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The 2023 PIAA high school field hockey semifinals are here after an intense Saturday filled with postseason triumphs and heartbreaking defeats.
FAN spent the day at Exeter Twp., where we covered four games. Descriptions of those games are included in our overview of the quarterfinals, as well as scores for all of the games played.
Lower Dauphin 2 vs Conestoga 1 (overtime) (Class 3A)
Conestoga’s head coach had a difficult time finding words at the end of the game. She said she was beyond proud of her team for having gone undefeated throughout Stoga’s entire season.
“This was the best season of Stoga hockey probably in history, as far as wins and all that,” Conestoga head coach Regan Marscher said. “I’m just so heartbroken for my seniors right now, especially Alex. I think Lower Dauphin really turned on the heat in the second half. But, as far as the season, I honestly could not be more proud with the win over the No. 1 team in the country, [Academy of] Notre Dame [de Namur]. I mean the resilience this team showed throughout this whole season was nothing like I’ve ever coached before.”
Stoga scored first. And, then Lower Dauphin’s Vic Kutz scored on a corner in the third to tie the game.
The Falcons’ Avery Pollock, who recently returned to the field after rehabbing an ACL and meniscus tear, put in more minutes against Conestoga than she did in her first round appearance. Lower Dauphin field hockey is never built around one athlete, but they do often see a handful of phenoms from year-to-year. It’s without a doubt that Pollock is one of those athletes. There is a Pollock factor.
During overtime, Pollock was setting up a shot in the circle when she was fouled by Conestoga’s impenetrable Alex Lepore, a Temple-bound senior. Pollock scored lifting her team to the semis.
Manheim Twp. 6 vs Parkland 0 (Class 3A)
It was a day full of offensive corners for township. The Blue Streaks have been playing with motivation ever since midway through their season. The township community is mourning and celebrating the life of one of their own.
A beloved middle school teacher, James Michaud, passed away in October after a short battle with an aggressive cancer. He died of stage IV metastatic melanoma. The field hockey team has been wearing ribbons in their hair in his honor. And, hosted a game against Penn Manor on October 17, which was a game played in his memory.
When it came to the quarterfinals, township was firing on all cylinders and playing with its full compliment, whereas, Parkland was down a few unhealthy players.
It was a tough contest for Parkland, which gave all it could to try to hang with township. The Blue Streaks had several different goal scorers on the day.
“We lost two of our starters to concussions in practice,” Parkland head coach Julie Nelson said. “One of our senior mids and one was a junior center defense. That’s tough for us that we have to play to the best of our ability but be down two of our biggest players. It’s hard because before the game we were already deflated. I did have to play a lot of players in a lot of different positions that they weren’t used to playing. You can’t give that many corners away; it’s not gonna work.”
Gwynedd Mercy 3 vs Ephrata 2 (overtime) (Class 2A)
Ephrata didn’t shrug its shoulders when they were down. The competitive squad rallied back to try to keep up with the Monarchs.
The Mountaineers were down 2-0, only to come back and score two before the clock was all zeros. The first goal was scored late in the third and the second in the fourth.
Gwynedd freshman Kendall Deluca scored two and senior Maddie Bogle scored one. It was Marie McCracken’s fourth quarter goal that secured the equalizer for Ephrata, which didn’t have an easy task going against Hannah Popolis. Popolis is super tall, lanky and is heading off to play Division I field hockey at James Madison next season.
The two teams’ competitiveness continued into overtime. Gwynedd earned a corner three minutes into the 10-minute extra period, which ended the game.
Bogle smashed a shot off her back foot from the top of the circle. Deluca was positioned near post, where she tipped it in for the 3-2 victory.
“Our best forward tore her ACL halfway through the season,” Ephrata head coach Joy Rice said. “We have three others who have been getting treatments throughout the past few weeks. This is a team that has confidence in themselves, and their teammates, and they know what they’re capable of. They try to fix things that need fixed. It was a great year. They are quite a nice team. We came out a little bit slow, but they dug out of that hole. It’s just a testament to their competitiveness and their fun together. You go into a weird mental space when you’re down 2-nothing in a state game.”
Hershey 3 vs Radnor 2 (2 OT) (Class 2A)
After a long day of hockey, the closer at Exeter Twp. was Hershey vs Radnor. The final game exhausted FAN’s iPhone 15 battery, and nearby stores were sold out of charging adapters.
Nevertheless, the game must go on. And, it did….into two overtimes.
The game was just as thrilling and dynamic as the first three. There were long balls, interceptions, marking, and solid set pieces. Both teams had several scoring opportunities with wide-open cages, but neither team was able to separate from the other until overtime.
The Trojans were awarded a corner in overtime. Joyce Tao inserted the ball to Riley Welsch. Welsch fired off a shot, which was deflected into the air by Radnor’s corner flyer. Welsch also scored the second goal to add to the stroke scored by Hershey’s Avery Weaber. The final goal was scored with 7:29 remaining.
Lackawanna Trail vs Bishop McDevitt, 3-2 OT
Lewisburg vs Susquenita, 2-1 OT
West Perry vs Palmerton, 6-1
Oley Valley vs Boiling Springs, 2-1
Villa Maria vs Mt. St. Joseph, 4-1
Gwynedd Mercy vs Ephrata, 3-2 OT
Hershey vs Radnor, 3-2 OT
Palmyra vs Manheim Central, 2-0
Conestoga vs Lower Dauphin, 2-1 OT
Wyoming Valley West vs Emmaus, 7-1
Manheim Twp vs Parkland, 6-0
Warwick vs Penn Manor, 3-1
For play-by-play action and video of games held at Exeter Twp., visit our Twitter and Instagram pages. Be sure to like our pages, too! Thank you for reading FAN.