Lower Dauphin, Palmyra settle for a scoreless tie in first Keystone Division meeting

Lower Dauphin might be experiencing a few growing pains in the 2022 season, but one thing’s for certain, the Falcons have a steadfast goalie in Payton Killian.

Killian and Palmyra’s goalie Haleigh Lambert prevented their opponents Monday from scoring in a high-intensity match between two of the best programs in the Mid-Penn Conference.

The game went into overtime, where Killian made pressure look easy. Palmyra squeezed in four more corners during 15 minutes of sudden victory. The Cougars, even though they took 16 shots overall, couldn’t get past the senior Millersville commit.  

The Falcons are now 5-1-1 and Palmyra is 6-0-1.

Asked if she was fazed by the shots coming at her, Killian said, “absolutely not.”

“It’s nothing I haven’t seen before,” she said. “I have to be confident going out. If I’m not, who’s going to be?”

The intelligence of Palmyra’s players showed. They moved Killian. They brought her out of her cage. They shot and rebounded. Nothing.

Killian’s comfort zone is her entire circle. She’d approach players at or near the stroke mark, which is seven yards north of the cage. And even when they drew her out, she had an instinctive knack of knowing her angles. She either folded her leg to protect the posts or challenged players 1 v 1 by slide tackling or kicking the ball to a teammate or out of her circle.

“It’s technique I’ve been through, especially in those 1 v 1 situations,” she said.

Lower Dauphin’s team is in a slight rebuild. The Falcons graduated some of its most powerful leaders from the past three years in 2021, among them are Paige Bitting and Alexa Shaffer. Bitting plays at Duke and Shaffer plays at Michigan State.

The newer team is now at a transitional point, where Killian predicts, the Falcons are going to play like Lower Dauphin hockey.  

“We’ve been experimenting with a lot and I think after tonight, we’re all really gonna pull it together,” Killian said.

The game involved a tremendous amount of 1 v 1s. When a player would win it, the team they played on would regain momentum. It was seen in several battles between two Liberty commits – junior Avery Pollock for Lower Dauphin and senior Olivia Kirkpatrick for Palmyra.

Along sidelines, junior Brynn Shaffer for Lower Dauphin and senior Alicia Battistelli for Palmyra, they wouldn’t allow the other an inch.

The game’s gridlock was reflected in the final score. However, winning remains a top priority for both teams.

Palmyra has scored 40 goals so far this season to Lower Dauphin’s 21. And while a tie isn’t a full victory, for both teams it was a partial win.

“They want to win,” Lower Dauphin head coach Linda Kreiser said. “I think we’re definitely a work in progress.”

Kreiser said she was happy with how her team played. They are still ironing out different formations to see where strengths can be developed.

“I really am so grateful they are trying new things,” she said, later adding, “It’s like we’re trying to find out where the pieces fit now. They are open-minded and they’re getting better.”

The game was an “outstanding high school field hockey game,” Palmyra head coach Kent Harshman said.

“They are very skilled, particularly on the defensive side,” he said. “We’re not going to do a lot of things differently. We’re going to be working on our 7 aside corners so that the next time we go an extra session, we’re going to do some things different there. There’s nothing we can say to our kids but ‘congrats you played a great hockey game.'” 

The love of the game and ensuring that Palmyra performs as one team is what’s made 2022 such a successful start, Lambert said.  

She has full faith in her team that they will hustle back on defense when a Lower Dauphin player is sprinting toward her in a 1 v 1, she said.

“I love the intensity of game play,” Lambert said. “I feel great about our team. I think we’re playing great. I think we’re going to keep going into the postseason. And hopefully we bring back the gold.”

Cougars: 0

  • Shots – 16
  • Corners – 14
  • Saves – Lambert, 3

Falcons: 0

  • Shots – 3
  • Corners – 5
  • Saves – Killian, 16


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