Making coach smile Field hockey: After the death of her brother, Kelly Morano got a lift when her Long Reach team defeated Centennial, 2-1.

October 07, 1997|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Long Reach field hockey coach Kelly Morano woke up early last Saturday at her parents home and went right to the high school sports page.

There were 72 reported scores, but only one mattered to her: Long Reach 2, Centennial 1.

"I was speechless," Morano said. "I showed my dad and he hugged me. It was good to have some good news."

The bad news had come on Thursday. Morano's only sibling, Peter, who began having headaches three weeks earlier, died in Philadelphia of a brain tumor. He was 31.

Morano, who will turn 30 in April, spent Friday afternoon in Philadelphia with her parents, Pete and Dorothy.

But she was at Centennial, too.

"She was there in spirit," said junior captain Kristen Lorch. "It gave us a reason to play hard."

Said Centennial coach Gail Purcell: "They played with a lot of heart and pride. If I was Kelly I would be very proud. You could tell they really played it for her."

The second-year Lightning had gone 12 league games -- 0-8-1 last year -- without a victory. And in Centennial, the Lightning (4-3-2 overall, 1-2-1 league) was facing a six-time county champion that two years ago won the Class 3A state title and last year was a state semifinalist.

The Eagles, ranked 15th last week, dominated the game. But Long Reach goalie Jay Lance had 40 saves.

"Everything was hitting the goalie," said Centennial senior Mary Christine. "We couldn't seem to get it around here. She was amazing."

Said Purcell: "She's the best keeper I've seen in the county for zTC many years."

Lance also got some help from defenders Theresa Heston and Shannon Woodward, both of whom knocked away potential scores.

"And there were two or three balls -- God was with us -- that hit the post and could have gone in or out and went out," Lorch said.

Coaches will say that's field hockey. A team can dominate and lose.

The Lightning went ahead on Robin Siskind's goal with 10 minutes remaining.

"When we scored that first goal I got chills," Lance said.

Five minutes later An Nguyen made it 2-0. "That was the cushion we needed," Lance said.

Centennial, which beat Long Reach, 7-1, last year, scored on Kristen Gaudio's goal with 24 seconds left. Too little, too late.

Morano, whose father is the team's assistant coach, was in Philadelphia all last week, missing practices and Tuesday's 2-1 loss to Wilde Lake. Dan Sageman, the boys junior varsity lacrosse coach, is temporarily in charge.

Morano, who found out about her brother's condition Sept. 25, called Lorch Thursday to tell her the bad news. Lorch, who had met Peter and described her relationship with Morano as "really close," took it hard. "I took it more personally than most," she said. "I was really upset."

Before Friday's pep rally -- it was homecoming weekend -- the field hockey team met and talked about what had happened. "A lot of players were crying," Lance said.

The players drew hearts on their arms with markers and wrote such things as: "I love you Morano" and "I love you Porker."

Lorch gave Morano that nickname because of her high school picture. "Her face was chubby," Lorch said.

Lorch, who made the substitutions during the Centennial game because Sageman is unfamiliar with the sport, told her team: "Let's win it for her."

"We said how happy this [a win] would make her feel," Lance said.

And it did.

"It put a big smile on my face," said Morano.

Morano went to Saturday's homecoming football game and saw many of her players.

"They were so happy," she said. "It was great."

Morano met with the team before yesterday's practice, but did not stay. Her brother's funeral is this morning in Clifton Heights, Pa. She plans to be back this afternoon when the Lightning plays host to Mount Hebron.

Pub Date: 10/07/97

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