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IMG_8028BY JEFF FALK

FREDERICKSBURG – Elco-Northern Lebanon always matters – a lot. But this year, it may matter more.

On a toasty Tuesday afternoon at Northern Lebanon High School, what mattered most was Abbie Keath’s goal 3:10 into overtime that gave Elco a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Vikings, in a well-played, hard-fought Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three tussle. Keath’s game-winner was a bit of redemption, because it came after she had been stoned by Northern Lebanon goaltender Emalee McCracken on two breakaways earlier in the extra session.

Off a free hit, Keath again found herself one-on-one with McCracken, with the ball on her stick. But this time, she juked the Viking netminder, went hard left with a stick-handle and then deposited the ball into the open goal for the game-winner.

IMG_7916Keath’s move settled a struggle between two Lebanon County field hockey programs on the upswing. The Raiders and Vikings are both contenders in Section Three and each entertain postseason dreams.

The outcome left Elco 4-0 overall and 4-0 in Section Three, and Northern Lebanon 4-2 on the fall and 3-2 in the circuit.

“The key to that was continuing to push,” said Elco head coach Lisa Kercher of Keath’s walk-off tally. “She went down one time and was stopped by the goalie. She went down a second time and was stopped by the goal. The third time was the charm. She kept having at it. She’s a never-give-up kind of girl.

“Overtime always takes a little out of you,” continued Kercher. “You’re going 110 percent after having given 100 percent all game. But they (her players) know the rewards of it.”

IMG_8033“They (the Raiders) got somewhat of a fast break,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Ronda Sowers. “The first time the goalie challenged her (Keath). But she learned from that, hesitated and went around her. It was text book.

“I thought my kids played well. They were possessing the ball and talking, ” Sowers continued. “What it came down to, when you play that caliber of field hockey, you’ve got to do it for 60 minutes. Eleven of us need to go 110 percent for 60 minutes. I’m not sure that happened, But my kids played hard and they battled.”

Elco enjoyed two different one-goal advantages, but each time Northern Lebanon found an answer.

The goal that ultimately sent the game to an extra session was scored by Viking Michele Lutz, 9:40 into the second half. Off a corner, Lutz redirected a feed from Carrie Shuey inside the near-post.

The Raiders had enjoyed a 2-1 halftime lead thanks to Keath’s first goal of the game, with 6:27 of the first half remaining. Keath soloed in on McCracken from the right, and waited for her to commit before sliding a low ball to the far side.

“I think with us, Annville-Cleona and Northern Lebanon, we’ve always had each other in our sights,” said Kercher. “It’s always been about those rivalries. All three of us had high hopes coming into the season.

IMG_7848“I feel for them (the Vikings),” added Kercher. “One flip of the coin and it would’ve been us. We knew coming in this would be difficult. We believe we’re number one in the section, or number two or number three. They (her players) did what they needed to do.”

“You always want to beat Elco,” said Sowers. “We’ve had some unfortunate outcomes against them. I think this is the third year in-a-row that our home game with them has gone to overtime. We understand what it’s going to take to battle in the section, and what it’s going to take to beat teams like Elco.

“It (expectations) certainly has changed,” Sowers added. “We’ve evolved to the point where the kids aren’t happy with this. At this point, the expectation is not just to hang.”

Elco needed just 28 seconds of game clock to jump out to a 1-0 lead.

IMG_7768Off the opening tap, Raider Alicia Yoh dribbled the ball through the heart of the Viking defense and got off a good shot that McCracken made a nice save on. But teammate Cherish Weaver was trailing the play, picked up the rebound and wristed it into the unattended cage.

“We came out strong,” said Kercher. “Then we sat back for ten minutes, and that’s when they (the Vikings) stepped up. Then we dominated the last ten minutes of the first half. It was back and forth, back and forth. We couldn’t get too comfortable.”

“They (the Raiders) got this crazy goal at the beginning,” said Sowers. “I’m not even sure how it happened. But my kids responded so well. They battled back. They played with so much intensity. I thought we had a little bit of a letdown after they (the Raiders) scored their second goal. But at no point in time did we give in.”

