our team but they played extremely well and I have to give credit to them.”

The Eagles tallied the final goal as Hall drilled a corner kick and Rachel Kovach headed it home with just 30 seconds left in the contest.

“These kids have nothing to hang their heads about this year,” said Wildcats coach Tony Lougee, who coached his final girl’s game Tuesday. He will switch to coaching the boys in the fall when the two seasons overlap. “The Penn Manor loss last year was a tough one to get over but these girls gave everything this year and made it much further than anybody would have figured. It is going to be different next year but this group of girls is special and the nucleus is there for next year.”


Article by David Rung, The Patriot-News

For the full article, click here.

For photographs of the game, click here.

Cumberland Valley came into Tuesday’s PIAA semifinal expecting a different Mechanicsburg team than it saw almost a month ago in the Mid-Penn title game.

And although the scores were similar, it was a vastly improved Wildcats squad that CV took out 3-0 at Hersheypark Stadium to move onto Saturday’s state championship.

“We expected a different team, and we definitely got a different team,” said Eagles coach Seth Lehman, whose team defeated Mechanicsburg 4-0 on May 10. “They came out with a lot of intensity, and compacted the middle a lot, and their defense played great.

For nearly the first 60 minutes, both teams showcased impressive defenses. Cumberland Valley’s didn’t allow a shot on goal through the first half, while Mechanicsburg’s forced quality chances wide and high, with keeper Shelby Koch (5 saves) stuffing the others.

With both sides upping the intensity as the game remained scoreless and the minutes tick by, it seemed like neither was going to budge. But as they have many times before, the Eagles hit the critical goal.

“We have moments where we’re really intense, then we have a lull, but then we’re back to being intense again,” CV midfielder Elise Krause said. “So we know that if it’s tied and we’re in a lull, we’re going to bounce back.”

Tara Shipe would open the scoring in the 59th minute, getting a ball from Savannah Hall and heading down the right side of the box. She waited for the keeper to make her move, then slipped it past her to the far corner of the goal for a 1-0 CV lead.

It remained a slim one-goal advantage for 15 minutes, when Hall let go a blast from the top of the box that no one had a chance of stopping, giving the Eagles a 2-0 lead with six minutes to play.

Hall’s corner kick in the final minute was headed in by Rachel Kovach for the final tally to push CV into Saturday’s championship at 4 p.m. back at Hersheypark Stadium opposite Whitehall.

“I thought the girls played well,” Mechanicsburg coach Tony Lougee said. “We just talked about how they improved every month of the season and really started playing well in June.

“Since the last time we played these guys, we’ve been the underdog in almost every game, so there’s nothing to be upset about.”

Girls Soccer: Wildcats down Crusaders, Advance to PIAA Semifinals

Article by Jeffrey Kauffman, The Sentinel

For the full article, click here.

HERSHEY — Mechanicsburg moved on to the PIAA semifinals with a 4-2 victory over Keystone Division nemesis Bishop McDevitt Saturday at HersheyPark Stadium in the opening game of a PIAA tripleheader.

The Wildcats lost to and tied the Crusaders earlier in the season, so the motivation factor was there for Mechanicsburg.

It wasn’t the start the Wildcats wanted, but Mechanicsburg got the response it wanted quickly.

Bishop McDevitt, the District 3 Class AA champion, scored on its first chance with the ball. Kelsie Maloney fed a ball outside to Anna Bailey. Bailey turned, fired, and sailed a shot over Wildcat keeper Shelby Koch from about 40 yards away for an early 1-0 lead.

“The shot caught me by surprise,” Koch said. “The team bailed me out and our defense played well in front of me. Playing against Maloney is such a challenge because she is such a good player. Anytime she gets near with the ball is a challenge.”

Mechanicsburg responded almost immediately when Natalie Zelenky dribbled along the penalty box and dropped a pass to Ally Powell. The junior ripped a shot through the defense and past Crusader keeper Stephanie Quirk for the equalizer just 46 seconds later.

Mechanicsburg (18-6-1) doubled its lead about nine minutes later when Hannah Malletts beat her defender to her right and fired a shot. Quirk deflected the shot but Meghan Ross was in perfect position to tap the rebound in for a 2-1 lead.

Bishop McDevit appeared to have the equalizer but an offside call nullified the goal. Maloney went in on a breakaway and Koch was able to get her body in front of Maloney and deflect the shot, but it bounded to Kali Edwards , who knocked it home. Unfortunately, Edwards was ahead of everybody including the ball.

Zelenky tripled the lead moments later as she drilled a left-footed shot through traffic past Quirk and the ‘Cats led 3-1 going into the half.

In the second half, the ‘Cats surrounded Maloney and forced her to go east and west toward the sidelines instead of north and south where she could be more dangerous. The Wildcat defense kept sending the ball forward where Hannah Malletts, Zelenky, Holly Burgard and Ross as well as midfielders Powell and Nicole Koons could create dangerous situations.

McDevitt cut the lead to one goal as the Crusaders sent a ball over the top and Maloney broke on it. As she dribbled in, Koch tried to come out and cut her off, but she was able to lay the ball to Kali Edwards to knock it home.

Mechanicsburg got an insurance goal from Holly Burgard late in the contest as she dribbled along the 18-yard line searching for the opening. She found it and ripped a laser into the lower corner to give the Wildcats the 4-2 final.

