‘I could really feel a lot of pressure,’ Lower Dauphin’s Avery Pollock on competitive 2-0 win over Red Land

The Red Land field hockey team used “insane” tactics Tuesday to try to beat Lower Dauphin, which didn’t seem so crazy in the end.

“I told the team to bring your guts,” Red Land head coach Heather Wolfe said. “Let’s see how we do with one of the top teams in the country.”

Lower Dauphin, ranked No. 19 nationally and No. 9 in Pennsylvania by MAX Field Hockey, recorded the 2-0 home win. The Falcons are 7-1-1 and the Patriots are 4-5. They are part of the Mid-Penn Conference Keystone Division in District 3.

The Patriots’ September 26 strategy: do not allow Avery Pollock to score.

“You have to honor great players,” Wolfe said. “There’s a reason the Pistons had the Michael Jordan rule. That’s why the Pistons were so successful. We took them into the fourth. We really came out with a different game plan. We relied on some basketball strategy. We played 10-on-9 and fought for a long time.”

Pollock, a junior and Liberty University commit, was marked the entire game. In the first contest between the teams, Pollock scored 3 early goals. The final was 3-0 Lower Dauphin.

This time, the Patriots held the Falcons to 2-0, but it included a stroke.

“The stroke happened,” Wolfe said. “I’m still trying to figure that one out. But look, it happened. It was what it was. We were down 1-0. It was a great game. Great game for us for sure. Our players were more disciplined. Hats off to Lower Dauphin. They are what they are advertised to be. Kudos to our kids who kept fighting.”

Katelyn Strawser, a junior, earned the stroke call. It was her first stroke of the season making her record 100 percent. The call was made when Strawser was attempting to take a reverse shot.

“I thought I had the shot but the girl was right on me,” Strawser said. “I thought it was going to be a corner, but it was a stroke.”

The player who earns the stroke doesn’t necessarily have to take the shot. Strawser said she felt “lucky” and “grateful” to have been picked.

“I’m glad we were able to score on it because I know we were definitely struggling to score,” she said. “Definitely didn’t come out the way we wanted it to, but we got the job done. I guess at the end of the day, that’s all we could ask for. But just going to come out harder next game.”

It was Pollock who gave the Falcons the extra insurance, also late in the fourth. Somehow, she still managed to score unassisted.

“The first and fourth, I could really feel a lot of pressure,” she said. “It was harder for me to get shots off. We needed to work on small passes and plays in the circle.”

Shots were hitting post and bouncing off the goalie, Pollock said. After a scoreless first half, the Falcons started to rev up its think tank to find a solution.

A significant change in the back, which didn’t have a loud impact, was the Falcons’ keeper. Younger sister of starter Payton Killian, a senior and Millersville commit, Kai, stood in cage in the second, third and fourth quarters. She held her own, maintaining Lower Dauphin’s defensive presence.

As the fourth got underway, the sophomore didn’t see much action. The Falcons had a chat reset during the final 2-minute break.

“We talked about pinching in a lot from all over the field,” Pollock said. “When we started off, we were spread out. So, we started pinching in and working the ball together up the field. I think the third and fourth quarters, we really picked it up to get the ball up the field.”

Additional strategy was moving Pollock from right to left forward. The Falcons dug deep into its bag of tricks.

“Whenever I got the ball, instead of stopping it, I was just going with the ball,” Pollock said. “I knew they would crash. There were girls on me – two or three – when I had the ball, but then that opened up opportunities for my teammates.”

That change allowed Pollock to move the ball on the forward line with Strawser and Emmy McCulley, a senior and Penn State commit.

“Red Land came ready to play, without a doubt,” said Lower Dauphin’s interim head coach Erin Catalfalno. Catalfalno is speaking on behalf of Linda Kreiser, who is in South Africa to play in the 2022 Masters World Cup.“ They played an excellent game. It took us until the fourth quarter to really figure out our game plan and put it all together.”

The 2022 Falcons team is working on its “mental game,” Catalfalno said.

“They have the physical capabilities, they have the skills, they have the talent,” she said. “So, it’s putting it together mentally so they can work together as a team and execute what we have been practicing.”

Lower Dauphin has a packed schedule coming up: Mechanicsburg, Hershey, Palmyra, and Cumberland Valley in that order.

“One thing we’re really emphasizing, the second half of the season is our second effort,” Pollock said. “Really just the second we lose the ball, we gotta get it back or we’ve gotta help our teammates get it back. Even though we didn’t win our Palmyra game, East Pennsboro and this game, our defense has been playing really good. I think if we keep it up, we’ll continue to get the shutouts.”

Falcons: 2

  • Goals – Pollock (1), Strawser (1)
  • Assists – 0
  • Shots – 9
  • Penalty corners – 7
  • Saves – Payton Killian (3), Kai Killian (1)

Patriots: 0

  • Goals – 0
  • Assists – 0
  • Shots – 4
  • Penalty corners – 3
  • Saves – Josie Ickes (7)
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