L-L GIRLS' SOCCER: Playoff focus begins with CV - LancasterOnline: Sports

L-L GIRLS' SOCCER: Playoff focus begins with CV

Bucks were only unbeaten team during the league season, but several other contenders also will carry momentum into Tuesday’s quarterfinals

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Posted: Sunday, May 6, 2012 11:20 pm | Updated: 7:13 pm, Thu Sep 12, 2013.

In a preseason coaches' poll, Conestoga Valley was the overwhelming pick as the favorite to win this spring's Lancaster-Lebanon League girls' soccer title.

Chances are, with 320 regular-season games in the books, that probably hasn't changed a whole lot.

Fresh off capturing its third Section Two title in the last four years, Conestoga Valley will lead eight teams into the L-L playoffs, which begin with a pair of quarterfinal doubleheaders Tuesday night.

The Buckskins (16-1-1) will take on Section Three runner-up Donegal (11-4) at 5 p.m. at Warwick, before Section Four champion Lancaster Mennonite (12-1-3) squares off against Section One runner-up Cedar Crest (10-7-1) at 7.

At Penn Manor's Comet Field Tuesday, Section Three champion Cocalico (14-1-1) will meet Section Two runner-up Warwick (9-8-1) at 5, before Section One champ Hempfield (13-2-1) takes on Section Four runner-up Elco (10-6) at 7.

The semifinals are set for 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday at Manheim Central, which will also host the final Saturday.

Saturday's title game is tentatively scheduled to be played at 7 p.m., but should one of the finalists have their prom Saturday night, the game will be moved to 11 a.m.

Safe to say, few would be shocked to see CV in that final, aside from the fact that the Buckskins - who won their only L-L crown in 2007 - have reached the league title game three of the last five years.

Fact is, CV's last loss to an L-L team was May 12 of last year, when it dropped a 2-0 decision to eventual champion Penn Manor in the L-L semifinals.

This spring, the Buckskins were the only team to get through the L-L season unbeaten - with a 15-0 mark that included a perfect 5-0 record in crossover games against traditionally powerful Section One.

For what it's worth, CV's only loss this season was a 1-0 nonleague decision to defending PIAA Spring champion Cumberland Valley, a team that drubbed the Buckskins 5-0 in the first round of the District Three Class AAA playoffs a year ago.

"They're very defensive," Hempfield coach Keith Nagley said of CV, which beat the Black Knights 1-0 on March 28. "It was pretty early (in the season) but they seemed to be more concerned with stopping us from scoring than scoring themselves.

"They seemed to be more of a counter-attack team than a team that came after you."

Either way, CV's effectiveness can be found in the numbers.

The 54 league goals the Bucks scored this spring were second only to Mennonite (57), while their eight goals against are tied for third in the L-L with Cocalico. Only Hempfield (six) and Mennonite (six) allowed fewer goals during the regular season.

Then again, speaking of Hempfield, it would be a gigantic mistake to overlook the Black Knights, who have the winningest history of any team in these playoffs and are entering this year's tournament with a ton of momentum.

Since correcting some early-season scoring woes, which left it 1-2-1 through its first four games, Hempfield has won 13 straight, including nonleague victories over perennial powers Central Dauphin and Easton.

Furthermore, lest we forget, the Knights' 10 L-L title game appearances and seven L-L crowns are both league records. Hempfield won the last of its titles in 2010.

"I feel confident with the way we're playing right now," Nagley said.

Some other teams might say the same.

Cocalico, for example, is riding high after capturing its first section soccer title in school history (boys or girls) last week.

And Mennonite is unbeaten in its last nine games, including the 1-1 double-overtime tie it earned against CV April 21.

In short, stay tuned.

jfulginiti@lnpnews.com

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