“We were confident in our ability,” Wildcats coach Tony Lougee said. “We responded quickly to their goal and when we went up 2-1 we had other chances to score. Natalie and Holly were solid and our midfield played very well at times. I wasn’t concerned when they scored to cut the lead to one goal because we had been controlling the ball. Holly did what Holly has done for us all year. She made a play to score late.”

“This was the best team in McDevitt history,” McDevitt coach Austin Siodlowsky said. “These kids have nothing to hang their heads about. Mechanicsburg is a very good team and they are well coached. Any team that has players like Burgard and Zelenky is dangerous. They finished their shots and we didn’t for some reason today. We finished 19-5-1 and only lost to Class AAA schools this year. We were unbeaten against Clas AA schools and no one expected us to be here.”

WILDCATS 4, CRUSADERS 2

Bishop McDevitt 1 1 – 2

Mechanicsburg 3 1 – 4

First Half

BM – Anna Bailey, assist Kelsie Maloney, 39:41

M – Ally Powell, assist Natalie Zelenky, 38:55

M – Meghan Ross, assist Hannah Malletts, 30:52

M – Zelenky, 6:07

Second Half

BM – Kali Edwards, assist Maloney, 68:22

M – Holly Burgard, 72:46

Corners: M – 2; BM – 4

Shots: M – 8; BM – 6

Saves: M – (Shelby Koch 4); B – (Stephanie Quirk 3)


Article by David Rung, The Patriot-News

For the full article, click here.

Third time’s a charm.

Mechanicsburg won the Mid-Penn Keystone for a second consecutive year in 2012, but the only thing keeping the Wildcats from an unblemished division record was Bishop McDevitt.

After recording a draw and a loss to the Crusaders during the regular season, Mechanicsburg more than made up for it with a 4-2 victory in the final meeting of the season in Saturday’s PIAA quarterfinals.

“If I’m Mechanicsburg, I’m coming in fired up,” said Bishop McDevitt coach Austin Siodlowski, whose squad completed the most successful soccer season in McDevitt history, complete with a District 3-AA title.

“You have the AA district champs coming in that beat you. If that doesn’t fire up a bigger school, I don’t know what will.”

If the Wildcats weren’t worried coming into the game, they had reason to be quickly, as McDevitt’s Anna Bailey put the Crusaders up just 19 seconds into the contest with a blast from near the right sideline that came from at least 40 yards from the goal.

Instead of falling into a lull though, Mechanicsburg turned right around on the attack and answered the fast start just as quickly, with Natalie Zelenky slipping the ball out to Ally Powell, who buried a rocket from the top of the box just 46 seconds later.

“I’m just excited for the girls,” Wildcat coach Tony Lougee said. “They’re our first soccer team to make it to the state semifinals, and I think very few teams from Mechanicsburg have overall.

“They just play well as a team. They’re not individualistic at all. They just want to work together and that’s what makes the difference.”

Mechanicsburg would quickly make it 2-1 when Meghan Ross cleaned up a rebound off a Hannah Mallets shot in the 10th minute.

The Wildcats would go on to control possession for much of the rest of the half, with McDevitt’s best chance to tie it coming midway through the period as both Kelsie Maloney and Kali Edwards got off a shot during a flurry in front of the net.

As the period wound down, Natalie Zelenky made her presence known with a blast from the top of the box that made it 3-1.

“I think that the thing with this team is, whenever they face adversity, they get more composed,” Lougee said. “I think sometimes when we start getting comfortable is when we need to be a little more tenacious.”

His team made that statement come true in the final 15 minutes of the game, when McDevitt capitalized on a defensive mishap that left Edwards wide open in front of the net. An easy pass from Maloney was tapped in and pulled the Crusaders back within a score with 11 minutes left.

As soon as they felt the pressure again, the Wildcats responded in kind, this time with Holly Burgard stepping up, going one-on-one with McDevitt keeper Steph Quirk (3 saves), waiting until she committed and then slipping the ball past her to solidify their spot in Tuesday’s semifinals, where they will face Cumberland Valley at 5 p.m. at Hersheypark Stadium.

“This third game is the toughest to play,” Siodlowski said. “Mechanicsburg is a solid squad, one of the best in AAA, and when we all come together, I think we can hang with anyone.”

Girls Soccer: Wildcats defeat Berwick in PIAA Opening Round

Article by John Erzar, The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader/Photography courtsey of The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader

For the full article, click here.

LEHMAN TWP. – Berwick’s fourth trip to the PIAA Girls Spring Soccer tournament ended like the three previous – with a loss.The Dawgs, though, didn’t go as quietly as in the past on Wednesday.Twice, they tied Mechanicsburg. And even after Mechanicsburg took the lead for good early in the second half, the Dawgs pressed on.But the effort, as inspired as it was against the slick-passing Wildcats, still ended up in a 3-2 loss for Berwick and another quick exit from the state playoffs.Berwick ended its season at 12-4-1, winning its second consecutive District 2 title and the final district title in the spring as all girls soccer moves to the fall in a few months.“I felt we worked through some stuff, some injuries,” Berwick coach Paul DiPippa said. “We didn’t have Kelly (Sheptock) for the first six games, then Caty (Davenport) got hurt. It was the first time we scored in a state playoff game and we were right there, we were right there. I’m proud of the strides we made.”Natalie Zelenky, Mechanicsburg’s leading scorer, broke a 2-2 tie barely three minutes into the second half. The junior forward connected on a 25-yard liner that sent the D3 sixth seed Wildcats (17-6-1) to the quarterfinals on Saturday against D3 fourth seed Bishop McDevitt.

