‘All of the cards are falling in our hands right now,’ Boiling Springs’ Reagan Eickhoff on scoring the game-winner, advancing for the first time to the Class 1A championship

The numbers don’t lie.

Boiling Springs has been working on a 90-day journey to get to the 2022 PIAA Class 1A field hockey championship since preseason. While it wasn’t the Bubblers’ only focus, they put it on the table as a must-have later.

As of November 16, here are a few facts that can’t be disputed: they won the District 3 Class 1A title; they entered the state tournament as the No. 1 seed; they are 25-0; they’ve had 20 shutouts; they’ve only allowed their opponents 4 goals; and they are the last-remaining program in the state of Pennsylvania to go undefeated in the 2022 fall field hockey season.

With that said, the contest they play against Wyoming Area on Saturday at Cumberland Valley is going to be the game of their high school lives.

“On the way here, a few of us cried,” senior Reagan Eickhoff said. “This is crazy, you never know. We made it all the way. We’re not done yet.”

Eickhoff scored the game-winning goal 30 seconds into overtime against Central Columbia on Wednesday.

“Zoe (Collins) had it,” Eickhoff said of her goal. “And, I was like, ‘this is great.’ Zoe is so strong. I’m like, ‘she’s going to take it.’ And, then I was like ‘I have it.’ And, then she passes to me, and I’m like, ‘uh oh.’ This is on me. And I just did a little reverse. I didn’t know if Lexi (Hanlin) – I figured Lexi was going to touch it – but it just slipped right by the goalie.”

The Bubblers, who had a little strut in their steps as they left the field, have supported each other all season. When one of them isn’t having a good day, there’s no condescension from senior leadership of poor you. There’s respectful, helpful feedback, and encouragement that’s communicated. Blustery egos, which provide misguided information, don’t get in the way.

That mental preparation is going to be the sticking point on Saturday. The Bubblers are a team that knows their numbers in terms of stats and advantage. After 60 minutes of regulation, and seeing that they couldn’t break Central Columbia’s backline, overtime was a quick enough solution for them to earn the win.

“That’s our strong suit…because we have so much endurance,” Eickhoff said. “I know, we’re all out there, like, we have such a strong-knit team. We’re doing it for each other.”

She later added: “All of the cards are falling in our hands right now.”

The overall game was a contest between the midfields. Eickhoff battled Central Columbia’s Alyx Flick for more than half the game. Eickhoff, an Ohio State University commit, and Flick, a Bloomsburg University commit, shared a similar level of anticipation.

Boiling Springs had the ball on its attack side more often than Central Columbia, but the Bubblers did not necessarily possess it. The Bubblers were able to contain the Blue Jays, preventing them from getting the ball out of their 25 to 50. The Blue Jays, however, got their game going when they found a hole. And, then they’d send a through pass.

Neither team was able to explosively run away with their playbook. There were only a few breakaways down the right and left, but the game was mostly defensive countering by Central Columbia.

Even in windy conditions, making it harder to hear, Boiling Springs players could be heard along the sidelines saying, “little pass, little.”

They respond to each other, as per Hanlin taking direction from Genna Bush. Hanlin then worked the ball tighter and closer to her stick instead of putting on a big performance. She used her hockey IQ to value possession and make a wiser, smarter, tighter pass.

“There were just unlucky touches in the circle,” Eickhoff said. “But I mean, we kept it together. I think composure was really big in this game. Because they were a little pushy in this game. And we weren’t getting calls in our direction.”

Central Columbia had two green cards and one yellow. The five-minute yellow card was given halfway through the third when Reese Knorr dropped a Bubbler player to the ground near the top of the circle. The Bubblers were given a corner.

The Bubblers were more successful with carrying the ball. The Blue Jays were visibly prepared to play strong defense.

The second-seeded Blue Jays stood a chance to cause the upset in the fourth quarter, when they were awarded two consecutive corners. The umpires reset one of them.

“I’m so proud of them,” head coach Carol Rakich said. “We knew coming into this game, it was going to be tough. We knew they were very strong. Their stickwork is very strong. They’re disciplined. They stay in their lanes. They’re a very good team. We knew it was going to be tough. We came out with nothing to lose. Leave it out there. My senior class this year was just unbelievable. There was good leadership. They really wanted it. And they just play with their heart and grit.”

It was the first time Central Columbia made it to the semifinals. The Blue Jays, out of District 4 in Pennsylvania, end their season 18-5.

Boiling Springs head coach Kortney Showers said she knew from the start of the season that her team would make it all the way to the end.

“In a weird way, it’s that gut feeling, knowing that they could do it,” she said.

This was one of the coaches’ most strategic games, Showers said. It seemed that any adjustment Boiling Springs made, Central Columbia matched it with heart or speed.

Looking into the championship game, she said she wants to work on one-on-ones. And, if they encounter another windy day, she wants her players to figure out how to communicate when you can’t hear each other.

Showers admitted she’s felt the highs, but she only allows herself to enjoy them for a short duration. Her belief in her team can be felt among all the players. She wants them to see each other for who they are and how, with all of their differences, they are still one strong unit.

She said when a season ends, of course, it’s sad. But she’s also ready to feel the excitement of running out on the field one more time.

“With all of these games, you have to go to a real high,” she said. “The whole way home, we’re screaming. I haven’t fully celebrated the district title.”

Bubblers: 1 OT

  • Goal – Eickhoff
  • Assist – Collins
  • Corners – 10

Blue Jays: 0

  • Goal – 0
  • Assist – 0
  • Corners – 3
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