Spring Grove carries attacking momentum in the second half to defeat Littlestown 3-2

Spring Grove’s last game of the regular season came down to the wire.

The Rockets fought hard. However, Littlestown’s Thunderbolts never lost its intensity.

After four quarters of competitive hockey, two timeouts, and one game-winning play, the score settled 3-2 in the Rocket’s favor.

“We knew that we were probably going to be pretty evenly matched,” Littlestown Head Coach Sara Lawyer said. “We knew they were going to be really pumped for their senior night, so we knew it was going to be a hard game.”

Of the two teams, Littlestown had the stronger initial start. The Bolts scored just four minutes into the game with a pass across the cage from Baily Rucker and a tip in from Ashlyn Rebert for the goal.

Spring Grove was barely affected.

“It was our senior night,” Spring Grove Head Coach Julia Baer said. “So (the game plan) was basically just to play for our seniors, connect, score early and often, and I think we did that.”

Their goal to retaliate came on the second of two consecutive penalty corners almost exactly two minutes after Rebert’s goal.

Rockets junior and midfielder Kendall Smith fired a shot past the Littlestown goalie, Taytum Lombardi, to make the game a 1-1 tie.

“At the beginning it was a little rough,” said Smith. “The game was getting better toward the end when we started connecting as a team.”

Baer agreed with Smith’s evaluation.

“I think we came out flat,” said Baer. “And they know that, they’ve heard it before. I think we came out flat and then we regrouped, and we had to learn to dig in a little bit. Hustle a little bit harder.”

Baer’s Rockets did just that when, a minute and a half into the second quarter, Spring Grove earned a penalty corner. The initial shot was wide, but the Rockets maintained momentum and were able to have another shot just 30 seconds later.

It came from outside the circle and was thought to be touched by Lilah Shaub before it crossed the goal line.

However, the goal was called back after it was determined the last touch came from outside the circle.

A fire lit under the Rockets, and they continued to be a major attacking presence the rest of the quarter. They earned four more penalty corners while ensuring Littlestown didn’t have the opportunity to earn any.

The tie remained through the half.

“There was a lot of want in the beginning of the game,” said Spring Grove’s senior center-mid, Gabrielle Etter. “Just not enough together as one group.”

That changed after Littlestown came out strong in the beginning of the third quarter.

The Bolts earned two penalty corners, forcing Spring Grove to take a time-out to re-evaluate and regroup.

“I think the talking-to got to us,” Smith said laughing.

With five minutes remaining in the third quarter, Etter started play at the 40-yard line with a pass across the field to Smith.

Smith carried the ball down the right sideline and fired a pass across the circle to the waiting sophomore forward, Ava Baker.

“Kendall assisted,” Baker said. “She was driving down the field and it hit off (my) stick and went into the goal.”

The set-up was straight from the Rocket’s playbook.

“Our midfield is super strong,” said Baer. “They’ve been carrying our team a lot of the season.”

The Rocket midfielder’s job is to “drive the ball up the field,” Baer said, and the forwards “tip it in and finish.”

The pass from Smith was deflected by Baker’s hit into the air and over Lombardi’s head to make the score 2-1 Rockets.

“We had lots of shots on goal,” Baer said. “They take what we do in practice, and they put it into a game.”

The fourth quarter began with another Rocket goal by Smith.

The midfielder battled through Thunderbolt defenders and managed to squeeze a shot past Lombardi to set the Rockets up by two goals.

“I dribbled down the field, somebody passed it to me, and then I got it around the goalie,” said Smith.

Immediately after the goal, Littlestown took their 90-second timeout.

Lawyer reminded her girls that “goals can happen in seconds” and “to keep their head in the game and keep fighting.”

It took Littlestown less than a minute after their timeout to put another tally on the scoreboard.


Baily Rucker fired a shot past the Rocket’s goalie, Caliana Schmidt, to bring the score to the final 3-2 Spring Grove.

Something Lawyer stresses to her program is having a good “hockey IQ.”

“That’s what we’re working on – is when the game is close there at the end not just hitting the ball,” Lawyer said. “Just being smart with the ball.”

Between the Thunderbolts’ goal and the final whistle, Spring Grove had a total of five penalty corners. The Thunderbolts had two.

“We realized that we had a lot on the line for not only our season and post-play, but for each other,” said Etter. “So, we shifted our momentum and our mindset, and it worked.”

Littlestown fell 10 minutes short, Lawyer said.

“It’s just putting those last couple of minutes together to avoid those breakdowns that happen when it gets really hectic in the circle,” she said. “Just kind of being smart with the ball, and if we put those last couple things together, we should be good for postseason.”

Baer knows what her girls are capable of. Sometimes, they need a reminder. “Tough love,” Baer calls it.

“We know what they’re capable of as a coaching staff, and they just need to be reminded that our goals are here, and you need to reach them,” Baer said. “You need to exceed them. And they do.”

Rockets: 3

  • Goals – Smith (2), Baker (1)
  • Assists – Smith (1)
  • Shots – 17
  • Penalty corners – 12
  • Saves – Caliana Schmidt (3)

Thunderbolts: 2

  • Goals – Rebert (1), Rucker (1)
  • Assists – Rucker (1)
  • Shots – 6
  • Penalty corners – 5
  • Saves – Taytum Lombardi (10)
Share the Post:

Related Posts