The Oley Valley versus Lackawanna Trail 2023 PIAA Class 1A championship game had all the drama.
Two penalty strokes. A solid back-and-forth. Unbreakable defense on penalty corners.
And, ultimately, a come from behind win that Oley Valley will probably be talking about for seasons to come. The Lynx prevailed in a pressure cooker contest against the Lions winning it 4-3 on a penalty stroke.
It is the third state title for Oley Valley. And, it was the first time Trail earned a medal in the Class 1A division. Lackawanna won gold in 1984 when they were in Class 2A.
The final Oley goal, a stroke made by Morgan Snyder, crystalized the victory for the Lynx with 3:43 left on the clock. The stroke was called when a clear shot wasn’t presented to the Lynx as multiple Lions sticks, as well as the goalie’s pads were effectively blocking the ball from crossing the goal line. The ball also appeared to bounce off a defender’s knee on the goal line.
Snyder, on the stroke, was able to effortlessly throw the ball into the net for the winning goal. Once the ball was back in play, Oley protected its possession and ran the clock down avoiding Trail’s chances of scoring one more goal.
Moments before Snyder’s game-winning goal was scored, Molly Rothenberger put all of herself into her shot. She was positioned just off post. The ball nearly crossed the goal line, but Trail’s defense swatted it out. Rothenberger collected the ball, spun around, and pushed the ball while she was off balance. She squeezed it in to tie the game 3-3 and then was dog piled by her teammates after she fell backwards onto the ground.
Those were just two shining moments in a game where both teams exhibited critical thinking and quick decision-making that is beholden to squads competing in a championship game.
Lackawanna was first on the board. Carolena Ryon, who has had a powerful offensive year, tapped in the first ball. Trail sailed an aerial down the field, Ryon collected it, ran to the baseline, and tapped it in the cage.
Ryon was also a force at the top of the second half, when after halftime she tore down the right side of the field, pulled the ball into the circle, and used a reverse Tomahawk to pound the ball into the cage.
Oley temporarily had to search within to find the same energy to match the fight Trail was pacing. The Lynx, who had a surge in the fourth quarter, were able to catch up and take home the gold.
Oley Valley 1-0-1-2: 4
Goals: Kadyn Rhoads, 1; Taylor Vaccaro, 1; Molly Rothenberger, 1; Morgan Snyder, 1
Assists: Vaccaro, 1; Lauren Habakus, 1
Penalty Corners: 16
Saves: Megan Schaeffer, 1
Lackawanna Trail 1-0-2-0: 3
Goals: Carolena Ry0n, 2; Tea Burns, 1
Penalty Corners: 3
Saves: Kiera Mulhern, 4; Payton Laytos, 7
Photo: Morgan Snyder, file photo (Bob Benscoter, November 2023)