BY JEFF FALK
PALMYRA – Palmyra field hockey is the premiere athletic program in Lebanon County. It doesn’t rebuild, it retools, reloads and reinvents.
And when it does, opportunities arise, and present themselves. It is a chance for new groups and individuals to not only carry on the tradition, but also to shine, within the parameters of the team concept.
On a dreary Wednesday evening at In The Net Sports Complex, the latest version of the Cougars continued to shape their own legacy, during a 3-1 triumph over previously unbeaten Red Land. Thanks to a pair of goals a minute apart midway through the second half, Palmyra opened a commanding 3-0 lead.
In the little picture, the result was significant in that Palmyra, now 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the Keystone Division of the Mid-Penn Conference, was coming off its initial setback of the season, a 3-2 loss to rival Hershey on Monday. In the big picture, it was another opportunity for the Cougars to grow together and get better.
Red Land slipped to 5-1 on the fall and 2-1 in the division.
“Our seniors really want to keep the tradition alive,” said Palmyra head coach Kristi Costello. “We have had great players and great teams who have graduated recently. Everyone on this team seems to enjoy each other’s company. So it’s interesting – same program, same tradition, but the personalities the teams take on are different.
“A month ago, we weren’t sure how we measured up to some of those other teams,” continued Costello. “I’m excited about where they are and where they can go.”
Some stick-to-itiveness produced the Cougars’ first goal, 10:31 in.
Off a corner taken by Mia Julien, Lauren Wadas got off a good hard blast from the top of the circle. But while the ball was in the pads of Red Land goalie Vicoria Hull, Palmyra’s Gabby Corricelli poked it in.
For Corricelli, it was her third goal of the season.
“I’m not pleased with our performance today,” said a slightly peeved Costello. “Red Land played a high intensity game, and we didn’t match that. That’s disappointing to me. We just didn’t play well. The girls would tell you that. We just haven’t had a lot of practice lately, and I’m looking forward to some.
“I don’t know,” Costello added. “You never know how high school students are going to take things. I was hoping it would be a factor that we lost (to Hershey on Tuesday). I think they (her players) know they can do a better job of communicating.”
Though Palmyra enjoyed the better of the play throughout, the outcome was very much in the balance halfway through the second half. But the Cougars struck for the eventual game-winning goal 12:08 into the stanza, on a play in the middle of the field.
Cougar Nicole Shank dribbled into the Patriot circle and shoveled a nice little feed to teammate Shayla Myers. From the center of the circle, Myers got off a quick wrister that beat Hull to the glove side.
“The first one was bouncing around, a rebound,” said Costello of the Cougar tallies. “The second one was a mishmash. The third one, we executed a corner. But I didn’t think we could find a rhythm or get into our flow.
“The character is made with games like this,” added Costello. “How do we respond to this? Red Land played a nice game. You have to give credit to your opponent. I don’t want to take anything away from them. They were very fast to the ball.”
The Cougars extended their lead to three goals 1:02 later, again courtesy of a corner play initiated by Julien.
Her insert found Shank at the top of the circle, and she slipped a similar shovel pass to Alexis Smith. Smith uncorked a drive that came to rest inside the right post.
Shank now has seven assists this season.
“We’ve had a really good season to this point, with this group,” said Costello. “Just the effort and the intensity was disheartening. Not giving 100 percent is not an option with me. I’m OK with mistakes, but not with a lack of desire.
“I have a young team and a lot of younger players who are stepping up,” Costello continued. “Our seniors are learning about big-game experiences too. Tonight we found a way to get it done.”
Red Land ended Cougar goalie Ava Kristich’s shutout bid with 5:46 remaining, on a Rachel Apa goal that was assisted by Molly Walter.
The Cougars out shot the Patriots 13-6, and Palmyra enjoyed a 15-5 advantage in penalty corners.
“Ava’s been doing a great job in the cage all year,” said Costello. “She’s made saves in every game we played. Tonight we were a little bit off. We need to work on our defense as a team.
“Overall, I’ve been pleased,” Costello continued. “Our team really wants to keep the tradition alive. They’ve been working very hard, working on skills. I love their desire to get better. I think a lot of people are stepping up. I have been pleased generally. I’ve had a lot of positive moments.”
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2017 Palmyra Field Hockey Schedule
|4:00 PM||W 7-0|
Owen J. Roberts
|3:30 PM||W 2-0|
|4:00 PM||W 7-0|
|10:00 AM||W 5-1|
|7:00 PM||L 2-3|
|4:00 PM||W 3-1|
|11:00 AM||Twin Valley High School|
|4:00 PM||In The Net Sports Complex, Palmyra|
|4:00 PM||Susquehanna Twp. High School|
|4:15 PM||Mechanicsburg High School|
|7:00 PM||In The Net Sports Complex, Palmyra|
|9:00 AM||In The Net Sports Complex, Palmyra|
|4:00 PM||Red Land High School|
|7:30 PM||Lower Dauphin High School|
|7:00 PM||Central Dauphin High School|
|5:30 PM||In The Net Sports Complex, Palmyra|
Palmyra Field Hockey
Championship History Since 1998
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
District III AAA Champions: 2015, 2016
1984 – ???
1991 – Ann Gruber
2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 – Wendy Reichenbach
2011, 2013, 2015, 2016 – Kristi Harshman-Costello
Pa State AA Champions: 2005
Pa State AAA Co-Champions: 2014
Pa State AA Runner-Up: 2007
Pa State AAA Runner-Up 2015
PA State AAA Runner-Up 2016