Berwick never quite found offensive continuity throughout the second half. Its final hope came with 1:16 remaining when Karleigh Hartman made a strong run down the right side only to be stopped well before the 18-yard line.

Even so, Berwick gained the respect of Mechanicsburg.

“Berwick certainly seems like a team that plays really, really hard and never gives up,” Mechanicsburg coach Tony Lougee said. “We knew that about them going in.”

Berwick could have. Like last year’s 4-0 loss to Manheim Township, Berwick was in a hole very early. Just 1:41 into the game, Meghan Ross popped in a rebound for a 1-0 Wildcat lead.

Davenport, though, stuck less than two minutes later to tie the score. Olivia Conklin sent a long pass to Davenport, who got around her defender in the penalty area.

But once again Zelenky came up big. She and Sheptock, considered by most coaches as the Wyoming Valley Conference’s best defender, were running stride-for-stride at the left post. Zelenky pulled up about 10 yards from the goal, giving her a split second to fire in another goal.

Sheptock got some revenge in the 30th minute, starting a scoring play with a long direct that resulted in a goal by Hartman and a 2-2 tie.

“I felt when we got the second goal and tied, we got a lot of confidence,” DiPippa said. “And we played with a lot of confidence. I felt we were the more physical team than them. But their passing on the ground just ate us up.”

PIAA Girls Soccer First Round

Mechanicsburg 3, Berwick 2

Mechanicsburg 2 1 3
Berwick 2 0 2

First half: 1. MEC, Meghan Ross (Holly Burgard), 2nd min; 2. BER, Caty Davenport (Olivia Conklin), 4th; 3. MEC, Natalie Zelenky, 18th; 4. BER, Karleigh Hartman (Abby Takacs), 30th; Second half: 5. MEC, Zelenky (Katelyn Bohn), 43rd.

Shots: MEC 26, BER 15; Saves: MEC 10 (Shelby Koch), BER 14 (Sarah Wilczynski); Corners: MEC 5, BER 1.


Article by Jill Snowdon, Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice

For the full article, click here.

LEHMAN TWP. – The opening round of the PIAA girls soccer tournament played out more like a game of tag for Berwick.

The Bulldogs found themselves playing catch-up two minutes into the game. They managed to match two of Mechanicsburg’s goals but couldn’t solve the Wildcats’ passing game in time for another come-from-behind goal and dropped a 3-2 decision on Wednesday at Lake-Lehman High School.

Berwick, which is coming off its second straight District 2 championship, ends the season at 12-4-1. Mechanicsburg (17-6-1) advances to play the winner of the Parkland/Bishop McDevitt game Saturday in the second round.

“It was them passing and us chasing,” Berwick coach Paul DiPippa said. “When we did get the ball we gave it right back to them.”

Meghan Ross gave the Wildcats an early lead as she knocked in a rebound on Holly Burgara’s long shot on goal from the left wing.

Berwick took advantage of the open space that Mechanicsburg allowed as its defensive backs were pushed forward. Bulldog junior Caty Davenport took a pass from Olivia Conklin and made good on their first trip down the field as she played the ball around a defender and scored on a shot to the left post.

Mechanicsburg took the lead once again on an unassisted goal by Natalie Zelenky. The junior forward worked the ball down the left wing and made a quick move that left a Berwick defender flatfooted. Her shot from a slight angle gave the Wildcats a 2-1 lead.

Berwick managed another tying goal 12 minutes later.

Kelly Sheptock set things in motion as she sent a direct kick from 40 yards out to a group of players in front of the goal. Abby Tackas got a piece of the ball and the deflection came back to Karleigh Hartman who followed up with the score.

“When we scored that second goal and tied it, we got a lot of confidence,” DiPippa said. “Both times we scored on the counterattack.”

Kelenky broke the 2-2 halftime tie in the second half as she finished off a pass from Katelyn Bohn with a high shot on goal from 25 yards out for the game-winner.

Mechanicsburg shut down Berwick’s scoring the rest of the way, but Berwick keeper Sarah Wilczynski did a nice job in goal in the second half.

The senior finished the game with 14 saves, including four key stops in the second half.

Sheptock also made a big defensive save to help her team stay within one goal of the Wildcats.

“(Mechanicsburg) plays the ball to the floor really well and we’re used to a more direct style,” DiPippa said. “We were right there, but we missed a couple of opportunities in the second half on counterattacks. I’m proud of the strides we made as a team. This is the first goal we’ve score in the state playoffs.”

First half: Meghan Ross (M) from Holly Burgara, 38:19; Caty Davenport (B) from Olivia Conklin, 36:29; Natalie Zelenky (M) un, 22:31; Karleigh Hartman (B) from Abby Takacs, 10:57; Second half: Zelenky (M) from Katelyn Bohn, 37:10.

Shots: Mech. 26, Ber 14; Corners: Mech. 5, Ber 1; Saves: Mech. 10 (Koch), Ber 14 (Wilczynski).

 

Girls Soccer: Wildcats fall in D3 Semis, Await PIAA Opponent

Article by Kurt Bopp, The Sentinel/Photography by Michael Bupp, The Sentinel

For the full article, click here.

For photographs of the game, click here.

HERSHEY — With a spot in the District 3 title game on the line, Red Land and Mechanicsburg needed penalty kicks to determine who’s going to the final.

No. 2 Red Land (18-2-1) scored all five chances and freshman goalie Rachel Fox made a save to secure a 5-4 win in penalty kicks Tuesday night at Hersheypark Stadium and send the Patriots to the title game against Cumberland Valley Friday at 7:30.

