It may have been just the first full week of the season, but there was a playoff-like atmosphere at Manheim Central Thursday night.
It wasn’t just the cheering from the stands, but the play on the field as Donegal and the host Barons battled through a defensive first half.
And then there was a postseason worthy celebration.
As the final horn sounded, Central flooded the field, relishing a 4-1 victory — the Barons first win over Donegal since the Indians moved up to Section Two in 2016.
The game also marked Donegal’s first section loss since a Section Three defeat in 2013.
“It’s such a big win, for the whole program,” Central coach Morgan Briggs said. “We’ve lost to them for so many years and they’ve always had such a phenomenal program. Being able to play with them is awesome, being able to beat them is even sweeter.”
Central (1-0, 1-1) won the opening possession, but it was Donegal that got the first look at the cage, rattling off three corners in the first five minutes. Goalie Mikayla Regan would swat away two more shots before Central made its move.
Despite having two corners turned away, the Barons remained relentless and Lily Sipel capitalized on a scramble in front of the cage to make it a 1-0 game at halftime.
Central doubled its advantage three minutes into the second half on a second effort from Jenna Lutz, who lofted the ball into the back of the net before jumping into her teammates arms in celebration.
Morgan Saunders pulled Donegal (0-1) within one on a penalty stroke five minutes later, but the Indians couldn’t pull any closer.
Instead, Central capitalized on a one player advantage following a green card. Lexi Hosler took the insert on a corner around the right side and hooked her shot into the far corner to again make it a two-goal game.
Donegal had its chances over the next 10 minutes, but Central transitioned to the other end and netted a rebound. Donegal goalie CC Emswiler stopped Kroesen’s shot, but Mattie Hartzler was there to push the ball across the goal line.
“I think it’s a nice wake-up call for them, that every game is going to be this intense — and that’s good for them,” first-year Donegal coach Amanda Janney Misselhorn said. “I think we saw a lot of growth tonight even though the scoreboard didn’t reflect it. At times we had some really nice passing, but I think we’re still trying to force things a little bit, and Manheim had a good defense tonight.”