BY JEFF FALK
HERSHEY – Sometimes its OK to just get through to the next day.
Sometimes good is alright.
Sometimes one goal is enough.
On a moist Tuesday evening at Milton Hershey School’s Henry Hershey Field, a battle-tested Palmyra field hockey squad grinded out a 1-0 victory over Mount Saint Joseph’s Academy, in the opening round of the PIAA Class AA postseason. The contest’s lone goal was scored by Cougar Mia Julian, on a deft tip-in, midway through the second half.
The triumph lifted Palmyra, the runner-up out of District Three, to 17-6-1 and into Saturday’s quarterfinal round of the state tournament, opposite District One champion Villa Maria Academy, at a site and time to be announced. The result ended the season for Mount Saint Joseph’s Academy, the third-place finisher out of District One.
“We didn’t have our A-game, but as they’ve done before, they fought their guts out,” said Palmyra head coach Kent Harshman of his troops. “Sometimes that heart wins out. We really wanted this game. We really played hard. I’m very proud of them for that.
“The reason this is important is that you only get one shot in the state tournament,” continued Harshman. “You’ve got to win to move on. I think Mount Saint Joseph and us both got a bad draw. The level of competition was probably better than a first-round state game.”
The goal that Julian scored came came off a corner play with 15:35 remaining. It was the result of a highly skilled redirection.
From the left portion of the circle Cougar Skyler Dise unleashed a drive towards the Mount Saint Joseph’s cage. Julian, positioned at the left post, got a piece of the blast and tipped it through a tight window between Magic goalie Maeve McCarthy and the short-side post.
It was one part talent mixed with one part good fortune.
“It was a great tip by Mia,” said Harshman. “It was a good shot by Skyler. Sometimes it goes your way. Neither team had a lot of chances. We couldn’t stop the ball (on corner plays).
“It’s (tipping field hockey balls) not precise at all,” Harshman continued. “You’re trying to make sure you have position on your defender. We talk about our stick being able to see the ball. But it’s not like an ice hockey tip because you can only use one side of your stick. But at that point, anything that changes the direction of the ball is a good thing, because it can fool the goalie.”
The Cougars encountered very few problems creating corner plays throughout. But they did experience difficulties generating shots off of them.
“Honestly, you get pleasure out of seeing all of them succeed,” said Harshman of his players. “But certainly our older players have stepped up. If your leaders are vocal, the younger kids will feed off them.
“The message at halftime was, ‘We’ve got to keep on doing what we’re doing,'” added Harshman. ” ‘We’re getting more corners than them. We’ve just got to clean things up. We’ve got to keep playing and hope for the best.'”
The Cougars were awarded five corners in the first half, but produced only one shot from them. On the other side of the field, Palmyra keeper Ashton Byrd and the Cougar defense were doing their part by limiting the number of Magic shots and their severity.
Palmyra finished with a total of 11 corners, while the shots ended up 7-6 in the Cougars’ favor.
“Some of it (the defense) is you’re scrambling,” said Harshman. “They’re (the Magic) a good team. They’re not going to go without a fight. They didn’t get here by accident. But our backfield played very solid.
“We had a great practice yesterday,” Harshman added. “The kids were really focused. It seemed like they knew about the distinction of one tournament (districts) being over and one tournament (states) beginning. This one is single elimination.”
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2018 Palmyra Field Hockey Results
Wyoming Valley West
|1:00 PM||W 4-0|
|11:00 AM||W 3-0|
|7:00 PM||T 0-0|
|2:00 PM||W 2-1|
|4:00 PM||W 12-0|
|3:45 PM||W 8-1|
|4:00 PM||W 2-0|
|4:00 PM||L 4-6|
|4:00 PM||W 6-0|
|12:00 PM||W 4-0|
|4:30 PM||W 3-0|
|7:30 PM||L 0-2|
|5:30 PM||W 7-0|
|6:00 PM||W 5-0|
@Wilson West Lawn
|5:30 PM||W 7-0|
|7:00 PM||W 8-0|
|11:00 AM||W 3-1|
|7:00 PM||W 4-1|
|3:00 PM||L 0-3|
@Mount St. Joseph
|5:00 PM||W 1-0|