Manheim Twp. vs. Penn Manor - L-L League field hockey championships

Manheim Twp.’s Brenna Campagna (22) takes a shot against Penn Manor during second half action of the L-L League field hockey championships at Conestoga Valley High School Thursday Oct. 20, 2022.

For the second straight year, the Lancaster-Lebanon League did not have any teams reach the District Three field hockey finals.

Nevertheless, the league overall seems to be trending upward, as three teams will participate in the PIAA tournament, which opens Tuesday.

Last season, just one L-L team, Lancaster Mennonite in Class 1A, qualified for the state tournament. But representing the L-L in round-of-16 games this week will be Penn Manor and Manheim Township in Class 3A and Manheim Central in Class 2A. The official PIAA brackets, with opponents, sites and times will be released later this weekend.

Two other teams — Warwick in 3A and Annville-Cleona in 1A — came up one game short of the state tournament, attesting to the balance in the league.

Of those teams, Penn Manor and Manheim Township came closest to breaking through to the district finals.

The Comets, who beat the Blue Streaks in this year's L-L final, had a first-round bye in districts and took down Cumberland Valley 3-0 in the quarterfinals before a 2-1 double overtime loss to Lower Dauphin in the semifinals.

The Streaks handed Governor Mifflin a 7-0 loss in the first round and knocked off State College 3-2 in the quarters before falling to top-seeded Wilson 5-2 in the semifinal round.

Then, on Saturday, playing for district bronze and seeding in the state tourney, the Streaks handed the Comets a 2-0 loss, as Nia Mountis scored twice, both times on feeds from Brenna Campagna.

For her part, Penn Manor head coach Rachel Suter hopes her players enter this week more concerned about what can still be than what might have been.

“I just want them to focus on what’s ahead and leave behind what’s behind,” Suter said after the loss to the Falcons.

While the L-L has its share of representatives in the state tournament, there is still a sense of being overshadowed by some of the other District Three leagues. Four of the six district finalists were from the Mid-Penn: Lower Dauphin in 3A, Palmyra and Hershey in 2A and Boiling Springs in 1A. From those four finalists came three champions, as Lower Dauphin topped Wilson 3-2 with a goal 1:13 into overtime, Palmyra beat Hershey 2-0, and Boiling Springs downed Oley Valley 3-1.

“I think (the level of play) in the L-L is good,” A-C head coach Carrie Gingrich said on Saturday after Bishop McDevitt scored a 2-1 win and denied her team a trip to states.

“In our coaches’ meeting, we’ve talked about how we’d like to get stronger, because the Mid-Penn and Tri-Valley right now are the strongest leagues in our state. We’d like to get up to their level so we can talk more about the L-L.”

The Berks League, which produced 3A finalist Wilson and 1A finalist Oley Valley, also deserves some part of that discussion.

The state tournament will play its round of 16 games on Tuesday, quarterfinals next Saturday and semifinals on Nov. 15 in all classes. Because the L-L teams did not go quite deep enough in the district tournament, all three local qualifiers must travel for their first-round games.

The championship tripleheader will be played at Cumberland Valley on Nov. 19, after having been held at Whitehall from 2008 until last fall.

Since the PIAA went to three classifications for field hockey in 2016, the L-L has had three state finalists, all winners. Donegal beat Merion Mercy 6-2 in the 2016 Class 2A final, Penn Manor defeated Downingtown West 2-0 in the 2017 Class 3A final, and Donegal returned to beat Palmyra 1-0 in overtime in the 2018 Class 2A final.

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