MIDDLETOWN, Pa.- Penn State Harrisburg's players, coaches and fans celebrated the careers of two of the squad's four-year leaders in Lacey Eitl (Collegeville, PA/Perkiomen Valley) and Jessie Manion (North Wales, PA/North Penn) prior to the Lions' contest with SUNY Cobleskill on Sunday, Oct. 23. Appropriately enough, the two young ladies made their presence known and had a lot to do with the team's offensive output that led to a convincing 4-1 victory on Senior Day 2011.
Manion netted two goals and Eitl peppered Cobleskill keeper Misty Golden (Oxford, NY/Oxford Academy) with three of Penn State Harrisburg's 22 total shots. Whether it was Manion fighting for loose balls and driving towards Cobleskill's net, or Eitl playing stout defense and keeping the Tigers off the blue and white side of the field, the two long-tenured Lions led by example from the get-go and the rest of the ladies followed suit as the match wore on.
Kara Hoy (Camp Hill, PA/Camp Hill) got the home team on the board first when she put her header past Golden in the game's ninth minute. Nikki Francis (Pottstown, PA/Owen J. Roberts) added the assist. Francis got into the act again less than ten minutes later when she headed Lindsey Haldeman's (Grantville, PA/Hershey Christian) perfectly placed corner kick into the back of the net. The goal was Francis' team-leading tenth of the season.
Manion showed why she will be so missed next fall when she corralled a ball and worked her way through traffic to score her first goal ten minutes into the second half.
Following a Tiger score by Kaitlyn Enright (Rotterdam, NY/Hudson Valley) 46 seconds later, the game looked to be less of a certainty than it had just moments earlier.
But again Manion would make certain that she and her senior counterpart in Eitl wouldn't end their special day with a loss. With less than five minutes remaining in the match, she struck a Francis cross past Golden to end the Cobleskill comeback effort and put an exclamation point on the emotional win. The victory puts Penn State Harrisburg's overall record at 8-4 and the team now sits in position to make another strong postseason run.
"Jessie has seen the tough times as the program has been built up but has also experienced the high points of winning the conference," said Lions' Head Coach Mark Brown about Manion's impact on the program.
"She is a great talent that has led by example with maturity and her own inimitable style. She's a winner of the highest order and with that comes a great competitor. She has brought to the team a strength of play and infectious approach to the game that is second to none. There's no doubt she will be very successful upon graduation. We love her. We'll miss her."
These kind words reflect the appreciation the skipper has for the two essential pieces from Lions' squads that have reached back-to-back North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) championship games. Brown also had nothing but good things to say about his other senior captain in Eitl. While Manion consistently gets the offense rolling, Eitl heads up the defense and her hard work did not go unnoticed.
"Lacey is one of the smartest players that has come through the program and possesses excellent technical skills," said Brown. "She is also one of those players who balances the finesse aspect of her game with that of the physical side, and for a coach that is a wonderful thing. She has often provided the team with the spark that's needed and has on many occasions changed the tempo of games for us in more ways than we can mention. She has been a godsend to the program. We love her and she will be greatly missed by the team and everyone within the program."