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Penn Manor Wins Girls’ State Soccer Title

Hershey, PA – Printed across the shoulder blades of their warmup shirts was the word “BELIEVE.” Friday night, the Penn Manor girls’ soccer team made believers of us all. A championship defensive effort and Kasie Shover’s finish of a head ball from Katie Shiffler delivered the PIAA girls’ soccer title to the Comets with a 1-0 victory over previously unbeaten Emmaus in Hersheypark Stadium. It is the Penn Manor girls’ second state title overall and first outright. The Comets shared 2002 title with Council Rock when 30 minutes of overtime could not break a 1-1 tie. It was the perfect end to a season of championship disappointments for the Comets (22-6-1), who finished second to Hempfield in the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 1 race, fell to Hempfield again in the league championship and were defeated by Central Dauphin in the District 3 title game. But Penn Manor never stopped trying. “This is so storybook,” said Shover, who started as a freshman on the 2002 team. “We started out not so good, losing all those titles, but we finally won the biggest one.” And Shover provided all the offense Penn Manor needed. Just two minutes after Emmaus’ Amanda Lucik hit the right post off a crossing pass from sophomore midfielder Bernadette DaCosta, Penn Manor was awarded a corner kick. Kristen Armstrong stood over the ball from the right flag and sent a long arcing serve to the far side of the goal. Just as the ball was about to go out of bounds, junior Shiffler got her head on it. “It was either going to go out or hit my face,” she said. “So I just let it hit my face.” “I thought she was going to head it in,” said Shover, who was camped nine yards away. “I called for the ball, took it on a bounce and left-footed it to the far post.” “I didn’t think it was real,” Shiffler continued. “I was still dizzy. I saw it (the ball go in) and I was like, “˜Ohmygosh, did this just happen?'” Emmaus must have had a similar reaction. With 12:38 gone in the game, the Green Hornets found themselves trailing for just the second time all season. The pregame hype painted Emmaus (26-1) as an unbeatable colossus, which will happen when you score 120 goals as a team and have two player combine for more than 70 goals. While Penn Manor’s march through States was impressive, it was the Hornets who got all the buzz. “The Allentown newspaper guy told me he gave us no chance against Council Rock,” Zapata said. “And in his (championship preview) he said this wouldn’t even be a game. “Nobody would have predicted this.” Senior forward Jen Dervarics scored 40 goals with 20 assists. Sophomore forward Sarah Oswald had 30 goals and 19 helpers, and DaCosta had 16 and 25. But Oswald was lost for the season after suffering a knee injury in the Hornets’ quarterfinal win over Manheim Township last Friday. And the Comets’ defense took Dervarics out of the game, figuratively and literally. Which neutered DaCosta’s ability to be a playmaker. As they went, so went the Hornet offense. The team that scored 120 goals in 26 games had just two shots on goal in the most important game of the year. Yet Emmaus coach Dave Domchek said Penn Manor’s was not the best defense his team had seen this year when asked about it after the game. He said Lehigh Valley neighbor Parkland, which allowed six goals in three meetings with Emmaus, had a better defense than the Comets. Sour grapes, anyone? When pressed, Domchek admitted the Comets “seemed to have numbers all over the field. They were very good at getting up and back. “They swarmed well,” he continued. “When we had the ball on our foot there were always two or three people there to challenge and take the ball away.” Taking away many balls was Caitlin Higgins, who stayed on Dervarics like a spandex garment. Dervarics had no shots on goal and left the field for 11 minutes of the second half after a particularly effective slide tackle by Higgins that aggravated a season-long ankle injury. She returned for a six-minute stretch late in the second half, but left the field for good soon after. Dervarics was one of several players banged up in a physical game that gradually devolved as an increasingly frustrated Emmaus tried to conjure up the tying goal. Shortly after Dervarics left for good, Higgins, freed to take her usual midfield position, was shaken up and left for three minutes. Even Shover was limping in the late stages of the game. But no one matched the grit displayed by Penn Manor’s Sara Scheid. The sophomore forward suffered a deep contusion on her right leg in a collision just before the half. When the teams came out for the second half, Scheid was clearly hobbled. She was tearfully carried back to the locker room moments later, when a thunderstorm chased the players from their warmup session. The ensuing delay lasted two hours, 17 minutes as the storm worked its way through Hershey. The extended intermission was a silver lining for Scheid, because it gave her a chance to ice down and stretch out her damaged muscle. When the second half began “” at 10:12 p.m. “” she was able to play most of the half. During the delay there was a persistant debate. Since a full half had been played, the game was considered a “complete” game. Would the second half fall victim to the weather? Would the Comets walk out with the trophy after only 40 minutes? “We didn’t want to win with just one half,” said Scheid. “We wanted to win 80 minutes.” They got their wish. And eventually, they got their trophy.

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