“Every player from both teams left it all on the field,” Red Land coach Jamie Miller said. “We knew it wasn’t gonna be the same (Mechanicsburg) team (from earlier this season). They’re a good team all the way around.”

The Wildcats (16-6-1) came out strong right off the bat as Meghan Ross scored on a rebound from a shot by Hannah Mallets less than two minutes into the game. Five minutes later, Ross raced through defenders and scored for a 2-0 lead at 7:27.

“Two mental mistakes early,” Miller said. “They capitalized on them, like good teams do.”

Mechanicsburg coach Tony Lougee said the Wildcats got some early breaks and Ross made the most of them, but the ‘Cats knew it was far from over.

Red Land took over as the Patriots battled hard to cut the deficit. Erin Keller scored at 26:13 to cut it to one.

With 1:15 remaining in the second, Red Land’s Kaylee Harner sent a perfect cross to Maddie Todd in front of the net, who chipped it in and over Mechanicsburg goalie Shelby Koch for the equalizer.

Each team traded chances but struggled to get shots on net throughout the second half. Red Land finished with 11 shots to the Wildcats’ nine.

With 10 minutes left, the Wildcats played a corner kick short. Mechanicsburg passed it to Holly Burgard, who dished it back to Ross. She turned and fired but it went just wide.

The Wildcats kept threatening but sent another shot over the net.

After a Patriot charge, the Wildcats nearly scored again as Burgard tried to fire a shot close, but the Patriot defense cleared it away.

In overtime, Red Land attacked early but couldn’t get off an shots.

The Wildcats got a free kick late from near the sideline but instide five yards of the box. Burgard took it and sent it to the pack, but nobody could head it into the net.

Red Land freshman Bryce Watts took it deep late in the first overtime and sent a cross to a teammate, but the Wildcat defense jumped in the way and cleared it to shut down the threat.

In penalty kicks, Julia Keebaugh, Brinley Watts, Kaylee Harner, Brittany Wentzel and Maisie Todd scored for the win. Todd nailed the game-winner in the fifth round, and it was Fox’s save that was the difference.

“We know Red Land is one of the best team’s going,” Lougee said. “We’ve been underdogs in all three matches we’ve played this week, so I’m very pleased.”

The Wildcats next play in the PIAA tournament next week. Red Land will take on CV for a rubber match. The Patriots won the first game in double overtime, and the Eagles won the second, 1-0.

“It’s going to be another battle with a great Mid-Penn team,” Miller said. “CV, Carlisle, Mechanicsburg, every game has been a battle.”


Article by David Bohr, The Patriot-News

For the full article, click here.

Red Land defeated Mechanicsburg 2-2 (5-4) in penalty kicks Tuesday night in the District 3-AAA girls’ soccer semifinals at Hersheypark Stadium.

The Patriots (18-2-1) will play Cumberland Valley in the finals on Friday.

Maisie Todd’s penalty kick, the fifth in five attempts by Red Land, was the clincher. Julia Keesbaugh, Brinley Watts, Kaylee Harner and Brittany Wentzel had the others.

Natalie Zelenky, Holly Burgard, Hannah Mallets and Ally Powell converted penalty kicks for Mechanicsburg. But Red Land’s freshman goalie, Rachel Fox, made a diving save to her left to stop Emma Mallets.

“She’s playing with more confidence,” Red Land head coach Jamie Miller said. “She knows it’s her job.”

Mechanicsburg jumped out to a 2-0 lead in less than seven minutes, only to see Red Land tie the game 2-2 by intermission.

Meghan Ross scored two quick goals for the Wildcats. She put in a rebound just 1:26 into the contest to make it 1-0. Then she caught up to a long pass that appeared to be meant for a teammate and beat Fox to make it 2-0 at 6:27 into the game.

“We just got some breaks and made the most of them,” Mechanicsburg head coach Tony Lougee said. “We connected really well in the middle.”

Red Land started to get momentum after that. A free kick by Watts from 29 yards out went off of the crossbar midway through the half, but Erin Keller and Maddi Todd found the back of the net later.

Keller got a touch in the box and flipped the ball over Mechanicsburg goalie Shelby Koch, who was running out of the goal mouth to catch the ball, to make the score 2-1 with 13:47 left in the half.

Todd received a floating pass from Kaylee Harner and put it into the top of the net to even it 2-2 with 1:15 to go before halftime.

The scoring opportunities were greatly reduced in the second half. Bryce Watts did make three runs at the goal for the Patriots, but one shot was saved, one sailed high, and the third was wiped out by an offsides call.

Red Land also had two corners in the last two minutes, but neither resulted in a shot.

Mechanicsburg had the best scoring chances in the each of the overtime periods. Ross drew a foul six yards from the end line, to the left of the box, with 6:15 on the clock of the first extra period. Holly Burgard took the free kick and put it into the box, b but the Patriot defenders prevented any shots from getting to the goal.

Natalie Zelenky was tripped dribbling into the box with 2:30 left in the second overtime. Burgard’s direct kick from 20 yards out sailed about a foot high of the crossbar.

Red Land had an 11-9 advantage in shots and a 5-2 advantage in corners.

Koch had seven saves while Fox had six.

Girls Soccer: Wildcats down Buckskins, move to District 3 Semifinals

Article by Jeffrey Kauffman, The Sentinel

For the full article, click here.

