SILVER SPRING TWP. — Going into the District 3 Class 3A quarterfinal game, Cumberland Valley was more than rested after earning a first round bye.
However, the No. 4 Eagles (16-3) had to remain on their toes at Bobby Rahal Toyota Field on Wednesday against the No. 5 Hempfield Black Knights (15-4). Especially knowing how lethal they can be on offense.
“They have, in my opinion, one of the best offenses in the district,” CV head coach Matt Healey said. “They’ve got a lot of talent, they move the ball very well and we knew our defense was going to have their hands full.”
And have their hands full they did.
The Black Knights made CV earn the 16-12 win to move into Monday’s semifinals. The Eagles got on the board first with a goal from Mitch Schalles, but Matthew Houston wasted no time in tying it up 1-1 early in the first quarter.
Both teams exchanged goals to a 3-3 tie with 2:11 remaining in the opening frame before CV found its footing. Schalles got a string of five goals started for the Eagles, including a hat trick for Clayton Miller, to make it 8-3 with 6:30 remaining in the second quarter.
With Miller earning his fourth goal of the night, the Eagles led comfortably at 14-6. That comfort, however, may have been a bad thing.
Five goals from the Black Knights shocked the sidelines and the crowd as the Eagles’ lead was whittled down to three, 14-11.
“We knew they were going to get their goals, there’s no stopping that,” said Miller, who sits at 98 points for the season. “We just tried to slow them down on offense.”
“We had a really good cushion lead and I think we got a little bit too comfortable with our lead against a high-powered offense,” Healey said. “We broke down in the middle of the field and we were chasing the ball, we were chasing ground balls and giving them their fast breaks. That’s what they do incredibly well and they capitalized on it — I think most of their goals were in transition and those are the times we fell apart.”
After a timeout to get everything back under control, the Eagles once again played the kind of lacrosse they wanted to. Jared Plessinger notched his hat trick and Jarod Howe added another goal as the Eagles shut down Hempfield’s offense to secure the win.
CV moves into the semifinal round to play No. 9 Penn Manor, which upset No. 1 Central York 9-8, handing the Panthers their first loss of the season. For right now, there’s no sure strategy going into the next round, but the Eagles are just excited to move on.
“We’re pretty excited for [Penn Manor], they’re a pretty good matchup,” Miller said. “I think we’ll game plan for them and we’ll be ready.”
The semifinal round begins on Monday at a site and time to be determined. A win secures a spot in the PIAA playoffs, whereas a loss means a third-place game for the last qualifying spot out of District 3.