MYERSTOWN – The first one always stings the most. But this one really hurt.
Still, all is not lost for the Elco field hockey team. A shot at redemption is right around the corner.
On a misty Monday evening at Elco High School, the Raiders missed out on a chance to clinch at least a tie for their second straight Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three championship, when they were edged 1-0 by the visiting Garden Spot Spartans. Garden Spot netted the only goal of the tightly-contested match early in the fourth quarter.
The loss was Elco’s first of the season and created a tie for the Section Three lead between the Raiders and Spartans. Elco is now 9-1 overall and 7-1 in Section Three, while Garden Spot improved to 7-1 on the fall and 7-1 in the section.
Back on September 29th in New Holland, the Raiders had beaten the Spartans 3-1. Both Elco and Garden Spot have two league contests remaining on their regular-season schedules.
Going into Monday’s match, the Raiders had outscored their opponents by a combined margin of 36-3. Elco was situated fifth in a District Three AA classification that takes eight for its postseason tournament.
Last season, the Raiders captured their first Lancaster-Lebanon section crown in 30 years.
“Elco’s a good team,” said Garden Spot head coach Katy Eby. “They’re speedy. They’re scrappy. They don’t give up on the ball. They go to the ball. Their corners are deadly.
“Coming in, they (the Raiders) were number one in our section,” added Eby. “This helps us in the standings. It gives us a chance. There’s some potential that we could make something of it, but I think we’re going to need some help. And this helps our district rating as well.”
Though there were certainly ebbs and flows throughout, when all was said and done it was a fairly even-played match. Perhaps the only difference was that Garden Spot capitalized on one of its opportunities.
That chance came 2:16 into the final period and originated from a minor scramble in front of the Elco cage.
Spartan Erin Gonzalez managed to gain control of a ball, and she slipped it to teammate Amelia Mercado. Going from right to left, Mercado slid the ball past Elco netminder Anissa Machamaer and into the goal.
“Erin dribbled in between two players,” said Eby. “It (Mercado’s) was a really nice shot. It was scrappy. I would’ve liked to have seen more goals, especially in the first half. I knew we had to take care of our opportunities. We told the girls to make the most of their scoring chances.
“I thought we played well,” continued Eby. “Everybody did their jobs, from the defenders to the midfielders to the forwards.”
Much of the game’s play occurred in the midfield. And while Elco may have enjoyed the better of the action early on, Garden Spot seemed to get stronger as the match wore on.
“They scored mostly on corners,” said Eby, of the earlier meeting between the two squads, at Garden Spot. “We kind of lost our cool with the refs that day. They got into our heads a little bit.
“Oh, for sure (the first match-up impacted the second one),” added Eby. “We changed some things in our lineup. I was really happy with our performance today. We played as a team. We played our game. We executed better.”
On the final stat sheet, Garden Spot posted a 6-5 edge in shots on goal. The Spartans were awarded six penalty corners compared to the Raiders’ two.
“It was a goal because we moved down from Section Two this year,” said Eby of the Section Three championship. “I did set it as an expecation. We have a senior-laden squad. I’m just super proud of this team.”
at Hamburg Area H.S.
at Garden Spot
at Conrad Weiser
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