Falcons corner play turned ‘lethal’ at just the right time, Avery Pollock on Lower Dauphin topping Central Dauphin 4-0

Three loud booms heard Saturday afternoon on Lower Dauphin Middle School’s turf came from Avery Pollock.

“It was good for us to finally get some in the back of the net,” Pollock said about scoring on two corners.

Three out of the four Falcon goals were landed on corners. The final tally was 4-0 Lower Dauphin topping Central Dauphin.

Lower Dauphin plays Wednesday in the semifinals at Penn Manor. And, its secured a spot to play in the 2022 PIAA Class 3A state tournament.

“We’re excited for states now,” Pollock said. “But we’re more excited for the rest of Districts.”

Lower Dauphin is the reigning District 3 Class 3A champs. They are seeking a repeat and much more afterward.

Perfecting corner execution at this point in the season is a valuable weapon to have, Pollock said.

“In the beginning of the season, I think we were in a slump with our corners,” the junior Liberty commit said. “But, we’re finally getting it, like, really lethal.”

Within a span of four minute in the first quarter, Lower Dauphin had three corners. One shot went wide. One went too high, and the third, it was just right.

From the top, Pollock slammed a direct shot just enough to the goalie’s left to put the Falcons on the board.

“Some people say they look or are aiming or trying to get speed,” Pollock said. “I see the cage, put my head down, and just shoot.” 

She scored her second goal in the second, but after she had been robbed of getting a shot off.

Lower Dauphin junior Katelyn Strawser, who recently announced her commitment to play at Penn State, found a Rams foot at the baseline. Up that point in the second quarter, Central Dauphin’s Maya Williams, Holly DeAngelo, and Sara Yeselavage had noticeably bumped up the pace and pressure. DeAngelo’s channeled energy provoked her to jump the corner Strawser earned, which sent her back to the 50.

But, in her place, Yeselavage ran as flyer. She kicked up her speedy feet to meet Pollock’s stick at the very moment Pollock swung. Yeselavage took the ball and peeled out of the Rams’ defensive circle.

Two minutes later, Lower Dauphin nabbed another corner. This time, Pollock made a slight adjustment from her previous attempt. She added two taps to set up her hit. She ripped, and scored on, another direct shot. The score at halftime was 2-0.

The Rams had several breakaway runs, but often were met by either Lower Dauphin’s Morgan Sparks or Victoria Kutz. Both Falcons mid and back lines were effective at lots of chatter. They were intercepting plays by stepping in front of Central Dauphin players.

“We’ve been doing a lot of drills in practice and scrimmaging that’s just consistent passing,” Pollock said. “I think we really brought it to the game today. We were able to use everyone on the field.”

She added: “we were using the inside and getting (the ball) out. We’ve been doing a lot of combinations with our passing.”

Lower Dauphin’s Dani Murphy was a good example of what Pollock was mentioning. Murphy executed insane ball-control and was a pacesetter on the left.

She ran, spun, and looked up, three times before she made it from about the 50 to the baseline. She was looking for a clean pass to the middle or to a teammate. She didn’t rush her set up. That type of possession and patience can be difficult to defend.

The match didn’t go without drama.

The Rams vigorously fought to get off two shots. Kutz, a senior and Ohio State University commit, decided to sacrifice herself for the team. She defended the Falcons’ cage by sliding to stop a ball from going in. It reminded the Falcons of last year’s PIAA Class 3A state championship game against Emmaus.  

“It was kind of a replay of state championships last year,” Lower Dauphin assistant coach Erin Catalfano said. “She had a save in that game that kept us in it. That’s her playoff hockey. Her alter personality comes out.”

Lower Dauphin and Central Dauphin have history. Both programs knew it wasn’t going to be an easy contest.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CkUg9kyM2RN/

“We prepared for Central Dauphin,” Catalfano said. “(Lower Dauphin and Central Dauphin) have history and it’s a live or die game. You know it’s going to be a battle. Our goal the last six weeks has been just to make sure you’re a better hockey player when you come off the field than when you went on the field. Just up your game. We’re doing it. It’s fun.”

After the third quarter drama concluded, Pollock scored her third goal for the hat trick. Strawser fired off a shot, which hit a Rams foot. The umpire held the call to see what happened next. Pollock grabbed ahold of the ball and finished it into the cage. The score was 3-0 Falcons.

A stroke was awarded to the Falcons in the fourth. Strawser stepped up to take the shot but was denied by Central Dauphin’s goalie. Jackie Rosler, who played a dynamic game, got her stick on Strawser’s shot. Rosler touched the ball up and over the net.

That, of course, stoked Strawser’s competitiveness. With only 2 minutes remaining in the game, Pollock tore off another blistering shot. Strawser was positioned in front of Rosler. She opened her blade for the tip making the final score 4-0.

Central Dauphin’s 2022 District 3 Class 3A postseason ended Saturday.

“There were some good things out there, even though we couldn’t get our goal accomplished,” Central Dauphin head coach Jen Burns said. “It doesn’t negate everything. Looking at the hurdles that we have come across. And the things that have challenged us. I feel that other teams didn’t have to face, like our low numbers. We only had two full subs. I don’t want them to negate all the good things that we’ve accomplished.”

Williams is among eight seniors who are graduating. She has left her mark in Central Dauphin’s program, Burns said.

“It’ll be painful to lose Maya,” Burns said. “But we have some eighth graders coming up. I’ve always said that if we play well as a team, a team playing well can outnumber any super star. So that hole can be filled if we step up a little bit.”

Falcons: 4

  • Goals – Pollock (3), Strawser (1)
  • Assists – Crouse (2), Strawser, Pollock
  • Shots – 16
  • Penalty corners – 12
  • Saves – Payton Killian (1), defensive saves Victoria Kutz

Rams: 0

  • Goals – 0
  • Assists – 0
  • Shots – 2
  • Penalty corners – 0
  • Saves – Jackie Rosler (13)

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*FAN is headquartered in District3. We are also following district games statewide. Check back for October and November postseason coverage.

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