MANCHESTER — Don’t blame the Lancaster-Lebanon League teams if they don’t wish to see Mechanicsburg any time soon. Mechanicsburg punched its ticket to the PIAA state tournament with its second consecutive shutout of an L-L team with a 1-0 win over Conestoga Valley Saturday at Northeastern High School.

The Wildcats beat Hempfield, 1-0, on Wednesday night. The win moves the Wildcats to the District 3 Class AAA semifinals for the second consecutive year. They will play fellow Mid-Penn neighbor Red Land, a 2-0 winner over Carlisle Saturday. The game will be Tuesday at a site and time to be determined. Conestoga Valley will take on Carlisle in the consolation round on Tuesday. The winner qualifies for the state tournament — the losers’ season is over.

The Wildcats controlled the play in the first half but couldn’t change the scoreboard despite two breakaways. Lady Bucks keeper Jessica Plunkett was able to fend off both chances, although the one was over the top of the net.

Conestoga Valley (19-2-1) came out in the second half and started to put some pressure on the Wildcats defense. Wildcat keeper Shelby Koch came up with two big plays as she raced out to cover a loose ball before Michaela Horst could touch it past her.

Mechanicsburg (16-5-1) had two good chances later in the second half but Ally Powell’s rip was deflected by the Bucks defense and Holly Burgard’s blast was tipped over the crossbar by Plunkett.

Finally, on a ball over the top of the defense, Natalie Zelenky was able to run onto to it behind the Lady Bucks defense. She took two dribbles and touched a ball past Plunkett. The keeper got her fingers on the shot but it rolled past her and glanced in off the goal post. The Wildcats needed to run out the clock which seemed to be in slow motion but they were able to finally run out the clock and celebrate.

“I don’t ever want this season to end,” Koch said. “I will play all summer if I have to. This team is a family and we seem to find a way every night. We have played so many people in front of me on defense due to injuries and illness. It was certainly nice to have Emma Mallets back in there now with Karli Luker. We really didn’t know what to expect at the beginning of the year but with Holly and Natalie, we knew we could score goals. I am just trying my best to keep the ball out of the net and give us a chance.”

“We just beat two quality programs from the L-L League in Hempfield and Conestoga Valley and shut them out,” Wildcat coach Tony Lougee said. “This team has battled all year and I thought that we played very well on defense tonight. We faced pressure but we didn’t face difficult pressure. They had the one shot that hit the outside of the goalpost but it was from outside. We had several chances — especially Holly’s rip and Powell’s rip that was deflected. We will celebrate and enjoy tonight but start getting ready for Red Land.”

BOX SCORE

WILDCATS 1 LADY BUCKS 0

Mechanicsburg 0 1 — 1

Conestoga Valley 0 0 — 0

Second Half

M- Natalie Zelenky, 73:05

Corners: M 2; CoV 6

Shots: M 8; CoV 2

Saves: M (Shelby Koch 2); CoV (Jessica Plunkett 7)


Article by David Byrne, Lancaster Intelligencer Journal

For the full article, click here.

The scoring came early and often for Lancaster Mennonite.

For Conestoga Valley, scoring opportunities, much less scoring, were rare enough to be considered an endangered species.

It was a split decision for the Lancaster-Lebanon League, Saturday night at Northeastern High School as Lancaster Mennonite advanced to the semifinals of the District Three Class AA girls soccer playoffs, thumping Harrisburg Christian, 4-0.

In the nightcap of a quarterfinal doubleheader at Bobcat Stadium, Natalie Zelenky’s late breakaway broke a scoreless match and Mechanicsburg defeated Conestoga Valley 1-0 to advance to the Class AAA semis.

CV (19-2-1) remains in the hunt for a berth in the PIAA spring championships and will face Carlisle in a AAA consolation match on Tuesday — site and time to be determined.

Lancaster Mennonite advances to Tuesday’s AA semis, where the Blazers will face Bishop McDevitt, a 5-1 victor over Donegal.

The site and time for that match will be announced today.

It was the second victory over an L-L opponent in four days for the Wildcats — who bested Hempfield in two overtimes, 1-0 on Wednesday — prompting coach Tony Lougee to tell his girls, “That’s a good week.”

In a wild up-and-down contest between two offensive-minded sides, the defenses ultimately had the say.

“They had a lot of pace,” Lougee said of CV, “and we knew they were going to play their guts out. We tried to match them, and I thought it was a good game.”

Mechanicsburg (16-5-1), the Mid-Penn Keystone champions and overall league runnerup to Cumberland Valley, spent most of the first half springing Zelenky, Holly Burgard, Ally Powell and Hannah Mallets on the attack down the left side.

Only to be denied by the Buckskins’ core of Casey Shirk, Natalie Waltz, Casey Shirk and Rebekah Krasinski.

The L-L League champion Buckskins, in turn, had trouble getting the offense running in the first half, but missed a golden opportunity late in the half.

On a muffed defensive clear by the ‘Cats, Michaela Horst came into possession of the ball in the box, couldn’t control it, and the ball, like the chance, slipped away.

Eight minutes into the second half, Horst hit the left post and her follow up was deflected by keeper Shelby Koch for a corner kick.

Off the corner, Morgan Higgins hit the football upright, then sailed a shot over the crossbar.

The series was CV’s best chance in the half as Mechanicsburg’s backline denied penetration and second touches in the box.

“Our [defensive] backs are young, and they’re learning under pressure against the best,” Lougee said. “They stepped up tonight and did a great job.”