IMG_7807The Raiders’ 1-0 edge lasted all of seven minutes, before Shuey tied the game for Northern Lebanon. From a corner, Shuey accepted a pass from Lindsay McFeaters in the circle, spun and hit a reverse shot into the far side of the cage.

“Clearly number 16 (Shuey) is their heart and soul,” said Kercher. “She’s got skills. She’s great. We knew that and we manned her up. We knew we had to do it.

“Coming into the season, we felt Northern Lebanon was our toughest competition,” Kercher continued. “We saw their loss on Friday night against Lancaster Catholic. Everybody’s beatable, but we sort of fed off that.”

“They (the Raiders) had a few kids who did a really nice job of stepping to the ball,” said Sowers. “They did well in the midfield. I thought it was a good battle. I think the teams are more similar than they are different.”

IMG_7888The final stat sheet saw Northern Lebanon out shoot Elco 8-6. The Raiders took seven corners compared to the Vikings’ six.

“Sure it’s still early,” said Kercher. “But looking at our section, we feel we’re in a pretty good place. We know we’ve got to play just as hard against Annville-Cleona (on Wednesday). We’re feeling OK, but we’ve got to keep going.

“We’re where we need to be,” Kercher added. “But it’s still early. We want to be section champs. The girls have had it in their sights since they were freshmen. Districts, leagues, a win in each of those, and the section. How awesome would that be?”

“The bottom line is: if we want to be at the top of the section, we’ve got to beat the teams at the top of the section,” said Sowers. “We’ve got to be able to finish against good teams.

IMG_7837“We’re senior-heavy. We’re relatively experienced,” added Sowers. “The expectations are high. We want to battle in our section and get to the top. I think we’re going to need a little bit more. But I think they’ve got it in them.”

 

 

 

 

 

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IMG_7992To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to https://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/photo-gallery/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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IMG_77492018 Elco Field Hockey Schedule

Date Opponents Results
9/05
6:00 pm
Octorara
at Elco
3
4
9/07
4:00 pm
Elco
at Lebanon
6
0
9/14
3:30 pm
Elco
at Pequea Valley
9
0
9/18
4:00 pm
Elco
at Northern Lebanon
9/19
4:00 pm
Elco
at Annville-Cleona
9/21
4:00 pm
Lancaster Country Day
at Elco
9/24
4:00 pm
Governor Mifflin
at Elco
9/25
4:00 pm
Lancaster Catholic
at Elco
9/26
4:00 pm
Elco
at Octorara
9/28
4:00 pm
Lebanon
at Elco
10/01
4:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Elco
10/02
4:00 pm
Lancaster Mennonite
at Elco
10/03
4:00 pm
Elco
at Lancaster Catholic
10/05
4:00 pm
Pequea Valley
at Elco
10/08
4:00 pm
Elco
at Lancaster Mennonite
10/10
4:00 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Elco
10/11
4:00 pm
Elco
at McCaskey
10/12
4:00 pm
Elco
at Lancaster Country Day

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IMG_79602018 Northern Lebanon Field Hockey Schedule

Date Opponents Results
9/05
4:00 pm
Fleetwood
at Northern Lebanon
3
6
9/06
6:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lancaster Country Day
4
0
9/07
4:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Octorara
6
0
9/12
4:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lebanon
6
0
9/13
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lancaster Catholic
1
2
9/18
4:00 pm
Elco
at Northern Lebanon
9/19
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lancaster Mennonite
9/20
4:00 pm
Pequea Valley
at Northern Lebanon
9/21
4:00 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Northern Lebanon
9/24
4:00 pm
Lancaster Country Day
at Northern Lebanon
9/28
4:00 pm
Octorara
at Northern Lebanon
10/01
4:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Elco
10/03
4:00 pm
Lebanon
at Northern Lebanon
10/05
4:00 pm
Lancaster Catholic
at Northern Lebanon
10/08
4:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Pequea Valley
10/10
4:00 pm
Lancaster Mennonite
at Northern Lebanon
10/12
4:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Annville-Cleona

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