‘This is the decider for this season,’ Lower Dauphin’s Avery Pollock on defeating Conestoga in semifinal overtime victory

Conestoga’s effective transfers worked for a large part of its game against Lower Dauphin Wednesday, until Avery Pollock stepped up to stop the most important one of the night.

Pollock, in overtime, intercepted a pass outside the Pioneers’ circle. Pollock sped up in the passing lane, got the ball on her stick, carried toward Conestoga’s Alex Lepore and scored.

“We’ve been doing a lot of 1 v 1s in practice, too,” Pollock said. “And I know that this is a really good goalie, and I knew that I needed to beat her with a pull and then just look up and find the cage.”

Lower Dauphin won 3-2 in overtime. The Falcons will play Wilson Saturday in the 2022 PIAA Class 3A championship. Conestoga ended its season 20-3.

Stoga was the District 1 No. 2 seed. The Falcons were the No. 1 seed out of District 3.

Pollock, who is best under pressure, had a defender on her.

“We came off before the start of overtime, and we were like, ‘Alright, this is the decider for this season,’” Pollock said.

Lepore, a Temple University commit, had been on the receiving end of the Liberty University commit’s shots all game.

“I was kinda like, ‘Oh God, if I miss the cage, then it’s going to be the end,’” Pollock said with a laugh. “But it was awesome to get it into the cage and win.”

It wasn’t the only shot taken in overtime.

Conestoga senior captain Kate Galica went out swinging. She received a pass from sophomore Shae Wozniak and then sped down the right. She entered the circle and challenged Falcons goalie Payton Killian to a 1 v 1.

Killian went down for the save. Galica rebounded the ball, as Killian was getting back up, and Galica ripped another one. The shot went wide right.

“They had a breakaway, and our goalie made an outstanding save because that could’ve been over there,” Lower Dauphin head coach Linda Kreiser said. “I told the girls, ‘They have a really good team, we have a really good team, it’s going to be a great matchup.’”

And if anyone knew the Lower Dauphin girls could finish what they started in regulation, it was Kreiser.

“Our seven we put out there are very confident, and they were excited to go to overtime, because they think they have a chance to win,” she said. “That belief goes far when you’re playing a sport that you believe that you’re going to do well in, so I think that helped us.”

Lower Dauphin got on the scoreboard first in regulation with a goal from Dani Murphy. Murphy got her stick on a rebound from a Stoga defender with 4:35 left in the first quarter and one-timed it into the cage.

“I knew they’re capable of scoring, and I know we’re capable of scoring,” Kreiser said. “I definitely didn’t think it would be a shutout, but it’s always nice to score first, and then they have to catch up.”

It took the Pioneers exactly 3 minutes to retaliate.

There were 95 seconds remaining on the clock when Galica scored.


Lower Dauphin came out strong in the second, adding a tally from senior and Michigan State University commit, Brynn Shaffer.

“Avery took it across on the left side of the cage, and she centered it, and our right midfield, Brynn Shaffer, was there,” Kreiser said. “She hit it, it hit the post, and then she followed it up and put it in.”

Lower Dauphin held a 2-1 lead over Conestoga for about two quarters until the Pioneers answered late in the third.

It was Galica finishing again with an assist from Wozniak, who was a huge Stoga playmaker during the game.

“I knew it would be an excellent game because having scouted Conestoga, they’re an outstanding team,” Kreiser said. “I had no idea how fast they were until I was down here on the field because you knew that they were really good, but they’re extremely fast. They’re good at moving to the ball, and their passing game is really nice. We had to make sure we kept the ball out of the middle because that’s where their strength was, and when we could do that, we were more successful.”

In the fourth, emotions were running high. Overtime wasn’t ideal, and both teams fought for possession and attack opportunities.

Three-and-a-half minutes in, Pollock sat out for five minutes. She was given a yellow card warning for being physical.

Then, 12 seconds later, Katelyn Strawser joined her with her own yellow card for a flagrant stick tackle. It was Strawser’s second of the game having already been given a green card in the second quarter.

“Oh, I was in tears,” Pollock said. “I was really upset. I knew that they’re a really good team, and they have such great breakaways, and I knew that players down, they were really gonna capitalize off of it. So it was really nerve-wracking.”

Conestoga had an 11 v 9 advantage for a little less than five minutes when Wozniak was also green carded with 9:08 on the clock for being physical.

Lower Dauphin’s players remained tight and more determined with two of their players absent.

The Falcons kept their circle clear of any attacks, and when the cards were up, the team of Strawser and Pollock was already creating havoc in Conestoga’s defensive circle within seconds of being back on the field.

In under a minute, they created two separate attacking opportunities for Lower Dauphin, but nothing resulted in a goal until Pollock’s overtime tally.

Conestoga nearly had a goal, but an offensive foul was called first, causing a free hit coming out of the circle instead. Stoga gained momentum in the last 90 seconds of regulation, but it wasn’t enough to finish anything before overtime.

Lower Dauphin walked away with its fourth overtime victory of the 2022 postseason.

“We’re so excited for states,” Pollock said. “It’s just awesome. The only word I can use to describe it is awesome.”

The win earned the Falcons a place in the 2022 PIAA state finals against a very familiar team.

In the other 3A semifinal game, Wilson, also a District 3 school, upset Emmaus 2-1. Emmaus was the No. 1 ranked seed from District 11. The Green Hornets had an amazing season, having gone undefeated until the semifinals.

The State final matchup is a repeat of the District 3 Class 3A final. Lower Dauphin won, 3-2 in overtime.

“We have a lot of respect for them, but we know how they play, and they know how we play, so I think there’s going to be a lot of changes,” Pollock said of Wilson.

The last time Lower Dauphin won the Class 3A state title was back-to-back in 2012 and 2013. Since then, the Falcons have made final round appearances in 2018, 2019, and 2021.

“I just know it’s going to be a great game,” Kreiser said. “I honestly thought we might see each other again when I watched the District (3 Class 3A) final. It happened in 2019, and now it happened again in 2022, because we met in states and went to shootouts. So, it’s going to be a fantastic game. I think both teams match up well. Their strengths and our strengths are very similar, so it’s going to be who has the better day.”

Falcons: 3 OT

  • Goals – Murphy (1), Shaffer (1), Pollock(1)
  • Assists – 0
  • Shots – 10
  • Penalty corners – 4
  • Saves – Payton Killian (9)

Pioneers: 2

  • Goals – Galica (2)
  • Assists – Wozniak (1)
  • Shots – 11
  • Penalty corners – 10
  • Saves – Alex Lepore (7)
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