EXETER TWP. >> Maris Large must have felt as if she was wearing a cape in the second half of Tuesday’s PIAA Class 3A semifinal game. She played like a superhero for Manheim Township.
Large scored five second-half goals, including the game-winner, to lead the Blue Streaks to a stunning 12-10 decision over the Cougars.
Oh, and she did all of this after scoring no goals in the opening half.
“Honestly, it just really hit me that I wanted my team to win and that I knew we could do it together,” Large said. “I just saw the lanes and I went to the goalie. I don’t know how it all happened, but it did and we really pulled through.”
Manheim trailed 8-4 with 17 minutes to go in regulation. The Blue Streaks rallied to score eight of the final 10 goals to shock the Cougars, a perennial favorite.
“There are no words. We have been talking about this for so long,” Large said. “We wanted it so badly. Even when we were down four goals, me and all of my teammates said that we got this. We had to pull it together because we needed this win. It was just a great feeling.”
This game was not without its controversial moments. Springfield junior Belle Mastropietro was whistled for a yellow card with less than five minutes to play, moments after she gave the Cougars a 10-9 advantage. Manheim made the most of its time with the man-up, and leading the charge was Large, who tallied the tying and go-ahead goals in the span of 14 seconds.
The shocking turn of events did not sit well with longtime Springfield coach Keith Broome.
“It’s a tie game, four-something left to go. They had already let up five man-up goals after being excessively fouled throughout the game,” Broome said. “If you recall, Belle got hit in the head when she scored on her 8-meter shot. No call. When you come up to a district like this, we’ve seen it before. It’s just a different level. Bottom line, they got the win, but it’s tough to take when their girl holds her head and they give (Mastropietro) a yellow card.”
The Cougars gained possession following Large’s goal to give Manheim the 11-10 lead. Olivia Little fired a shot that was denied by Manheim goalie Haley McCullough. It was Springfield’s last chance to tie the game. The Blue Streaks played keep-away in the waning minutes, although Large put the icing on the cake for Manheim with her fifth goal with 12 seconds to go.
Erasing an 8-4 deficit, the Blue Streaks went in front for the first time in the second half on a goal by Ashlyn Campagna. The Cougars had an answer, as Meghan Cull found the back of the net after she was set up beautifully by Little. Then, moments later, Mastropietro converted an 8-meter shot to put Springfield in front, 10-9.
“I felt we needed to take the next draw — it’s a game of draws,” Broome said. “They were able to get three straight draws and scored in transition, which they are very good at. I felt confident, though. We were up by one, I think we all felt pretty confident. But it’s hard to play with a man down with four minutes left. We played with a man down a lot. It is what it is.”
Springfield finished with a 20-5 record, but fell short in its quest for both a district and a state title.
“It was a tough way to end it,” Broome said. “It was a great year. To get to the big school final four is impressive. I’m very proud of the girls. They battled all throughout the playoffs.
Mastropietro had four goals and one assist, while Carlson added a hat trick and an assist. Little and Erin Gormley each pitched in with a goal and an assist. Sophomore goalie Aidan Gallagher shined in net with six saves.
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