EMMAUS — Katie Karpinski’s most important assignment is on the defensive end of the field.
That, however, could not stop Karpinski from getting involved on the other end, too.
The junior center back scored the game’s first goal and assisted on the game-breaker early Saturday when Crestwood defeated West Chester East, 5-1, to move into the PIAA Class 2A field hockey semifinals.
Crestwood advances into Tuesday’s semifinals against District 1 champion Merion Mercy Academy, which is unscored upon through two rounds of state play, including Saturday’s 4-0 win over Monsignor Bonner and Prindie.
“She played a great game on defense,” Crestwood coach Patsy Moratori was quick to point out about Karpinski, before acknowledging that the scoring was a help as well.
Karpinski gets to join the offense on penalty corners and it was there that she teamed with Morghan Murphy in assisting each other’s goals to lead a balanced Crestwood attack.
With Karpinski holding down the middle and getting help from junior Lauren Shiplett and sophomore Emma Colo in the back line of a young Comets lineup, Marlee Dillon did not need to make a first-half save while Crestwood held West Chester East to one penalty corner and one errant shot.
When asked to explain her role on the team, Karpinski’s priorities are clear.
“I’m just back there communicating with my girls, telling them where to be, what gaps to cover,” Karpinski said. “And, then, getting the ball out of the back and keeping it out.”
In a tightly played first half where the teams combined for just two shots and no corners in the first 16 ½ minutes, Karpinski made sure Crestwood was able to break on top.
The Comets turned their first corner into their first three, drawing additional calls to keep the pressure on without ever leaving the West Chester East end.
On the third attempt, Murphy received the insert and dumped a pass to the left to Karpinski, who made the shot with 11:52 left in the half.
Crestwood added to the lead 2:37 before halftime. Sarah Richards shot from the right side and Arden Morgans was there at the left post to knock in the rebound.
The Comets needed less than a minute to make it 3-0 to start the second half.
Mackenzie Kile got to a rebound out of a scramble in front and slid the ball to the left where Emma Janosczyk was open for the easy score.
The game changed in the final 24 minutes as West Chester East took more chances, picking up the pace for both teams. The District 1 fourth-place team had six of its eight shots and five of its six corners during that time.
“They were going all out and came at us with a lot of intensity,” Karpinski said.
West Chester East cut the deficit to two goals and Crestwood had to fight through playing shorthanded because of a card for the second of three times in the game.
Karpinski and Murphy stopped the momentum on another corner play. Murphy scored off the rebound of Karpinski’s hard shot.
“We both helped each other out,” Murphy said.
They helped each other into Crestwood’s fifth straight – and perhaps most unlikely – trip to the state semifinals.
“In the beginning of the year, if you asked me if we’d be in the semifinals, I don’t think I would have predicted that,” Moratori said. “We replaced eight players from last year, which is huge, but we do have some key returnees.”
Karpinski and Kile provide some of that experience along with senior Jordan Olenginski, who scored the last goal, and Dillon, who had four saves.
They have guided the way for the team to form a combination that is playing some of its best hockey at the most important time. The Comets beat defending state champion Twin Valley, 2-1, in the first round, avenging last year’s state tournament loss.
“I thought we played a great game against Lehman,” Moratori said. “I thought that was a really quality game for us but we just couldn’t finish.
“Other than that, this is probably the best two games we’ve played.”
PIAA Class 2A
Field Hockey Semifinals
West Chester East`0`1`—`1
First half — 1. CR, Katie Karpinski (Morghan Murphy) 11:52; 2. CR, Arden Morgans (Sarah Richards) 2:37. Second half — 3. CR, Emma Janosczyk (Mackenzie Kile) 29:04; 4. WCE, Kelly Conlon (Nicole Fredricks) 23:38; 5. CR, Murphy (Karpinski) 7:30; 6. CR, Jordan Olenginski. 0:42.
Shots — WCE 8, CR 16. Saves — WCE 6 (Nikki Bentley 3, Carli Fulton 3), CR 4 (Marlee Dillon). Penalty corners — WCE 6, CR 9.