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Scoring in the first, second, and fourth quarters, Hershey redeemed itself Monday in its last Mid-Penn Conference Keystone Division clash versus Mechanicsburg.
“We knew, this game, we wanted to work as a team,” said junior forward Cara Cronin. “The last time we didn’t work well together. We weren’t able to score as much.”
Hershey moves to 10-2-1 overall, and 7-2-1 in conference. Mechanicsburg is 11-3-1 overall and 6-3-1 in conference. They split the teams’ two meetings. Mechanicsburg won the first game 2-1.
Cronin, who often accelerates toward goal carrying the ball, didn’t have as many breakaways as she normally does. But she scored twice and had one assist.
“We have a great team behind me that moves the ball up nicely,” Cronin said. “We can have great passes from mids-to-forwards.”
Hershey stepped up to set the tone. Senior Lauren Schulz inserted the ball to the top to junior Anne Gardner. Gardner smashed the ball at cage and a little to the left of Mechanicsburg’s goalie Alexandra Brady. Schulz was positioned on post, where she slammed the ball into the cage.
Two minutes into the second quarter, Gardner ran the ball into scoring position. She gave a buddy pass to Cronin, who passed across the cage, where senior Roma Orris hit the ball into the cage.
Nine minutes later, Cronin would be up again. She was running parallel to junior Riley Welsch. Welsch, carrying the ball, dodged several ‘Cats at a fast clip, hit the endline, and sent the ball across cage.
“We were really trying to make space in the circle,” Cronin said. “We were covering all the spots and had some very nice knock ins.”
Cronin helped Hershey really separate from Mechanicsburg just over two minutes into the fourth. It was another perfected Trojan corner.
The ball was inserted to the top. Senior Grace Allery passed to Cronin, who fired off a shot that squeezed into the lower left corner of the cage.
“I think we’re really getting better as a team,” Cronin said. “We’re all just so excited. We just want to keep winning one game at a time.”
The ‘Cats have depth all around the field. Their biggest obstacle was putting the ball in the cage.
“We totally dominated the third and fourth,” said Mechanicsburg Head Coach Tonya Brown. “Still, that’s no excuse. We have to be ready to play.”
Mechanicsburg’s corner opportunities were mostly in the first and third.
Before Hershey put up 2 points, the ‘Cats had back-to-back corners halfway through the first.
Allery, however, for the Trojans, had an exceptional night under pressure. She and Joyce Tao stood out defensively. Brown noted that Allery’s hits upset the ‘Cats plans.
“We let them long ball us too much there in the first half,” Brown said. “And we let them create two on threes, three on fours. We talked about not letting them get those long balls off. We didn’t let them get away with it in the third and fourth. But we have to take care of that. We have to have someone on the ball all the time with them because they can hit it and they found their open seams.”
Mechanicsburg was awarded four corners within two minutes nearing the end of the third. They couldn’t get a shot off. It was Allery once more who came up with the ball and sent it out of danger.
“We have good players, who could usually score that,” Brown said. “And they could just not score. They didn’t quit. They kept pursuing and kept pursuing. It just wasn’t our night to put the ball in the cage.”
While the game wasn’t lopsided in possession, Mechanicsburg’s defense came up big several times. Senior Casey Tyrrell carried the ball out of the back field a half-dozen times throughout the game, and Brady had a pro-like slide tackle in the fourth.
Hershey was prepped for the game. The Trojans didn’t want a repeat of the last one.
“Watching film, we saw that we had opportunities in our attack circle that we couldn’t capitalize on,” Hershey Head Coach Savanna Lenker said. “We problem solved and figured out what went wrong.”
Hershey spread the field, which is something Mechanicsburg also did, but the Trojans were more effective at executing the use of its speed and space.
“The nice thing about playing such tough opponents throughout the season is that every team is preparing us to play for districts,” Lenker said. “We’ll see who we are getting as a draw. Our district as a whole is competitive.”
Lenker and Brown said no matter where they fall in the first round of the postseason, they aren’t going to underestimate their opponent.
“That first game is not a given,” Lenker said. “You have to show up every day.”
- Goals – Shultz (1), Oris (1), Cronin (2)
- Assists – Gardner (1), Cronin(1), Welsch (1), Allery (1)
- Shots – 7
- Penalty Corners – 4
- Saves – Kylie Mullen (1)
- Goals – 0
- Assists – 0
- Shots – 2
- Penalty Corners – 12
- Saves – Brady (2)