Defenders ousted again in the PIAA semifinals

Warrior Run players walk off after their defeat Tuesday in the PIAA Class A girls soccer semifinals at Cumberland Valley High School.

MECHANICSBURG  — There was no hiding the emotions coming from the Warrior Run players following Tuesday night’s Class A semifinal against Fairfield. Tears, sadness and perhaps even some frustration as they walked off the field toward their bench.

This was a team, after all, that held high aspirations of reaching Hershey to play for the program’s third state final. After two consecutive seasons of falling in the semifinals in a shootout, the Defenders wanted back.

But things don’t always go as planned, and for the Defenders, it was the end of the road once again in the state semifinals.

Warrior Run’s season came to a tough end falling to Fairfield, 3-0, in the Class A semifinals at Cumberland Valley High School.

“I mean they were all quick. Quick, very good skill, passed well. They were a very good team,” Warrior Run coach Jen Allen said. “We faced a good team tonight. Kept them in check for the first half, had some opportunities. Second half we’re not really keeping possession, we were kind of backing ball up, not finding feet and they were able to capitalize.”

The Defenders (17-4-3) and Knights (25-1) took a scoreless game into the half before Fairfield struck first just over five minutes into the second half. With 34:54 to play, Hannah Logue was fed a pass from Annabel Anderson and with two Warrior Run defenders on her, still managed to fire a nice shot to her right toward the post for the 1-0 lead.

In goal, Madi Welliver made numerous fantastic stops and diving blocks to prevent the score from ballooning any more than it did. In addition, Warrior Run’s Gabby Heiss routinely chased down Logue or Anderson on breakaway chances to force the ball out of bounds and clear it before a shot could be fired.

“First half, she made a ton of good saves. Second half, she grabbed the ball and brought them in when she needed to. Did a great job,” Allen said of her senior keeper.

Anderson was fed a pass from Logue wih 7:45 to play that gave Fairfield a huge 2-0 lead over Warrior Run. Logue got the breakaway to inside of the 18 and with a defender closing in, dished the ball to her left to Anderson, who took it and fired it into the back of the net fo the goal.

“I was like ‘You know what, we need one. We need one’ because they kept pressing and pressing,” Fairfield coach Phomma Phanhthy said.

The duo of Logue and Anderson proved tough for Fairfield. While Heiss and the Defenders limited the two to just one goal each, they constantly were trying to make things happen and get breakaway chances.

“That’s a deadly combination. We’ve been working on that and Annabel likes to take on people. I tell you, if she starts to actually look up and realize there’s somebody else on the other side, I think that it’s going to be ugly for the other team,” Phanhthy said. “She does really nice things. She loves the game and you can see the passion that she plays with. She loves the challenge. Scares me, but she loves it.”

Warrior Run tried to create offensive chances in the second half, but couldn’t record a second-half shot on goal. Fairfield ended with a 9-3 shots on goal advantage against the Defenders. Warrior Run had some nice chances in the first half, firing a total of six shots, but couldn’t find the back of the net.

The Defenders best chance of scoring came with roughly 30 seconds to play until halftime when Rylie Urbanski fired a great shot from just inside of the 18 that she tried to slip under the crossbar, only to have it hit the crossbar. While the ball did stay in play, no Warrior Run player was nearby to try to follow it through and tap in a goal.

The Knights’ final goal came with 34 seconds to play. Logue fed Nora Clarke a pass that Clarke finished from inside the goal box for the 3-0 lead.

Fairfield had two great chances in the first half in roughly a minute’s span. First Sarah Heinbaugh took a loose ball to just outside the 18 and tried going high, but Welliver made a great jumping catch to save it with 24:50 to play. About 40 seconds later, Anderson took a loose ball and tried a shot, but Welliver made a solid head’s up play, sliding to block the shot.

Both Emily Ritner and Lanie Urbanski had nice looks early in the first half, but both shots went just wide of the post out of bounds.

Welliver ended her career as the state’s all-time girls shutout leader with 60. The Defender’s senior class also ended with 71 career wins, including winning three consecutive District 4 championships and three consecutive trips to the state semifinals.

F-Hannah Logue (Annabel Anderson), 34:54. F-Anderson (Logue), 7:45. F-Nora Clarke (Logue), 0:34.

Shots: WR 3, F 9. Corners: WR 1, F 6. Saves: F (Ashley Roser) 2, WR (Madi Welliver) 6.

Records: Warrior Run (17-4-3), Fairfield (25-1).