HERSHEY – Programs don’t win games. Players do.
But good players from strong programs playing together win championships.
On a fresh Tuesday night at Milton Hershey School’s Henry Hershey Field, the Palmyra field hockey team opened what it hopes will be an extended run in the state playoffs with an impressive 5-0 victory over Mount Saint Joseph Academy. The Cougars scored on their first three shots of the game, on their way to a 3-0 intermission advantage, then netted a pair of exclamation points early in the second half.
With senior stalwarts Mia Julian and Lauren Wadas showing the way, five different Palmyra players found their way into the scorebook. Julian tallied a pair of goals and as assist, and Wadas recorded a goal and an assist, as did teammate Maddie Hudson.
With the triumph, Palmyra, the recently crowned District Three champion, improved to 20-3 overall and advanced to Saturday’s quarterfinal round of the PIAA Class AA postseason, at a site and time to be determined. The result ended the season for Mount Saint Joseph Academy, the fifth-place finisher out of District One.
“It’s not just another group,” said Palmyra head coach Kent Harshman. “They’re all different. It’s their time. The group you have is the most important one at that time. We never compare groups. We try to mold each group to be as successful as they can be.
“We have an elementary program called ‘Weedwackers,'” continued Harshman. “We start them young. We start them as first graders. We’re teaching them tight skills and they learn how to share the ball, and we build on that foundation. They’re molded. You try to mold them a little more at each level. But at all levels we’re teaching.”
After The Magic registered the first two shots of the contest, it was all Cougars. And for Palmyra, it all began with Wadas.
With 4:07 of the game elapsed, Wadas dribbled the right baseline to the center of the Mount Saint Joseph circle. From there she unleased one of her patented reverse shots that beat Magic goalie Alyssa Brachelli to the right post.
“No, there wasn’t,” said Harshman of any lingering effects of Saturday’s District Three Class AA championship. “We had a nice time over the weekend. The focus from the start was good. I don’t like the turnaround from Saturday to Tuesday, with one practice. But we practiced well and we played well tonight, especially early. Their (the Magic’s) best player was out of the lineup. She was not here.
“The goal for this team is to win the state championship,” added Harshman. “We have talked about it as a team.”
Some 12:45 into the contest, Julian supported Wadas’ goal with one of her own. Sent ahead by a pass from Alexa Derr, Julian went left, got Brachelli to go with her and then flipped a shot against her body and into the right side of the goal.
Off a corner 4:07 later, Hudson made it 3-0 Palmyra. Julian’s insert went to Wadas at the top of the circle, and Wadas found Hudson on the left post, and Hudson knocked it home.
“I’m going to say we’re very good when we’re good,” said Harshman. “When we play, move the ball and don’t do things individually, we’re very solid. What we have this year is depth. We have people who come in and play, and play well. It’s a nice problem to have, as a coach.”
The Cougars notched a pair of goals in the opening 5:29 of the second half to push their advantage to 5-0.
First, Julian shuffled a pass from the center of the circle to teammate Abby Mateer at the left post, and Mateer slid it into the goal. Then from a corner, a rebound and a scramble, Julian converted a pass from Hudson.
“We play in the strongest division in the state, the Mid-Penn Keystone Division,” said Harshman. “We played all four of the Class AAA state qualifiers (Lower Dauphin, Hershey, Central Dauphin and Wilson), and they made up a third of our schedule. That prepares you well. I’m very confident.”
The final tally showed Palmyra out shot Mount Saint Joseph’s Academy 17-3. The Cougars also won the penalty corner war, 11-1.
|2019-09-11||A||vs||Mechanicsburg Area Senior(3)||W||10-1|
|2019-09-21||H||vs||State College Area(3)||W||9-0|
|2019-09-30||H||vs||Mechanicsburg Area Senior(3)||W||8-0|
|2019-10-02||H||vs||Berks Catholic School(3)||W||10-0|
Capital Division Champions of the Mid-Penn Conference: 2001 – 2009
Keystone Division CO-Champions of the Mid-Penn Conference: 2013, 2014
Mid-Penn Conference Champions: 2009
District III AA Champions: 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2011, 2013, 2019
District III AAA Champions: 2015, 2016
1984 – ???
1991 – Ann Gruber
2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 – Wendy Reichenbach
2011, 2013, 2015, 2016 – Kristi Harshman-Costello
2019 – Kent Harshman
Pa State AA Champions: 2005
Pa State AAA Co-Champions: 2014
Pa State AA Runner-Up: 2007
Pa State AA Runner-Up; 2018
Pa State AAA Runner-Up 2015
PA State AAA Runner-Up 2016