Hannah Adair thrives in stepping up during big-time games.
The junior was arguably one of the linchpins for the Manheim Central girls soccer team’s ride to the Class 3A title in District Three last season.
But without her, the Barons are vulnerable. And Elizabethtown took advantage on Wednesday night in a battle for first place in Section Two of the Lancaster-Lebaon League, coming all the way back from an early deficit to win 3-2 in double OT.
“There’s character on this team, and they’re just starting to realize it,” first-year Bears head coach Mark Brown said. “We’re seeing these girls come together now. It’s fantastic.”
Playing in their third game in as many days, Elizabethtown came out firing, with sophomore Jena Witters drawing a foul just 33 seconds into the contest. But a huge save from senior keeper Shauna Lukus prevented the early setback for the Barons.
The Bears kept the pressure on for the rest of the first half, besting MC in shots on goal (8 to 6) and corners (7 to 3). However, timely saves from Lukus and a bit of bad luck (two shots went off the crossbar in the high winds) resulted in no goals.
“We were kicking ourselves for some of those missed opportunities,” Brown said. “We reinforced some things at halftime and got our mental game right.”
Meanwhile, Adair struck quickly and brutally. She got the scoring going with just over 26 minutes left in the first on a perfectly-placed shot in the lower right corner.
Off an Elizabethtown corner with just under three minutes to go before the break, she charged down the left sideline and found sophomore Abbie Reed wide open in the front of the net to put the Barons up 2-0.
In the second half, though, Elizabethtown began putting things together. Senior Jackie Bruno found Witters for a goal nine minutes in to cut it to 2-1. She then gathered a corner kick from senior Olivia Anson with 17 minutes left and pinballed a shot off multiple Central defenders to tie the game. The score held through the end of regulation.
In between goals, Adair went down with an injury, getting helped off the field by trainers. The Barons had some chances down the stretch but couldn’t put much together otherwise in her absence.
Witters had a shot go off the crossbar early in the first OT, and a breakaway from sophomore Lily Heistand was saved by a sliding Lukus, who also stopped another breakaway from Bruno in the second OT.
But Elizabethtown executed perfectly on the gamewinner, with Anson placing a corner kick in the right spot for sophomore Abby Sedun to head it through for the golden goal with just over three minutes before a potential tie.
“We practice that stuff,” Brown said. “It’s great to see that setup work for us when we needed it.”
For now, Elizabethtown is the team to beat in Section Two. There are no guarantees, though. The Bears lost to Ephrata on Monday in a tightly contested game, so anything can happen. But they’ll get to celebrate this one.
“We’re going one game at a time,” Brown said. “(The Ephrata game) was a big disappointment because we made mistakes, and it cost us. We’re moving forward with a game (at McCaskey) on Friday and the weekend off before another game on Monday.”