Hershey hands Palmyra field hockey its first loss in decisive 2-1 victory

Hershey 2.0 showed up in the final days of September ready to unseat Palmyra.

“Our last game, we lost 6-2, which was rough,” said Hershey senior Grace Allery. “But I think we had a fire inside of us after that. We just needed to beat them.”

Allery scored one of the two goals for the Trojans in the tightly contested battle. The final score was 2-1 Hershey.

“I don’t really score that much, but when I do, the energy erupts just everywhere,” Allery said. “It’s just crazy. I just love this sport so much.”

Palmyra and Hershey are in the Mid-Penn Conference Keystone Division in District 3. They split the conference’s two meetings this season each taking one win. Hershey 2-1, and Palmyra 6-2.

The competitiveness between them Thursday, Sept. 29 was undeniable. There were no points on the board at the end of two quarters, until the highly coveted corner earned both squad points in the third.

Allery, on a corner, didn’t have much space between Palmyra’s goalie Haleigh Lambert and her left post. But the speed of the ball was swift enough to get it into the cage. Senior Lauren Schulz was credited with the assist.

“It felt insane,” Allery said.

Hershey kicked up the pace in the third, dictating a lot of the ball’s movement. They forced Palmyra to use its backfield deep into their 25.

That was in response to the first-half pressure coming from Palmyra’s center back, Olivia Kirkpatrick. The Liberty University commit was reading Hershey’s plays like she could recite their playbook.

She intercepted passes at the 50 to put the heat on Hershey’s defense and helped to resume the Cougars’ offensive attack.

It wasn’t just Kirkpatrick showing off why Palmyra, up until Hershey, hadn’t lost a game in 2022. The Cougars had a well-organized left side approach.

Senior Alaina Bryan, and juniors Liv Gain and Keely Bowers setup a defined passing triangle that had Hershey’s players scrambling to defend.

But it was the Allery goal that activated junior Anne Gardner. Gardner had already been speedy in the first half. She seemingly, though, managed to increase her adrenaline in the third.

She ran often in twos, mostly with Cara Cronin or Roma Orris.

“It’s like a family really,” Allery said. “If you get beat, you have somebody right behind you. If you succeed, they’re with you. They’re behind your back.”

Joyce Tao was one of those players. She went along with Gardner to the circle on a run, where she passed the ball to Gardner.

Gardner’s comfort level has reached new heights. She’s adopted a mantra to shoot and shoot often.

“I don’t believe that just happened,” Gardner said about scoring the winning goal. “It feels like the Lower Dauphin win. I’m happy.

“Honestly, I was just taking the shot. I don’t even know if I was in front of the goal. I just kind of swung it. I mean, it’s amazing. I honestly never thought we would beat them. I just came to play hard. It was the effort and the attitude. I wanted to win and I wanted to hustle. Every single person on our team contributed to that win. From the defense to the forwards, we’re just improving every game.”

Every time Hershey gets the ball, they are seeking options and opportunities, Tao said.

“I think everybody’s energy was super high,” she said. “Everyone was looking to connect and really play as a team. And we were just able to find each other.”

There was a crescendo to Hershey’s endless supply of energy. When they had possession, they didn’t want to waste it, Tao said. That was most important in the fourth. Palmyra tried to score the equalizer.

“We were thinking to just take a breath and really stay composed,” she said.

Palmyra prevented the shutout when Bowers scored on a smashing shot in the third, too. She was able to capitalize on a corner.

“Hershey took advantage of their opportunities,” Palmyra Head Coach Kent Harshman said. “We did not.” 

Bowers goal wasn’t enough to force the game into overtime. Palmyra is now 9-1-2. Hershey is 8-2.

Palmyra tied in two conference games: Lower Dauphin and Mechanicsburg. In addition to losing to Palmyra, Hershey also lost to Mechanicsburg.  

“We know that our league is really competitive,” Hershey Head Coach Savanna Lenker said. “We said at the beginning of the season we have to be able to beat Lower Dauphin and Palmyra,” she said. “Check, check. And I don’t think it gets any easier from here, but that’s just the mental element of what’s possible. We have done it and we can continue to do it. It’s just knowing the kind of caliber it’s going to take.”

Trojans: 2

  • Goals – Allery (1), Gardner (1)
  • Assists – Shultz (1), Tao (1)
  • Shots – 5
  • Penalty Corners – 3
  • Saves – Kylie Mullen (9)

Cougars: 1

  • Goals – Bowers (1)
  • Assists – 0
  • Shots – 9
  • Penalty Corners – 11
  • Saves – Lambert (3)
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