West Xtra: Cold hard fact -- Warriors still unbeaten

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It was 28 degrees, windy and snowing at half past nine Tuesday night.

The cold was hard to ignore but soon it was not just snow falling from the skies but Hershey kisses and candy bars, being tossed toward the field from the loud contingent of Central Valley supporters on hand at Chartiers Valley.

And all of a sudden the cold became easy to ignore for the Central Valley girls soccer team as the clock wound down on its 2-0 PIAA Class AA semifinal victory against rival Hopewell.

The win sends Central Valley to the PIAA championship game for the first time in the program's short four-year history.

The unbeaten Warriors (22-0) will play District 3 runner-up Camp Hill Trinity (22-2) Saturday at 11 a.m. Central Valley is one of two unbeaten teams left in the state along with Class AAA District 1 champion Neshaminy (24-0).

Of Central Valley's 22 wins, none may have been more rewarding than Tuesday night's in the fourth encounter with their bitter rival.

The prior three meetings had been one-goal games including the WPIAL final 10 days earlier, a 2-1 Central Valley win.

"It is very tough to play someone four times, it's our rival," Central Valley coach Mark Perry said. "The first three games we won by one goal. I thought every game we outplayed them a little bit more."

In the four-year history of Central Valley, the Warriors are 8-1-2 against Hopewell. The rivalry has always been intense but this year with Hopewell upsetting three-time WPIAL champion Mars Area in the WPIAL quarterfinals, the rivalry took center stage in the WPIAL.

"They are a very good team, an excellent team but tonight we were a little bit better," Perry said. "Next year I am sure it will be a great rivalry again but this year we have been the better team."

In the PIAA semifinal, junior midfielder Samantha Fields scored in the 24th minute to give the Warriors an early lead and freshman forward Carolina Lucci delivered the all-important second goal with 24:11 to play in the game.

The cold conditions were nothing new to Perry, a 29-year coaching veteran who has taken boys and girls teams deep into November in postseason tournaments.

"This wasn't the coldest," Perry said. "We played in two inches of snow up at Clarion once. The conditions, they weren't as bad as they look. I thought both teams tried to play some good soccer."

Central Valley senior captain Katie Alexander begged to differ.

"This was the coldest game I have ever played," Alexander said.

She certainly looked the coldest, playing without gloves or long pants.

"I don't like wearing Under Armour, I feel like it is restricting," Alexander said. "I went with no Under Armour and no gloves."

The Vikings kept moving numbers forward but a Central Valley defense anchored by converted midfielder senior Ashley Mutkus and sophomore goalie Lauren Hamilton, held Hopewell scoreless, becoming the first team to do so this year.

"Any time you go to Hershey, it is great -- we are excited," Perry said. "We flew under the radar most of the year, now we have won 22 in a row and we are going to Hershey."

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