Overtime seemed in the cards as the two sides raced to the end of regulation, but Zelenky had other ideas as she took a through ball, challenged a CV defender at the 25 and forged ahead.

“The through ball was there all day,” said Zelenky, who was sketchy on the details of how the ball got to her. “I was lucky when I got in.”

She pulled the trigger from about the top of the 12, curling the ball slightly to CV keeper Jess Plunkett’s right.

Plunkett got a hand — maybe both hands — on it, but it had enough spin to deflect toward the far post, off the post and into the net at 73:05.

CV made one last push to get back into the game in the 76th minute, as Kendra Blantz tested Koch with 4:06 to play. Koch was equal to the task.

Lancaster Mennonite 4, Harrisburg Christian 0: Playing under an unforgiving 80-degree sun in the opener, both teams looked sluggish. But Lancaster Mennonite was clearly the better team, a fact that became apparent from the jump.

The Blazers (15-2-3) scored twice in a space of 2:16 in the first half to remove any mystery.

Off Kaitlin Sauder’s corner kick, Eileen Barker slid a short cross to Abby Basom, who pounded it home with 9:59 gone.

“We were ready from the get-go,” said Natalie Hoober, who, two minutes and change later, stuck her right leg up and redirected a looping volley from Lydia Peachey for the second goal.

“I had my eye on the ball as it came down, and I just I struck it,” Hoober said.

It was a busy evening for Hoober, who had eight scoring chances — six shots on goal — in the first half and assisted on Tricia Tshudy’s goal in the 40th minute.

“That was a typical half for me,” said Hoober, who allowed that she wasn’t accustomed to the amount of room she had in the attacking third. “There was more opportunity to shoot, so I took the opportunity.”

Rylee Gardinier closed the scoring in the 69th minute, taking a short pass from Basom and beating keeper Kelsey Caylor on a long roller.

Girls Soccer: Wildcats fall in Championship Tilt

Article by Jeffrey Kauffman, The Sentinel/Photographs by Michael Bupp, The Sentinel

For the full article, click here.

For photographs of the game, click here.

Cumberland Valley won its second consecutive Mid-Penn girls soccer championship with a 4-0 shutout of neighboring Mechanicsburg at the Northside Soccer Pitch Thursday night.

Cumberland Valley (18-2) applied pressure right from the start to put the Wildcats on their heels from which they really never recovered.

Freshman Taylor Sneidman and senior Savannah Hall each had a shot inside the first three minutes that forced Wildcat keeper Shelby Koch to make saves.

Elise Krause sent in a cross that Hall flicked over her head to Tara Shipe, whose blast was deflected by Koch and out of play.

“This was important for us as seniors,“ Krause said. “We have dealt with so many injuries and we have had kids step up every night for us. Our defense has been solid all year, and we just had to find ourselves as a team. We had many players return from last year, but most of us were playing in different positions so it took a while for us to find ourselves. We couldn’t have picked a better game to come together. I played back as a freshman and a sophomore so it wasn’t a big deal when coach asked me to play back there. Mechanicsburg is a very good team so we needed to play well.”

Koch kept the game close as she made two huge saves, one of them on Amy Elgin and the other a diving snag of a Sneidman cross that was ticketed for Shipe’s right foot.

Savannah Hall had a huge rip toward the far corner on which Koch made the save, but shortly after freshman Jen Falconer gathered a through ball from Hall and ripped a shot past Koch for the eventual game-winner just 20 minutes in.

“There are only two (seniors) of us left on the field,” Hall said. “ Dani (Shambaugh) hasn’t seen a lot of shots back there but when she has been phenomenal at reading the shots and directing traffic. She sees the entire field well and is constantly talking to the defense about what she is seeing. This team is different as we have different players back there, but they have done well together no matter who is back there. We hope to get a couple of players back from injury this week while we have some time off.”

Ten minutes later the Wildcats deficit doubled as a Wildcat defender went to clear an Eagle pass out and the ball deflected into her own net for an own goal.

Lilly Shover added a long ball that sailed over the keeper’s hands and into the net for the third goal just 21 seconds prior to halftime.

Mechanicsburg earned a corner kick early in the second half, but the cross was cleared out by Emily Hoke. On a restart, Hall sent a ball toward the far post. The ball had Koch beat but bounced right off the goal post and caromed away.

Mechanicsburg had a couple of chances in the second half as sophomore Meghan Ross, junior Natalie Zelenky and junior Hannah Malletts worked well together to get the ball into the offensive attack. Ross and Zelenky were able to put a couple of shots on Eagle keeper Shambaugh, but they could not solve the Eagle defense.

CV freshman Delaney Liu scored the final goal as she finished off a Rachel Kovach dish for the 4-0 final.

“Our defense starts with Dani Shambaugh and Rachel Kovach,” Eagle coach Seth Lehman said. “Dani has stepped up so well to control the defense and Rachel just runs the rest of the field. They both lead by example and by word because most of the time we have several freshmen or sophomores who didn’t play a lot last year. Rachel is really the only returning starter back there so she needs to lead by example and communicate with her teammates back there.”

“Cumberland Valley is well-coached and they have quality athletes at every position,” Wildcat skipper Tony Lougee said. “They put pressure on us from the start and we didn’t handle it real well early. When they put that kind of pressure on you, you need to play the ball out of the back or over the top and we just weren’t able to do that tonight. It was nice to get Emma Malletts back tonight, but then lost Holly Burgard for the second half. Meghan Ross is starting to play the way she did early in the year. Injuries aren’t an excuse, but they affect your consistency in play and that has hurt us all year.”

