LOWER PAXTON TWP. — Cumberland Valley was flying high coming into the Mid-Penn Championship game against Hershey at George Ebersole Stadium on Thursday evening.
Fresh off a 13-7 win over State College to claim the Mid-Penn Commonwealth division title, the Eagles looked strong to start in the conference championship. But nerves played a role in the second half of a 12-9 win for the Cumberland Valley Eagles.
The first half was a strong showing for CV with Amanda Willigerod, Emma Eberly and Caroline Fehl notching a few quick ones.
The Eagles took a solid 8-4 lead into halftime, but that strong start soon began to whittle. The Trojans never truly let the game get out of hand and began to claw their way back into the action — something the Eagles knew they were more than capable of.
“We knew we had beat (Hershey) earlier in the season,” senior midfield Eberly said. “I think we knew that they had a fight still in them and we knew they could come back. We definitely knew it could be a close game and that it could go either way.”
Glynnis Carter extended CV’s lead to 12-6 midway through the second half before Hershey started the charge. Madeline Zimmer and Taylor Yahn went back-to-back to get within four, 12-8. Ally Cronin notched another to make it 12-9 and put the Eagles on their toes.
Draw control cost CV during the stretch, allowing Hershey to make its push.
“The draw was a huge one,” CV head coach Lilli Kane. “We lost the draw a few times in a row and then on defense we weren’t really talking and seeing the ball. We just needed to talk more — our defense just requires a lot of communicating.”
The defense began to come together after Cronin’s goal. It came down to goaltender Sophia Thomas. She stayed solid in net and made some key saves to keep the Trojans at arm’s length.
“She saves us in so many ways,” Kane said. “I think the game would have been so much different if she didn’t play the way she did.”
With one championship under their belts for now, the Eagles move into the District 3 Class 3A playoffs more confident.
“We have a bye game and then being (the fourth seed) in the district is a huge confidence boost for them,” Kane said. “I don’t think they expected it to end that way.”
“I think we improved every game throughout the season and I think this is just another step,” Eberly said. “We’ve been working really hard in practice and I think today we showed that we put everything together along with our last game at State College. We are starting to show everyone what we can do as a team.
“At districts I think we’re gonna come out hard and we’re gonna fight.”
Cumberland Valley await the winner of Monday’s district opener between No. 5 Governor Mifflin or No. 12 Dallastown. CV’s quarterfinal will begin at 7 at home.