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York College came awfully close Wednesday to earning its first win versus Messiah University at Kinsley Field.
But it was the Falcons that hammered home the 3-2 win in overtime.
“I think this game showed our grit and how we play as a team under pressure,” said freshman Mallory Kline and Ephrata High School graduate. Kline scored the game winner.
Messiah moves to 10-2 overall and 5-0 in the Middle Atlantic Conference Commonwealth. York is 9-4 overall and 3-1 in MAC Commonwealth.
“All of my teammates were around me,” Kline said. “Everybody was like, ‘this one’s going in, this one’s going in,’ and it was just, kind of like, lucky me. I just threw the ball at the cage and hoped.”
Messiah had five corners in overtime. York had one.
And, that was pretty much how the entire game was played. Messiah held the edge in offensive stats – shots and penalty corners.
York, however, was more efficient with its opportunities. They had fewer chances of scoring and capitalized on them when they could.
“I felt like we had a lot of corners in overtime,” Kline said. “And it was obviously very different. We don’t ever practice, like, having five people on the circle.”
Kline described the game as “mentally tough.” There were nine cards issued. Kline was out of the game twice: two minutes for a green card warning and five minutes for a yellow.
“It was hard to have so many cards this game,” said Messiah Head Coach Brooke Good. “It was like a chess match. Like, how many players do we have out on the field? And how many do they have on the field? In the end, it was two great teams giving it their best effort.”
Halfway through the first quarter, the Falcons racked up two corners. The Spartans, however, had sophomore Riley Buschert. She tore out of the backfield, dodged two Messiah players, who had been trying to score, and returned the ball to York’s offensive side of the field.
The transfer of power didn’t last long as Messiah regained possession 40 seconds later. Kline scored on a bouncy shot that hit the lower right corner of the backboard.
The Spartans tied the game in the second. The goal began around the 50. The Spartans strategically got the ball on its strong side.
York College junior Sara Pique (Arundel High School, Md.) was outnumbered along the right sideline. Poised under pressure, she kept the ball on her stick pulled right, left, and split two Messiah players to find the through ball.
The ball was received and moved into scoring position, where junior Katie Martino (Hereford High School, Md.) sent the ball toward cage and Hannah Huffman (Cumberland Valley High School) finished with the point.
Ashlyn Smith, a senior and Newport High School graduate, scored next for the Falcons. She created space by taking the ball inside the circle, then out, and back in again before she ripped a shot.
The score at halftime was 2-1 Messiah.
York played more offense in the third compared to all of its first-half possession. The first half, the Spartans were able to deliver through passes and slow down the pace of the game.
York was managing Messiah’s break out speed and quick ballhandling skills by using smart engaging distance. They weren’t overcommitting, which is how the Spartans were able to catch up in the third.
Attacking from the left, the Spartans entered the circle, drew out Messiah’s goalie Catie Brubaker, got her to commit, leaving the goalie’s right side wide open. Huffman shot, rebounded, and then passed to Buschert, who scored.
Messiah’s offense worked York’s goalie Belle Fields in the fourth like she was a baseball pitcher. They ripped shots and had a series of consecutive corners, but Fields wouldn’t fold.
It was evident that the Spartans spent the fourth quarter fighting to keep the game going. And, they accomplished the mission.
“We’re excited about where the program is going and we’re so thrilled with the season we’ve had so far, but we’re hungry,” said York College Head Coach Katie Fost. “Like, we want more. And I think a big thing for our program is just pushing each other every single day to get that 1 percent better. We let them know how much they’ve helped this program evolve in the past five years. It’s absolutely incredible. We’re so proud of that. But one of the big areas that we’re going to continue to improve upon is being able to finally earn a win against such a great team like Messiah.”
Just a few days ago, the York College athletic community lost one of its own. A member of the men’s soccer team, 21-year-old Drew Ruehlicke, was found unresponsive in his dorm room. Messiah’s coach said she felt that the field hockey team honored his spirit in that game.
“This was like playoff-level field hockey against two phenomenal teams,” Good said. “So, we knew we had to bring our A-game. And, I will say with heavy hearts, knowing the challenges that the York community is facing, we knew we could honor them by bringing our best. And, truly, I said to the players afterwards, like, I’m so impressed with their integrity for wanting to play their best. It elevated both of our teams, so despite the trauma and tragedy they are facing, we played with integrity. The fact that York came out here and played the way they did, it was such an honor to him.”
Falcons: 3 OT
- Goals – Kline (2), Smith (1)
- Shots – 20
- Assists – Kelsey Heltzel (1) OT
- Penalty corners – 15
- Saves – 4
- Goals – Huffman (1), Buschert (1)
- Shots – 8
- Assists – Martino (1), Huffman (1)
- Penalty corners – 5
- Saves – Fields (14)