Both teams now prepare for the upcoming District 3-AAA tournament. Mechanicsburg (14-5-1) travels to Hempfield for a 4 p.m. start on Wednesday, and the top-seeded Eagles will play at Eagle View Stadium at 7 p.m. against the winner of Wilson and Lower Dauphin.


Article by David Rung, The Patriot-News/Photographs by John C. Whitehead, The Patriot-News

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For photographs of the game, click here.

Most Cumberland Valley girls’ soccer players are used to the feeling of a gold medal around their necks.

But even though they have three of them to show for last year’s postseason haul, being awarded for their second straight Mid-Penn championship after a 4-0 victory over Mechanicsburg Thursday night at Northside Elementary led to a familiar display of emotions.

There were hugs, cheers and more celebrations that showed no two titles are the same.

“The feeling is still the same, but every championship is great to win,” said CV’s Rachel Kovach. “It’s no different this year. We have a lot of new players this year, so it was important for us to have the right mindset. We call it a championship mindset, and that’s how we came out tonight.”

The Eagles brought pressure from the opening whistle against the still-healing Wildcats, with Savannah Hall finding Jen Falconer with a nifty through ball to open the scoring 20 minutes in.

A mishit on an attempted clear by Mechanicsburg resulted in an own goal that put CV up 2-0 10 minutes later, and Lilly Shover would grab a 3-0 lead for the Eagles with her rip from the top corner of the box in the final minute of the opening half.

“I thought we didn’t handle that pressure well, and it’s not one person’s fault.” Mechanicsburg coach Tony Lougee said. They put you under [pressure] like that, you have to do something, either get it out or counter and put it over the top to make them think twice, but we couldn’t do either in the first 20 minutes.”

Delaney Liu would score the game’s final goal midway through the second half off a feed from Kovach, giving CV freshmen the last five Eagle goals.

The CV defense was also on again, collecting their 14th shutout of the season and 12th straight postseason shutout dating back to last year by holding the Wildcats to four shots on goal.

It was an entirely different offensive performance than Tuesday’s semifinal victory over Trinity, as the Eagles dominated possession and kept the pressure on, showcasing just how dangerous they can be as the No. 1 seed in the upcoming District 3-AAA playoffs.

“I think the sky’s the limit,” CV coach Seth Lehman said. “There’s no limit to how good this team can be, but we have to be sure we come out with the same expectations and mindset every game. If we approach every game like we did tonight, we’ll be tough to beat.”

Girls Soccer: Wildcats advance to Mid-Penn Championship behind 3 goals from Zelenky

Article by Jeffrey Kauffman, The Sentinel

For the full article, click here.

Mechanicsburg earned its first trip to the Mid-Penn championship by edging Northern 3-2 in double overtime at John H. Frederick Field in Mechanicsburg Tuesday night.

The game was scheduled for the Northside Soccer Pitch, but heavy rains forced the game to the turf field at the park. Thursday night’s championship is scheduled for Northside on Thursday at 7 p.m., and the Wildcats will face Cumberland Valley, a 2-0 winner over Trinity.

Natalie Zelenky tallied all three goals for Mechanicsburg, including the game-winner with 7:48 left in the second overtime.

“This was a good game for us,” Zelenky said. “We get to play in the first Mid-Penn championship game as a team. We played better tonight than we did yesterday against Carlisle.“

The two teams played several weeks ago in the championship game of the Mechanicsburg Booster Club Tournament, with the Wildcats winning the game 4-1. Missing for the Polar Bears that day were top players Lauren Berry and Olivia Snare as well as goalkeeper Sarah Yunez, who were all injured.

This game was a bit different as all three played and were solid contributors to the Polar Bear cause.

“We really hoped we would get another chance at this team, especially after that Saturday,” Polar Bear coach Mindy Smith said. “ We really felt we could play with them if we had all of our parts. This was a great game between two good teams, and losing this way hurts. We gave (Zelenky) some space and you can’t give her space. She will make you pay and she did that.”

The first 15 minutes went back and forth with no dangerous scoring chances.

An innocent cross by Northern’s Shea Regan from the left wing bounded through the crease, but a Wildcat defender went to kick the ball and kicked it right into her own net. Brooke Sheibley was credited with the goal.

Mechanicsburg (14-4-1, 10-1-1 Keystone) started to add the pressure to the Bear defense. They earned two straight corner kicks but didn’t score. On the ensuing run back in on offense, Holly Burgard beat the defense and slid a ball across the crease. Zelenky one-timed the ball past Bear keeper Yunez for the score to tie the game.

Just minutes before halftime, a long ball came over the top and Lauren Berry beat Wildcat keeper Shelby Koch to the far corner for a 2-1 Bear lead.

The Burgard-Zelenky combination worked again early in the second half as Burgard slotted a ball through and Zelenky blasted the ball past Yunez to tie the contest at two.

At the 18-minute mark, Mechanicsburg had several opportunities to take the lead. Ally Powell sent in a corner kick, and Zelenky ripped a shot that hit Polar Bear Emma Gingrich on the right post. The ball deflected across and Burgard’s rip through traffic was somehow spotted and grabbed by Yunez for a fabulous save.

Zelenky had a key chance later in regulation, but her rip caromed off the goalpost.

Berry had a good chance in the first overtime as her rip was bobbled by Koch, but no one was there to follow up the shot and rebound.

