Manchester Valley’s girls lacrosse team capped a season of dominance in Carroll County Athletic League play in rousing fashion Wednesday evening.
Fueled by a diverse offensive attack, paced by Emma Penczek’s match-high seven goals, and a smothering defense, guided by the stingy play of Luetta Seipp, the sixth-ranked Mavericks dominated host Westminster in the second half for a lopsided 17-4 victory to complete a perfect run to the CCAL championship.
“We talked to our girls about starting and finishing at the same level of play, and I think that’s something we did really well tonight,” Manchester Valley coach Shelly Brezicki said. “We also talked about being disciplined. Every team we play in the county is tough. Westminster is a tough team, a well-coached team. We knew that we needed to get momentum and keep momentum, and I think our kids did a great job of that.”
After notching a pair of first-half goals, Penczek erupted for five more in the second half to help the undefeated Mavericks (11-0 overall, 6-0 CCAL) outscore the Owls, 10-1, in the final 25 minutes in a match that was delayed well past the 6 p.m. start time because of lightning in the area, which halted the junior varsity game early in the second half.
Penczek, who also dished out two assists, was one of seven Manchester Valley players to score, including Casey Meredith (three goals, assist) and Haylee Bittinger (three goals, assist). The Mavericks outshot the Owls, 22-9, and scored four unanswered goals to open the second half and then the final six to seal the victory.
" We just knew what they were going to do; we just picked apart their defense easily,” Penczek said. “We knew we had to come out with heart, passion, and that’s what we did. We’re county champions now, so we’re going to celebrate that.”
Seipp, Sophie Baer, and Maya Trump spearheaded a defensive effort that limited the Owls to four shots in the opening 25 minutes and harassed Westminster into numerous turnovers while executing its offensive sets. That suffocating defensive pressure included a pesky full-field press that resulted in a steal and a fastbreak goal by Erin Herrold, who stripped the ball from Emily Conklin inside of Westminster’s half of the field and then streaked unopposed to the goal for a 6-2 first-half lead.
“I think we were very motivated,” Seipp said. “We knew it was going to be a hard game. They’re a good team. We had each other’s back. We had a few times, we had a teammate who would go for a steal and you would watch everyone slide in to protect them. We weren’t worried about making mistakes because we know everyone is there for each other.”
Jess Kent scored two goals for the Owls (7-3, 5-1 CCAL) in the first half to keep things close. Paige Moreland posted Westminster’s lone second-half score.
Manchester Valley, which has non-league matches with Bel Air, Dulaney and Frederick County’s Oakdale left before entering state postseason play, outscored its Carroll County rivals, 100-20.
“I think all over the field, Manchester Valley had an exceptional level of hustle and an exceptional level of grit from every single player all over their field,” Owls coach Tori McDonald said. “I think that we needed to make sure as a team that we were being very patient with the opportunities that presented themselves.
We all see Manchester Valley is a fantastic team, and we need to make sure we’re capitalizing on our possessions when we have them, taking care of the ball, and having that grit and hustle throughout the entire field. I think throughout the first half, we really saw that, but we have to maintain that for 50 minutes on our end.”
NO. 6 MANCHESTER VALLEY 17, WESTMINSTER 4
Manchester Valley 7 10 - 17
Westminster 3 1 - 4
GOALS: Manchester Valley - Emma Penczek 7, Casey Meredith 3, Haylee Bittinger 3, Erin Herrold, Addison Meyer, Natalie Burmeister, Sarah Brisson. Westminster - Jess Kent, Paige Moreland, Brinely Tozer.
ASSISTS: Manchester Valley - Emma Penczek 2, Casey Meredith, Haylee Bittinger, Natalie Burmeister.
SAVES: Manchester Valley - Zoe Cassell 4. Westminster - Naomi Allen 2.