Cocalico vs Manheim Twp.- L-L Girls Lacrosse Championship

Manheim Twp. players celebrate with the championship trophy after beating Cocalico to win the L-L girls lacrosse championship at Conestoga Valley High School Thursday May 13, 2021.

League-leading scorer Hannah Custer scored the first two goals of the Lancaster-Lebanon girls lacrosse championship game Thursday night. But it seemed to kick Manheim Township into gear, with the Blue Streaks scoring the next four, later taking a three-goal lead into halftime and eventually pulling away for a 15-8 victory.

With the win, Manheim Township (16-4) captured its 11th-straight league tourney crown, and 13th overall.

“It’s a lot about proving ourselves,” Manheim Township junior Sydney Witwer said. “We missed the year last year, so we had to show that Township could come right back on top.”

Competing under the lights at Conestoga Valley, Witwer notched a game-high seven goals. After her team fell behind 2-0 early, Witwer scored three in a row. And they came in all varieties: on a free position, on a fastbreak man-up situation, and on an assist from Megan Rice (four goals, four assists).

“It’s definitely a lot about how the defense watches you,” Witwer said. “They see what you do and as they catch on, you switch it up.”

On the other end, Manheim Township senior defender Emma Hagg was responsible for face-guarding Custer for most of the night. The Streaks’ defense also switched back-and-forth from a man-to-man defense and zone defense throughout the first half and into the opening moments of the second half.

“Coach (Mark) Pinkerton wanted us to go in with a situational face-guard,” Hagg said. “So if we felt it was necessary to press out on her, we would do that. We really wanted to deny her the ball because Hannah with the ball is very threatening. But if she got the up above the 12-yard line we wanted to stay back because she can drive right through us. She’s so good.”

Manheim Township went up 4-2 midway through the first half before Cocalico (14-3) tied it at 4-4 at the 10:22 mark. The Streaks scored the next three goals and later led 9-6 going into intermission.

The Eagles were able to keep it close with Custer winning 16 of the 25 draw controls, an area where the Streaks are still in a feeling-out process, with multiple players trying their hand at the midfield circle throughout the season and again Thursday.

“We’re fluid with who we put on,” Hagg said. “It’s just whoever we think can get it that time.”

Custer’s fourth and final goal of the night cut the Eagles’ deficit to 9-7 with 23:33 remaining.

Manheim Township led 12-8 with 8:24 to go went Custer went out with a left ankle injury for about three minutes before returning, clearly hobbled but playing through the pain. The Eagles were competing in the league tourney for the first time since 2014 and third time overall.

“Tonight was huge,” Cocalico fifth-year coach Courtney Reinhold said. “It was all their first time in the league championship. Making it here was one of our goals all the years I’ve been coaching. We finally made it. I’m super proud of them.”

Cocalico keeper Alayna Trynosky made five saves, while Manheim Township keepers Gail Wilkes and Maddie Eckert each had two saves apiece.

Up next for both teams will be the district playoffs, where Manheim Township will contend for the Class 3A crown, while Cocalico will battle for the 2A crown.


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