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BY JEFF FALK

MYERSTOWN – It is one of locale’s most heated rivalries, in a sport that Lebanon County continues to make great strides. Now, some of the intensity may have been taken out of it by realignment, but it’s still Elco-Northern Lebanon.

Like any rivalry, there are ebbs and flows, it has gone back and forth.

On a sunny Tuesday evening at Elco High School, the hometown Raiders bested the Vikings 6-1, in the annual renewal of their field hockey hostilities. Elco set the stage for its impending rampage by opening a three-goal advantage 8:14 into their Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three-Four cross-over match-up.

Elco freshman Kailen Hibshman finished with a hat trick, while senior teammate Jessica Seidel netted a pair of goals, her fourth and fifth of the young season.

The result represented the Raiders’ second victory in as many outings this fall. For the Vikings, it was their season opener.

“Every game with Northern Lebanon is hard,” said Elco head coach Kelsey Thorley, whose side shared an L-L Section Three championship with Garden Spot in 2020. “They go hard. They hustle. I said to our girls that the skills are equal and that heart and desire is going to win it. They’re a solid squad. I understand the Elco-Northern Lebanon rivalry. It’s something to feed off.

“I thought we played well for our second game,” added Thorley. “We’re definitely improving on what they’re (her players) focusing on in practice. It was good to see them execute the formations we’re working on. I love seeing them finish balls, getting rebounds, being smart in the circle and getting corners.”

“I think Elco and Annville-Cleona are always great rivalries,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Ronda Sowers. “We love to hate each other. We always want to come out on top. Losses never feel good, but it hurts a little more to lose to a rival.

“We talked about that (playing Elco in their regular season opener),” continued Sowers. “They’re probably one of the top two teams we’re going to play this season, and we had to do it right off the bat. I don’t know if I want a rematch with them today or tomorrow, by maybe in October.”

Elco came out ready to play. The Raiders tallied a trio of goals in a five-minute stretch early in the first quarter, including scoring on their first two shots of the game, generated by their initial two corners.

Some 3:13 into the contest, Hisbhman took a right corner insert from Seidel, spun to shake a defender, and ripped a rocket into the Northern Lebanon cage. She posted her second tally moments later, knocking home a rebound.

Then, Seidel got into the act, off another carom, after Hibshman had carried a ball into the circle and gotten off a hard drive on Viking netminder Carla Martino.

“We focus on the first five minutes of the game,” said Thorley. “We focus on getting a corner in the first five minutes of the game, and we got a goal off that corner. We like to dictate the pace of the game. We spend a lot of time making corners productive. You have to make opportunities happen on corners.

“This was our first defensive challenge,” Thorley continued. “We’re working out some of the kinks. It’s a lot of learning and understanding the play in front of us.”

“They’ve got a power midfield attacking game,” said Sowers of the Raiders. “They kind of came out and punched us in the face, sort or speak. We weren’t expecting that. It felt as though they (her players) didn’t have the desire to be in the game. We clearly lost to a better team.

“We had seven kids who never played varsity before,” added Sowers. “We have to get better. We have to step to the ball. We have to come up with some sort of possession game where we’re passing to the good guys.”

With 5:46 left in the opening quarter, Northern Lebanon pulled to within 3-1 of the lead when Madison Brewer rushed into the circle and wristed a shot into the right side of the Raider cage. But 5:41 into the second quarter, Lauren Ferrari retaliated for Elco, on another rebound, from a ball that glanced off the crossbar on a corner play.

“It’s attack, attack, attack,” said Thorley. “They (the Vikings) scored and I told them (her players) that we can’t let down. No lead ever feels like enough. It didn’t feel like we had the lead. I was a hard, tough game.

“At halftime, I just told the girls to stay dialed in,” continued Thorley. “Knowing us and who our girls are, we had the momentum, but we had to keep moving forward.”

“I think the game plan was just to be in the game and be competitive,” said Sowers. “We have to pick up players bursting into our 25. We’ve got to win more 50-50 balls. We have to play to our strengths.

“They (the Raiders) have some really explosive, dynamic players,” added Sowers. “They had two really good players, but they also had great support. They hunted in twos. The team play they demonstrated was really terrific.”

Seidel registered her second goal of the game with 6:48 left in the third quarter on a short-side blast, before Hibshman completed her hat trick from a restart early in the final stanza.

“It’s a good start. We’re in a good place,” said Thorley. “Our motto is: ‘Pressure is a privilege.’ We’ve been trying to work through the mental piece of that. There are obvious expectations, but we lost nine starters from last year. We’ve put in a lot of time and practice and effort.

“For them (her players), the goal is to repeat as Section champs.” Thorley added. “There’s unfinished business from last year.”

“We need to play like it matters,” said Sowers. “I don’t feel we took pride in being competitive. It was a combination of us not doing our parts and them (the Raiders) being a very dangerous team. It would’ve been nice if we would’ve kept it a little close.”

Elco out shot Northern Lebanon 15-7. The Raiders held a 9-4 advantage in penalty corners.

To purchase images in this article please email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

2021 Elco Field Hockey Schedule

DateOpponentsOutcomes
9/03
4:00 pm
Elco
at Lancaster Country Day
5
0
League
9/07
4:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Elco

League
9/09
4:00 pm
Elco
at Lancaster Mennonite

League
9/13
4:00 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Elco

League
9/14
7:00 pm
Elco
at Garden Spot

League
9/16
4:00 pm
Lebanon
at Elco

League
9/18
TBD
Elco
at Muhlenberg

Nonleague
9/20
4:00 pm
Elco
at Solanco

League
9/22
4:00 pm
McCaskey
at Elco

League
9/24
4:00 pm
Elco
at Annville-Cleona

League
9/25
10:00 am
Elco
at Hamburg Area H.S.

League
9/28
4:00 pm
Garden Spot
at Elco

League
9/30
4:00 pm
Elco
at Lebanon

League
10/02
10:00 am
Solanco
at Elco

League
10/05
4:00 pm
Elco
at McCaskey

League
10/05
4:00 pm
Solanco
at Elco

League
10/08
4:00 pm
Elco
at Tulpehocken

Nonleague
10/14
6:00 pm
Elco
at Conrad Weiser

Nonleague

2021 Northern Lebanon Field Hockey Schedule

DateOpponentsOutcomes
9/03
4:00 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Northern Lebanon

League
9/07
4:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Elco

League
9/08
4:00 pm
Garden Spot
at Northern Lebanon

League
9/11
10:00 am
Northern Lebanon
at Lancaster Mennonite

League
9/13
4:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at McCaskey

League
9/14
4:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Susquehanna Township

Nonleague
9/16
4:00 pm
Octorara
at Northern Lebanon

League
9/20
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lancaster Catholic

League
9/22
4:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lancaster Country Day

League
9/24
4:00 pm
Lancaster Mennonite
at Northern Lebanon

League
9/25
10:00 am
Northern Lebanon
at Fleetwood

Nonleague
9/30
4:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Octorara

League
10/05
4:00 pm
Lancaster Country Day
at Northern Lebanon

League
10/07
4:00 pm
Lebanon
at Northern Lebanon

League
10/12
4:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lancaster Catholic

League
10/14
4:00 pm
Central Dauphin East
at Northern Lebanon

Nonleague

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