Central Bucks West falls 3-1 to Lower Dauphin in a hard fought first round of the 2022 PIAA tournament

The first Lower Dauphin ball that hit the back of the cage in the Falcons game against Central Bucks West should have been called a hole punch.

Avery Pollock tore off a reverse shot on a corner. West’s goalie Kendra Pitts blocked the shot, but Katelyn Strawser grabbed the rebound, created space around herself, and then launched a reverse heater.

It’s a wonder that the ball didn’t punch through the backboard.

The final score Tuesday was 3-1 Lower Dauphin in the first round of the 2022 PIAA Class 3A tournament. The Buckshots season came to an end.  

“They’re a really good team and we knew that we had to come out with a lot of intensity,” Pollock said. “I think we did just that.”

Strawser’s goal happened with 2 minutes remaining in the first. It was the Falcons third corner after Ellie DeHart forced a West player to foul inside the circle.

Almost four minutes into the second quarter, the Buckshots evened the score 1-1. They also were able to convert a corner. The pass was pushed to the top then dropped to Payton Killian’s left. Lily Cosner ripped a shot that was sent into the air and out of the Falcon’s goalie reach.  

The sixth-seeded Buckshots fought hard for a win. They had quick, clean passing sequences and swiftly ran the ball down the sidelines. West executed smart transfers to move the ball to its strongside.

Aida Ierubino was a natural distributor. She smoothly passed to Nina Mayro, who passed to Mimi Duffy a number of times. They, however, were greeted by Lower Dauphin’s backline.

The 1-1 stalemate in the second didn’t last long. After one of the Buckshots transfers, the ball was on West’s right side near the 35 yard-line. It was on Lower Dauphin’s attack side. An attempted sideline free hit was made to send the ball to the left side of the field.


It was across the cage.

Pollock was there to read the pass, intercept, and run it into the circle, where she hammered another ball past Pitts. The score was 2-1 at the half.

It was anyone’s game in the third for the first few minutes, until it started to get physical. Cosner was reading the ball very well, but in an attempt to not get beat to it, she inadvertently started to push.

Lower Dauphin’s Vic Kutz sent a hard ball out of the middle and slightly to the right to Pollock. Cosner tried to get to the pass first but ended up pushing instead.

She received a 2-minute green card. The warning came with 8:20 left in the third.

Another green was given two minutes and 20 seconds later. While Lower Dauphin had the numbers of 11 versus 10 for about four consecutive minutes, the Falcons didn’t score.

Nearing the end of the third, Pollock had a burst of energy. She was running the ball to the baseline and throwing her stick into any nearby traffic, seemingly knocking the ball out of possession several times.

“We kept shooting,” Pollock said. “I was all over the ground. Katelyn was driving the baseline. We were just doing really good. The forward line – Elli and Alexa (Lehman) – was doing amazing. I don’t think we ever gave up. There was no giving up. And even in our back, our defense and our mids were pushing. And I think we were ready for it. It was a well-fought game.”

Strawser credited the win to Lower Dauphin’s defense.

“Our defense was really holding it down back there,” she said. “The other team had amazing shots. We stayed really composed. We struggled with that in the beginning of the season. It’s really important to be able to stay calm.”

Acknowledging that the state tournament is a “whole new ballgame,” Strawser said the pace was one of the faster games the Falcons encountered this season. Other than the second quarter, Lower Dauphin was in control of the first, third, and fourth, she added.

The third goal scored by Lower Dauphin was talent mixed with timing. Pollock ran the ball to the baseline on the left, drove a shot toward the goalie, which was blocked. The ball lost its speed and slowed to a stop just north of the stroke mark.

Lower Dauphin’s Dani Murphy was a few steps away. The defensive-mid walked into the circle, looked around, and chose to shoot. It’s a hard lesson learned for many hockey players who stop playing before an umpire blows a whistle.

It’s something coaches tell players all the time: play to the whistle, she said.

“I thought the play was over,” Murphy said. “But no one was stopping so I just went in and hit it in. A goal is a goal. Play to the whistle.”

It was unanimous that West had speed.

“We knew they would be very fast and want it a lot because we are district champs,” she said. “I was thinking don’t let them get past me and if they do, then sprint back.”

That teamwork is something Lower Dauphin’s head coach praised.

“We knew that they were very fast, so we had to make sure that we transitioned well,” Linda Kreiser said. “We were trying to support on attack, but yet as soon as we lost the ball, we all had to get back as a team. And I think our defense did a great job of doing that. Our forwards did an awesome job of running with them and pressuring them. I just thought it was a great game. It was everything I expected it to be. This first game is the hardest game because you get a 6 seed, but they might have lost in an early round. They were 18-2-1. So, they’re a nice team.”

The Falcons were hoping to not give them many corners, she said. The Buckshots had several creative ones, and Lower Dauphin didn’t want to be on the defending end of them. The team’s mids and backs – Maddy Weaver, Moran Sparks, Kutz, and Bridget Fawn – were reliable to protect their feet, Kreiser said.

“It was a great win for us against a great team and we’re excited to be moving on,” she said.

Central Bucks, just a short three years ago, was at the bottom of its conference. That’s when head coach Dave Deangelis took over the program. He said his coaching style is focused on “growth and development.” The Buckshots finished second in their conference this season.

“The reason we’re here is we had opportunities in some of the playoffs before we got (to Lower Dauphin) and we just weren’t able to close it out,” he said of the team’s seeding.

Deangelis called his front seven “pretty exceptional.” Most of them are underclassmen.

“First, we give credit to Lower Dauphin,” he said. “Lower Dauphin and Emmaus are the elite of the state. We didn’t protect the ball two critical times – across the cage and right in front of the goalie. It’s just the little things, continuing to be poised. We try to train at game speed. We have to do a little better at protection and I think we would have been OK. We had our chances.”

Deangelis said they take “nothing for granted.”

“We’re never going to be satisfied,” he said. “It’s been my privilege to be part of their growth as student-athletes. When you get behind the curtain day in and day out, you see what they do. I get every team works hard. For me, (this team) is a blessing.”

Falcons: 3

  • Goals – Strawser (1), Pollock (1), Murphy (1)
  • Assists – 0
  • Shots – 10
  • Penalty corners – 9
  • Saves – Payton Killian (7)

Buckshot: 1

  • Goals – Lily Cosner
  • Assists – 0
  • Shots – 8
  • Penalty corners – 5
  • Saves – Kendra Pitts (6), one defensive

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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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