Boiling Springs gets its 19th shutout of the 2022 season against Bloomsburg in the PIAA 1A state tournament opener

Boiling Springs isn’t a second-half team.

But, as games continue to get tougher in the field hockey postseason, they are finding out what it takes to go all the way.

Bloomsburg fell 3-0 at Boiling Springs on Tuesday in the first round of the PIAA Class 1A state tournament. The Panthers 14-8 season ended when the Bubblers’ offensive prowess showed up in the third and fourth to earn them the win.

Newport will take on Boiling Springs in Saturday’s quarterfinals at Lower Dauphin Middle School. The game starts at 11 a.m. All tickets for the PIAA Class 1A state tournament must be purchased online.

“I think in the third quarter, we really cleaned it up and really got it together,” junior Reese Hays said.  

She helped to set scoring in motion.

As per many of the goals Boiling Springs has scored this season, the Bubblers found the cage just under two minutes into the third. They swarmed the circle searching for the ball that was being passed around in front of the Panther’s goalie. Hays happened to be the one whose stick contacted the ball.

Bloomsburg called for its 90-second timeout right after the goal was scored. The Panther’s head coach, Chuck Baker, said it was “to stop the bleeding.”

“I wanted us to get refocused and be ready for the surge that they were going to bring at us,” Baker said.

Despite Baker’s good coaching decision, it wasn’t enough to slow down the Bubblers’ offense. They went on a tear earning five of their eight penalty corners in the third with a set of back-to-back corners. The first set was played at the 10 minute-mark, and the second at 8.

Baker, who was attempting to motivate his players, was on the receiving end of a green card. The warning seemed to inspire his players to defend harder.

But the constant Boiling Springs pressure in its offensive attack circle wore down the Panthers’ defense. Hays, who was heavily marked, was able to break free to field a pass from senior Reagan Eickhoff. Hays got a touch on the ball before shooting it. There were three minutes remaining in the third.

“I think it was just a matter of communication because when we fell silent those first two quarters, we didn’t know where anyone was,” Hays said. “So, when we picked up the communication, it really just sparked our play.”

Teamwork has been at the heart of the Bubblers’ season.

“I think (the goal) was a good showing of us and how we work together as a team,” she added.

The game became more physical in the fourth. Bloomsburg was down 2-0 but not entirely out of the competition yet. Their efforts, though, weren’t controlled enough for the umpires, who handed out another 2-minute green card warning to a player.

“A couple players have to spread the field out a little bit more and play a little bit farther apart,” Baker said of the player-down situation his team faced. “And it’s definitely hard. During that period, they didn’t score when she was off, so that was good.”

As the clock wound down to just under six minutes left to play, Eickhoff had her back to the goal. She was able to slip a shot past Bloomsburg’s goalie Hailey Leisering. The score improved 3-0 Bubblers.

“It was a crazy game at the start,” Eickhoff said. “I think our biggest takeaway from the game was that we have to play our game regardless of the way the other team is playing. We really picked up the intensity and every person on the field was instrumental. Once we got the momentum going, we were keying in on every opportunity that was given to us.”

With the win over Bloomsburg, Boiling Springs is now 23-0. It has tallied 19 shutouts in 2022. Boiling Springs is making its sixth appearance this year in the PIAA state field hockey tournament.

Prior to its matchup against Bloomsburg, Baker said he knew what his team was facing.

“I came and watched them play against Oley Valley the other day, and I saw what they had, and I knew how good they were,” he said. “We have 19 total on the team. We certainly don’t have the kind of numbers that they can throw at us.”

Baker said his team “started out very strong” but “had a brief let-down in the middle” that reflected Bloomsburg’s youth.

“I was very happy with how we played,” he said. “We knew that this is one of the best teams in the state, and we knew we had to come out with the intensity and play hard. We did. But they are tremendous. They have great stick skills, and they’re very aggressive to the ball. And we faced a couple teams probably not this good, but I was so proud of our girls for just hanging for the half.”

It’s the fourth consecutive year that Bloomsburg has been to the tournament, Baker said. The underclassmen gained a lot of experience this year. He said his six seniors, who have been to the state tournament in the past four years, have left behind a standard for future players. The seniors contributed to two District 4 Class 1A titles and have been Pennsylvania Heartland Athletic Conference Champs twice.

“I can’t ask for anything more than they gave me tonight,” he said.

Boiling Springs head coach Kortney Showers admitted she didn’t have much intel about Bloomsburg before the game. She entered the contest with a little bit of “anxiety.”

“We didn’t know what they’re like,” Showers said. “We saw some film, but that was about it. So, it just always gives a little bit of anxiety to not know what we’re up against. But they had quick forwards, which we were able to answer to, but it just took us some time to come into our own and get our passing game down.”

The Bubblers, who are District 3 Class 1 A champs, defeated Newport 1-0 in district playoffs.

“We have Newport coming up, who we’ve already played,” Showers said. “I think it’s just interesting to see the strength that we have in our own district, which really is on a state level kind of strength. It’ll be exciting to go against a team we’ve already played and continue to see what we can do against them.”

If the Bubblers can pull off the quarterfinal win against the Buffaloes, it will be the farthest that the program has ever made it in the state tournament.

“It’s definitely exciting,” Hays said. “We’re going to keep pushing. We’re going to keep going. We’re going to train harder. And we’re going to look to go all the way.”

Bubblers: 3

  • Goals – Hays (2), Eickhoff (1)
  • Assists – Eickhoff (1)
  • Shots – 11
  • Penalty corners – 8
  • Saves – Eva Hancock (2), 2 defensive

Panthers: 0

  • Goals – 0
  • Assists – 0
  • Shots – 4
  • Penalty corners – 5
  • Saves – Hailey Leisering (7)

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*FAN is headquartered in District3. We are also following PIAA state tournament games statewide. Check back for November postseason coverage.

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