ANNVILLE – It was an odd, almost opposite, twist on the age-old tale of the dutch boy placing his finger in the dike in order to save the town.
Only in this version, it was the Little Dutchmen applying the pressure to a dam made of Cedar. The leak was only a minute one, but it was enough of a crack to make a difference in the outcome.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Annville-Cleona field hockey team’s persistent pressure on the Lebanon High cage ultimately yielded a 1-0 Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three triumph over the Cedars. It was the case of a good team finally cashing in on numerous, generated chances, while the other was doing its best to hold it off and hold on.
Alex Siebecker’s goal with 3:27 left was the fruit of the Little Dutchmen’s labor and proved to be the game-winner. To that point, goalie Kasey Frantz and the LHS defense had turned away every Annville-Cleona foray.
The win moved the Little Dutchmen to 5-2 overall and 4-2 in the section, and continued one of their most successful seasons in recent memory. The loss dropped Lebanon to 0-8-1 on the year and 0-5 in Section Three.
“You’re hopeful that happens,” said Annville-Cleona head coach Sue Felty, who took a timeout three minutes prior to Siebecker’s tally. “The more opportunities you take, the better the chance you are going to have to score. We’ve been struggling to score. They (her players) were trying, but I think they hit a point where they didn’t know what to do because it wasn’t working. They couldn’t figure out what needed to happen.
“It wasn’t a lack of effort,” Felty continued. “The offense needed to be played differently. We talked about a control game. It seemed like the harder we tried, the worse it got.”
“I thought there was a lot of transition play,” said Lebanon head coach Terri Johnston. “At the end, I was basically playing with three defenders. But the odds are against us if we continue to give them opportunities. To lose 1-0 to Annville-Cleona, I’m really happy with that.
Siebecker’s goal originated from a corner play initiated by Meredith Bachman. She inserted a ball to Lauren Corle, who gave it back to Bachman.
Instead of shooting, Bachman tried to slide the ball across to Siebecker in the middle of the circle. The ball ultimately reached Siebecker through a maze of players, and although Siebecker didn’t get all of her drive, she got enough of it to roll it inside the right post.
“I think it hit some sticks and pads, and Alex was able to push it in there,” said Felty. “It was supposed to go to Lauren and back to Meredith, and Meredith was supposed to put it on the cage. Meredith was doing a nice job of coming up through (on the rush), and she seemed to be fired up and aggressive.
“It’s not like we played poorly,” added Felty. “It just didn’t seem like we were ready to play. Lebanon was ready to play. But it took us a while to get going.”
“I don’t remember a whole lot,” said Johnston. “I saw it banging away. On the first shot, one of their kids got a deflection. Once it got to the right side of the circle, I really didn’t see it. To have a shot at winning at the end of the game, I’d always like to be in that position.
“I was extremely happy with the way we played,” added Johnston. “I felt we were in the game the whole time. I thought we were very competitive. I don’t think I could’ve asked anything more of my kids.”
Annville-Cleona spent the majority of the first half in the Lebanon end of the field, and got off 12 shots before the Cedars recorded their first. Frantz was a rock for the Cedars in goal, and was helped by two defensive saves from teammate and back Averie Watkins in the second half.
“She was sort of my player of the game,” said Johnston of Watkins. “She really did a good defensive job. I thought I had a really good consistent play from my team.
“I feel like they (the Little Dutchmen) have a good transition game,” Johnston continued. “There’s something about a team that scores. There’s an expectation to score. That’s something our team lacks. When they (the Little Dutchmen) transfer the ball from defense to offense, they have people who know what to do with it. I felt like today our defense interrupted some of that.”
“They played really well,” said Felty of the Cedars. “I told the girls, ‘They’re (the Cedars) beating us to the ball.’ They wanted it. Give them credit. They had been struggling.
“Those two defensive saves were big,” Felty continued. “Those would’ve been goals.”
Annville-Cleona held a 17-3 advantage in shots on goal, and a 12-3 margin in penalty corners. Little Dutchmen cage guardian Tori ByDeLey logged two saves to record the shutout.
“I think this team is pretty good at looking at game-by-game,” said Felty. “Things change all the time. You can’t look too far ahead. I don’t think our goals have changed since the beginning of the season. It would be nice to make the playoffs at the end.
“I think our younger players have stepped up big,” Felty added. “Not knowing how they would perform was in question. When you see some of the things they do, you think they’re still learning. I’ve been pleased with the play of the underclassmen, for sure.”
“My kids have a heart for the game,” said Johnston. “I never question their heart on the field. But our skills aren’t always the same as the other team on the field. It’s not a lack of effort, but we’re not on the same level as some teams.”
“We know we’re playing from behind,” Johnston added. “Like many schools, my numbers are low. We lost ten seniors, so we’re a young team. We knew we were going to take our lumps. I feel like we have wins in our season. I really believe we’re capable of some wins.”
LEBANON SPORTS BUZZ
Field Hockey Rankings
2. Cedar Crest
5. Northern Lebanon
6. Lebanon High