Manheim Central-Ephrata has been one of the premier Lancaster-Lebanon League girls soccer rivalries of the 21st century, and what better way to kick off the 2020 L-L Section Two campaign than with another showdown?
"The players change, but the rivalry remains," said Barons coach Andrew Stoltzfus, happy to get back on the pitch.
Happy as well to be playing, veteran Ephrata coach Wes Deininger said, "I kind of feel we've been trying to find our feet the whole preseason."
But when it comes to finding feet, there's Hannah Adair.
The forward left an indelible mark on the Barons' 3-2 home victory Thursday night, having a hand — foot, really — in every Manheim goal, and generating danger with every touch.
Her corner service in the eighth minute led to the Barons’ icebreaker as Summer Bates pounced on the defense's clearing attempt, redirecting it to the right corner of the frame, past the outstretched hands of keeper Sophia Gonzalez.
Sixteen minutes later Adair found Emma Myers in the box and the sophomore midfielder sent the Barons (1-0) into halftime with a 2-0 lead.
Denied access to the offensive third for much of the first 60 minutes, the Mountaineers (0-1) lit their side of the scoreboard in the 66th minute when Mya Mahlandt connected with Kiersten Doutt with 14:24 to play.
Having graduated Abby Weist and league top scorer Annie Slovak, it could not be surprising that the Mounts have been looking for scoring punch.
"We were having a struggle to find it," said Deininger, "then all of a sudden in the second half we created some really good chances."
But so did Manheim, and Adair answered a minute later, taking a ball from Rachel Merrill out from behind midfield and carrying down the right slot.
“I'm trying to work on my composure this year,” Adair said, “so I tried to keep as composed as possible as I saw the goalie coming with all her force.”
Gonzalez came out to the top of the box, challenging Adair.
"I knew that if I took a quick touch,” Adair said, “she would just go past me.”
Which is exactly what happened.
With an open net in front of her, Adair's toe poke gently rolled into the net with what turned out to be the game-winner.
Ten minutes later Ephrata extended play in the box after an Emily Weidner corner service. The ball came to freshman Iyanna Nissley, whose finish made the last five minutes closer than the Barons may have liked.
Especially considering three of Manheim's six losses in 2019 were to the Mountaineers.
"We have lots more winning to do," Adair said, "but (winning) this was one of my main goals for the season."