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As with any competitive finale, you never know who’s going to win.
One part of any game that can’t be quantified is playing smart and with an athlete’s heart. Two high school field hockey teams in central Pennsylvania dug deep in round one of the District 3 high school field hockey postseason to bust into the quarterfinals.
Both Red Land and Cedar Cliff are in the same school district – West Shore. They are rivals, who compete on a shared field. And, in 2023, they can share that they both upset their competitor in the first round of postseason playoffs.
Here’s what the coaches had to say about their upset wins:
Red Land Head Coach Tabi Kleese (No. 15 Red Land defeated No. 2 Susquehannock 2-1 in OT, Class 2A)
“With about 4 minutes left in the game, I called a timeout and I told them this is not the time to panic and that we have plenty of time to score. We have been here before and we know we can do it. We quickly discussed and I said that we didn’t want this to be the end of our season and that we want to make school history…that rallied the girls with several of them following up with ‘yeah we want to win, we want to keep playing, we want to make school history, lets go.’ We scored about a minute later to tie the game up.
Unfortunately, in the end of regulation we got carded and had to start a player down. I told the girls to keep possession and run the clock for two minutes. We did that well, but they did come up with the ball once, got into our circle, and a stroke was called. Strokes are tough and are often successful so it was a bit nerving, but Josie got the save and kept us in the game. Twenty seconds later our player was back on the field and a minute later, she was able to force a stroke call for us. I have to be honest, I felt pretty good that we had the game.
Ashley is so consistent and reliable. She does well under pressure. Early in the season I had several girls who can take a great stroke stand at the line with our players yelling at them and making noise to see who can consistently make it under pressure. Ashley has amazing composure in intense situations, so I felt pretty good that she was going to make it.
It wasn’t her usual shot, but it was a great shot and an amazing conclusion of an intense and great game. Afterwards, I told the girls that I wouldn’t have wanted to win this game any other way, because now we have been here and know we can be down one and come back, we can play overtime a man down, we can have a stroke called against us and save it, and we can still win the game.
These big games in districts are a lot about the mental game and how you prepare to play them. We have been mentally preparing all season with the games we have to play, but we have also been preparing at practices for all types of situations.
The girls thrive on strategy. They are keeping composed, and they are playing confidently. It was an amazing way to start districts and I am also just thrilled that these girls get to experience and be a part of an exciting time for Red Land field hockey. How is the team feeling…well I asked them and this is what they said….’we are hype, exhilarated, ready to go! We are looking forward to tomorrow!’
Cedar Cliff Head Coach Justin Weaver (No. 12 Cedar Cliff defeated No. 5 Cumberland Valley 1-0 in OT, Class 3A)
“We believe that any given day and any team can come out on top. A competition involves varying levels of skill, speed, strength and heart, and you have to bring everything you can to the field for every competition. CV brought their combo, and so did we, and our ingredients brought us out on top that day. They beat us twice before, so we had some adjustments to make. The girls bought in, and made it happen. CV has a high-quality program, and we are fortunate to be able to compete with great teams like theirs.”
Photo: Red Land at Susquehannock District 3 round one, Bob Benscoter