Nicole Coons gave the Wildcats a chance, but her looper to Meghan Ross in the box was somehow gobbled up by Yunez.

In the second overtime, it was all Wildcats. Powell ripped a shot from about 25 that Yunez bobbled, but no one followed the shot. Zelenky had a rip from about 15 that bounded off the chest of Yunez, but again no one was there to tap home the rebound.

A minute later, Zelenky’s finish didn’t need any rebound to finish the contest. Hannah Mallets sent in a cross from the left wing, and Zelenky found the space, and her low shot beat Yunez to end the game.

“I have never scored a more important goal in high school,” said Zelenky, coming from a girl who is nearing 90 career goals with another season to play.

“I thought we played well in spurts,” Wildcat coach Tony Lougee said. “I thought the game would go in swings of momentum and we played well early and not so much in the second half. They played better in the first overtime, and we did what we had to do in the second overtime. Both teams played well on defense. Natalie is a special player and we also had several players step up to help with injuries and just to give people a breather. Meghan Ross used her speed and played well on the wing.”

Northern (15-4, 11-1 Colonial) will begin preparations for the upcoming District 3-AAA soccer tournament. Preliminary rounds start Monday at the site of the higher seed for teams seeded 13 through 20. First round games begin Wednesday at the site of the higher seeded team. Brackets should be released Thursday.

Girls Soccer: Wildcats fall to Thundering Herd in regular season finale

Article by Jeffrey Kauffman, The Sentinel/Photography by Jason Malmont, The Sentinel

For the full article, click here.

For photographs of the game, click here.

With only a couple of days until the power ratings deadline to get games in, Carlisle and Mechanicsburg took to the field to squeeze their contest in and the Herd used two second-half finishes to shut out the Wildcats 2-0 at the Northside Soccer Pitch Monday afternoon.

The contest featured two teams – who are both solidly in the field for the upcoming District 3-AAA tournament – that are battling for power ratings points and position. Mechanicsburg has already clinched the Keystone Division championship and will open the Mid-Penn Tournament Tuesday at Northside against Northern at 7 p.m. Carlisle still has to finish their senior night game on Tuesday against Chambersburg – a game in which they hold a 2-1 lead with about 12 minutes left in the game. Both will open playoffs next week.

The first half found two teams trying to find that weak spot in each other’s defense, but neither team could find it. They both played well eighteen to eighteen, but Carlisle was the only one that was dangerous. They had a couple of crosses into the box that Wildcat defenders – Amanda Crecelius and Hannah Jones – headed out of danger.

Wildcat keeper Shelby Koch had to field a couple of crosses that came near the net early in the second half.

A Wildcat defender was called for a handball in the penalty box and the Herd set up for the penalty kick. Maddie Breschi drilled her shot to the lower right corner to beat Koch for what would be the game-winner.

Moments later, Michaela Coplen beat her defender to the left baseline and she somehow got a cross off that curled toward the back post. It just missed the far post from a bad angle.

The Herd did double their lead just about six minutes later, as Mariah Varner sent in a corner kick. It bounded off the crossbar and bounced directly to senior Becky Hoy, who deposited the ball in the back of the net.

Mechanicsburg had a great chance to halve the lead, but a cross went through the crease with no one there to put it home.

The Herd defense, which has been under fire for losing a couple of late leads in the past couple of weeks, came through with flying colors in this contest. Jolyne Stoup, Caroline Bixby and the two center backs – Mary Yuengert and Amelia McConnell – got a good effort also from Varner and Nikita Price back checking to slow down the Wildcat attack of Holly Burgard and Natalie Zelenky. They challenged both and gave them very little room to turn and look for support. McConnell especially was a thorn in the side of Zelenky and McConnell spent the first part of the season playing offense. Her move backward has been a boost for the Herd defense.

“I thought our midfield and our defense played very well today,” said Herd coach Greg Clippinger. “We want to keep this game in perspective as they could have been looking forward to tomorrow night. I was pleased with our effort today. It was a good win for us.”

“I think it was big lift for us and for our confidence,” said Breschi. “It was good for our defense and we really wanted the shutout for their confidence. Amelia has been a big lift for us and then Jolyne, Caroline, and Mary has been back there to just clean up everything. This was a big win for us going into districts.”

Kirstyn Sokolsky and Michaela Coplen have given us a big lift with their speed and being able to get around the corners,” said Hoy. “With their ability to beat people, it creates opportunities for the rest of us. Their hustle all over the field rubs off because of the effort they give. The freshmen have been a big key for us this year. Stoup, Varner, Sokolsky, and goalkeeper Jessica Kuhn have been a big part of our success this year.”

“We haven’t played for awhile and we are starting to get some players back from injuries,” said Wildcat coach Tony Lougee. “I was pleased with our effort at some points but we had a hard time dealing with their speed. The goals were what they were. On one, we stood around and watched while the ball bounced off the crossbar and their player move to where she could attack the ball. They attacked the ball better that we did all day all over the field.”

According to the latest power ratings of Sunday, Carlisle is currently 13th at 10-4-2. With the victory over Mechanicsburg and if they hold on against Chambersburg, the Herd should move above the 13th spot – which would host a play-in round game next Monday. The top 12 will host a first round game next Wednesday. Mechanicsburg is 13-3-1 and in the eighth spot. The loss will drop them to 13-4-1 and, according to coach Lougee, hopefully out of the 8-9 game, to avoid playing top-seeded Cumberland Valley in the next round with a win.

2012 – 2013 Athletic Physical Information