Central Valley's plan works to perfection

Class AA Girls: Warriors win title

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HERSHEY, Pa. -- The map for Central Valley's route to the PIAA Class AA girls soccer championship was simple and fairly exact for the Warriors.

"We wanted to get a good start, weather the storm and get the lead," Central Valley coach Mark Perry said.

That plan nearly happened precisely, resulting in a 2-1 triumph for Central Valley against Camp Hill Trinity for the state Class AA title.

There was just one small matter that strayed from the plan: That storm the Warriors weathered in the first half returned later and nearly wiped out all of their work.

Camp Hill Trinity (22-3), the District 3 runner-up, clawed back from the 2-0 first-half deficit, scoring on a long free kick with 20 minutes to play and twice missing a tying goal by inches with 35 seconds to play.

Several minutes after Central Valley's win, Perry was asked how his heart was, given Trinity's dramatic finish.

"Still beating," he said. "Still here."

The Warriors (23-0) survived a shot off the crossbar by Trinity's Ashley Mahaffey, a miss that bounced to the Shamrocks' Ali Basom, who had a clear rip at the left side of the net because Central Valley goalie Lauren Hamilton had spun around looking for the rebound.

But Basom, Trinity's top scorer, fired the ball wide left.

"That shot will haunt me forever," Basom said.

Central Valley's young team features one of the state's best freshmen in Carolina Lucci, who opened the scoring at 19:29 when she accepted a pass from Katie Alexander, one of two senior starters, and passed the defense to go one-on-one with goalie Mary Stephens.

Lucci lured Stephens out and nudged the ball left before popping it past her just as the two collided near the 10-yard line. It was her 40th goal of the season.

Ten minutes after Lucci's goal, Central Valley converged on Trinity again, moving the ball into a mass in front of the goal. The ball traveled above Central Valley's Cassie Pritt, who headed it in the net at the 29:49 mark for a 2-0 lead.

In other sports, a two-score lead is a good thing, but in soccer, the old saying is "the worst lead to have is 2-0."

That nearly turned out to be true. Trinity didn't threaten much in the first 20 minutes of the second half, but came alive late, starting with Addy Fitzgerald's looping free kick from 28 yards out that just evaded Hamilton's outstretched hand.

Central Valley came right back and Lucci seemed to have a second goal at hand when her shot was barely tipped but still heading in the goal until Trinity's Brenna Finegan got her heel on it and Trinity cleared.

From that point, the Warriors survived Trinity's late surge.

"It's an incredible feeling," Lucci said. "You can think about how the game will go, but you really have to experience it."

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