‘Their whole team was really strong,’ Palmyra’s Hadley Hoffsmith on defeating Penn Manor 4-2 in final home game of the regular season

Palmyra ended its regular season on a high note after scoring two late goals in Friday’s game against a tough Penn Manor opponent.

“I thought they were a good team,” said Palmyra sophomore Hadley Hoffsmith. “I think it was a good team to play before the postseason ahead of us.”

Palmyra finished in the No. 1 seed in Class 2A in District 3 with a record of 13-2-2. Penn Manor entered the contest in the No. 1 seed in Class 3A but now sits in the No. 2 spot. The Comets finish 15-3 overall. Wilson holds the No. 1 spot in Class 3A.

The final tally was 4-2 Palmyra with most of the scoring action occurring in the fourth. It was Hoffsmith who was first to break the ice. She scored on a corner, which for the Cougars were precise throughout.

“We’ve been practicing on our corners,” Hoffsmith said. “And we’ve just been trying to get them in the goal. And it was just, like, a team effort getting it in. It started with a good insert and then the nice tip of the ball. I just finished it.”

The Cougars scored three out of its four goals on corners. They had five the entire game.

Addison Sholly was a corner-creator machine. She helped her team earn the points by finding a foot inside the circle or forcing her opponent to obstruct her play.

Hoffsmith’s first goal was scored about 6 minutes into the first quarter. It was a hard hit from the top, which Comet keeper, Adeline Arkhurst blocked. The ball’s power caused it to continue rolling near the goal line. There was a brief scramble in front of the cage, where Hoffsmith collected the ball and scored. Keely Bowers was credited with the assist.

“I thought that, in the circle, in the first half, we were a little frantic,” Hoffsmith said. “But then I think we talked more, and we had sharper passes. We just focused on detail by detail.”

Penn Manor turned the pressure around on Palmyra 2 minutes later. Tristan Groff and Izzy Thatcher pounded Cougar goalie Haleigh Lambert. It was a quick back and forth in the circle that disoriented Lambert, earning Thatcher the goal and Groff the assist.


Halftime chatter made a difference. The teams both figured a few things out about the other and put them to the test in the third.

Stepping up strong for the Comets was midfielder Cait McGough. Not only does she have height, but she knows how to use it to her advantage. She laid out her stick several times preventing forward momentum for Palmyra.

And in the backfield, Annie Bibus helped organize the defense stopping Palmyra’s ability to set up shots and take them.

The Comets, however, fell short on a corner, where Hoffsmith again was positioned to score, making it 2-1.

Palmyra’s passing and ball movement in the fourth disrupted Penn Manor’s strong defensive line.

“Their whole team is pretty strong,” Hoffsmith said. “So, we just focused on our press and moving the ball, shifting as a group.”

The Cougars’ third goal came at 3 minutes into the fourth. Olivia Kirkpatrick came in from the top, smashed the ball toward goal, connected with Morgan Lantz – who was hanging out at post and in front of the goalie – and Lantz spun with the ball on her stick for the goal.

It was 3-1 for a few more minutes before Penn Manor wanted its chance for another. On a corner, Avery Bradburn sent the ball to the top for the Comets and Groff slammed the ball just to Lambert’s left into the cage.

Palmyra found its final goal on a polished corner. The ball was inserted to the top. The Cougars sent a pass to the goalie’s left just inside the circle, where Avery Russell ripped a shot and Bowers deflected the ball into the net.

“We worked really hard this season,” said Hoffsmith. “And we just want to take it one win in the season at a time. We all, we’ve been talking about playing for each other and like if someone’s having an off day, taking an extra step and getting them back up. It’s very positive this year.”

Penn Manor’s coach couldn’t have been any more pleased with how her girls worked.

“Overall, I thought the girls played well, played hard,” said Rachel Suter. “We were just unlucky in the ending score. Palmyra is a great team and we haven’t seen a passing team like that all year. Even though it stinks to lose, I think this was a good game leading up to postseason to see some tough teams. You have to play good teams to expose your weaknesses. And I think we’re taking a loss, but we’re also taking away learning experiences. It was perfect timing.”

Palmyra Head Coach Kent Harshman was equally as satisfied. He noted though that the Cougars created “unforced errors” mostly in the first half. He agreed that it was a good game to have before the postseason to help them determine how to play even better.

“This is a great opportunity going into the postseason,” he said. “To find out those things that you really need to work on because you’re not playing a 6 or 8 (to) nothing game, where everything goes your way. They have great kids. They’re well coached. So, I’m sure we both found plenty of things, maybe we need to shift this or that, or maybe we need to do a few things differently. I think this was a great end-of-the season game to find those things out.”

There were times when Palmyra wasn’t being “patient” enough, he said. The Cougars are going to spend some time working on their small game before the postseason.

“I think we worked the sidelines pretty well,” he said. “We were a tick off with our small game, really connecting stick to stick…But we were making little mistakes in our small game that was just not us. I think we got better as the day went on. We had spurts in the second half, where I thought it was great. Those last couple of goals, the movement was good and had the tips where we wanted them.”

Cougars: 4

  • Goals – Hoffsmith (2), Lantz (1), Bowers (1)
  • Assists – Bowes (1), Sholly (1), Kirkpatrick (1), Russell(1)
  • Shots – 15
  • Penalty Corners – 5
  • Saves – Haleigh Lambert (2) defensive save, team (1)

Comets: 2

  • Goals – Thatcher (1), Groff (1)
  • Assists – Groff (1), Bradburn (1)
  • Shots – 5
  • Penalty Corners – 3
  • Saves – Adeline Arkhurst (9)
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