Spring-Ford shocks Cumberland Valley on PKs

HERSHEY – When the Spring-Ford girls soccer squad says ‘ team,’ the Rams really mean it.

A team isn’t exclusively the 11 players on the field, and they flat-out proved it Tuesday night.

The final whistle had blown to end the second overtime and send Tuesday night’s PIAA Class AAA Tournament opener between Spring-Ford and District 3 champion Cumberland Valley to penalty kicks.

Rams head coach Tim Leyland read off the numbers of his penalty takers to the referee — an improbable list of five players, four of whom had not played a minute to that point.

o matter as Carrie Baumgartner, Emily Counts and Haley Varlotta came off the bench and buried their penalty takes before right back Amy Roth fired home the decisive score and goalkeeper Jenna Griggs made two saves to send Spring-Ford into the second round of the PIAA Championships with a 1-1 (4-2 on penalty kicks) victory over Cumberland Valley.

“We really are a team,” Leyland said. “The girls sitting here (on the sideline) want it just as bad as the girls there (on the field). You can only have 11 between the lines, but the 25 on the roster are so determined and hungry at practice and it’s a high-level training session. Four of the five girls that stepped up didn’t play during the match. They wanted it so bad, they wanted to win and get to Saturday.”

It was the second straight season Spring-Ford (18-4-3), District 1’s No. 5 seed, knocked off undefeated District 3 champ Cumberland Valley (22-1-2), Tuesday’s game matching the drama of the 2013 installment (won 2-1 by the Rams).

Spring-Ford moves on to face District 7 runner-up Canon McMillian — a 7-0 winner over State College Tuesday — in the second round at a site and time to be determined on Saturday.

Gabrielle Vagnozzi put Spring-Ford into the lead with 12:03 left in regulation on an excellent long through ball from freshman Gabby Kane. But Cumberland Valley capitalized with 1:02 directly off an injury timeout, a long throw-in falling to a wide-open Taylor Sneidman, who buried her shot from close range and sent it to overtime.

“There is so much of a rivalry between us and it is so hard to win two games like that on exactly the same night (first round of states at Hersheypark Stadium) … normally the other team would win,” Roth said. “And we knew they were going to come out hard. They played a fantastic game, all of them.”

Roth was a part of the most recent CV-Spring-Ford state-level matchup when the Eagles beat Spring-Ford for the PIAA girls basketball championship in March.

Cumberland Valley was in the ascendancy much of the game, looking the more likely team to score for much of the contest, especially in the second half.

But against the run of play, Kane got a perfect first touch on Griggs’ punt and sprung Vagnozzi — who was playing as an isolated lone striker for most of the second half — through the Cumberland Valley center backs. Her pace beat out on-rushing Cumberland Valley keeper Sydney Bruckner to the ball to put the Rams up 1-0 with just 12 minutes remaining.

The Rams appeared to be on their way until CV standout Jen Falconer went down with a head injury with 1:09 left. The layoff proved costly for the Rams as Sneidman sent the Eagles into celebration seven seconds later when the Spring-Ford defense failed to clear the ball.

The Rams defense — including the back four of Roth, Taylor Newhart, Missy Moore and Laura Suero – didn’t take kindly to the one error on their night. They didn’t make another one.

“Our defensive unit, Jenna, Suero, Newhart, Roth, Missy Moore, Libby Andrews, that core of defensive-minded players, it is very hard to penetrate against them,’ Leyland said. “That core of girls just doesn’t like to give up goals. You saw it on their faces at the end of regulation. Our goal every game is to not give up a goal.”

Spring-Ford withstood heavy pressure from the Eagles in the second half and overtime, Jenny Bail’s rip from range that was tipped over the bar by Griggs in overtime counting among their best chances.

For that reason, the Rams could feel confident entering penalty kicks.

“With Jenna back there everyone feels comfortable. She’s so amazing,’ Roth said.

“As a goalkeeper you have to be in there, mentally focused and do all you can to save at least one,’ Griggs said.

Penalty kicks began just as the Rams would have dreamed up, Baumgartner coolly hitting hers before a diving save by Griggs to her right. Counts followed with a make as did CV’s Cashlin Copley, who had a near chance in the first half and was among the Eagles’ brightest attacking players.

“It’s something we work on in practice and we work on it consistently,’ Leyland said. “The majority of that group are the girls that consistently score in practice. I’m a firm believer in not forcing anyone to take a penalty. It’s such a weight on your shoulders that if you don’t want to be out on that line, the pressure gets to you.

“Those are the girls that hit them in practice and they stepped up tonight. We hit 4 out of 5, in that pressure situation, against a team like that, against a keeper like that, they stepped up and they were true champions tonight.’

Tori Busa stepped up third for Spring-Ford but skied her shot, but Griggs answered with a save against Sneidman.

Varlotta followed with another make before Roth made the Rams winners for the second straight year in the first round at Hersheypark Stadium.

“I had to be a leader out there,’ Roth said. “No one wanted to take it and I wanted to be that girl who had the winning shot.

“I’m shocked, I’m in shock that we won. I just wanted to be there for my team, and I think I was tonight.’

So was Griggs.

“Our team pushed hard at the end and tried to get the winning goal, but I realized it was going to go to PKs. I just knew I had to do my job,’ she said. “To get this win is really, really special for all of us.’


Cumberland Valley led in shots on goal, 7-6, and in corners, 3-0. … A couple of crossbars were hit, in the first half by CV’s Sneidman on a header and a shot by Spring-Ford’s Molly McHarg in the second half. … Griggs and Bruckner each had six saves.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply