BY JEFF FALK
MYERSTOWN – Draws become desirable results based upon two major factors – seasonal circumstance and the flow of play on the field.
Two sub-.500 Lebanon County field hockey squads fought to a scoreless tie yesterday, and both sides came away satisfied with the outcome.
At Elco High School on Wednesday afternoon, the host Raiders and visiting Northern Lebanon battled tooth and nail through 75 minutes of hockey – 60 minutes of regulation and 15 of overtime – and settled nothing. Neither team was able to crack the other’s defense and the Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three match ended in a 0-0 deadlock.
Even though the Vikings carried the play most of the afternoon, they experienced difficulties generating dangerous scoring opportunities. That is until the seven-on-seven overtime, when Northern Lebanon came up with three legitimate chances against the tiring Raiders.
The outcome made Northern Lebanon, which edged Elco 1-0 earlier in the year, 5-8-1 on the campaign and 4-5-1 in the section. The Raiders are now 4-9-1 overall and 3-7-1 in the circuit.
“We came to win,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Stacy Garber. “But I asked them (her players) to step on the field and give me 110 percent. We wanted to win, but more than that we wanted to play a good game. They played hard and they played together.
“I thought we played as a team,” Garber continued. “We had a lot of energy. We like to score and we had it in their end a lot. We had a lot of good chances. That’s what I asked them (her players) to do and they did it.”
“It’s better than a loss,” said Elco head coach Lisa Kercher. “And it’s definitely better than the last time we played them. We’re proud of the way the girls played. Both teams played well. Of course it was the pink game. We talked about playing for a greater cause. And I think that was in the back of their minds.
“We’ve gone into overtime in both of our games with Northern Lebanon,” continued Kercher. “And one of the games with Annville-Cleona went to overtime. We just don’t seem to come out on top when games go to overtime.”
Regulation ended with the Vikings buzzing around the Raider cage. And that momentum spilled into overtime, where Northern Lebanon out shot Elco 7-0.
“It’s a big increase in intensity,” said Garber of overtime. “There’s more space and the urgency is turned up a level. There’s a big mental component to it and there’s a conditioning component to it. Our girls know they have to go until they can’t go any more.
“We substituted a little in overtime,” added Garber, “but we don’t have many subs anyway. Some of the girls were required to play the whole 60 minutes, and 15 more.”
“The bench is standing up,” said Kercher of ‘bonus hockey’. “There’s just more energy, and there’s more energy on the field. There’s a sense of do-or-die. Unfortunately, neither of us did or died.
“My assistant coach and I were watching the entire time. Who’s tired. Who needs a sub,” Kercher added. “Sometimes they (her players) relay it to us. Overtime for us reminds me of ice hockey. There’s only seven out there and they’re all going as hard as they can.”
The Vikings enjoyed a 7-5 edge in penalty corners.
“Yep, we had some chances we just didn’t get it in,” said Garber. “We had great, great effort. It was there. You could taste it. Their (her players) passes looked good. One of our goals was to control the game. They (her players) were supposed to take the ball and control the tempo.
“They (the Raiders) play on their strong side,” Gerber added. “They try to work the ball up their strong side of the field. We had to work to switch the field. They (the Raiders) came out with a lot of heart today. We enjoy doing the pink game with them and raising the awareness of breast cancer. I know they put a lot of work into it.”
“I was actually surprised with them (the Vikings, given they have such small numbers,” added Kercher. “They have some girls who give it their all. And their goalie (Paige Stuppy) is talented.”
Axarlis logged 14 saves to register her shutout. Stuppy was credited with two saves.
“We’ve had a lot of things to overcome this season,” said Garber, whose squad was affected more by the move of girls’ soccer to fall than any other field hockey program in Lebanon County. “We knew there would be challenges. The girls who are here are here because they wanted to play field hockey.
“We lost three returning starters and most of our freshman class,” continued Garber. “We only have two freshmen. The switch with soccer has made us consider what we have to plan for field hockey in the future.”
“No, there’s no rivalry with Northern Lebanon,” said Kercher. “Coach (Garber) and I are pretty good friends. If we have a rivalry with anyone it’s with Annville-Cleona. I coached there three years and there’s always been a connection with them.”
“Last year, we had five wins, so we’re still looking for two more,” continued Kercher. “The year before we had four wins. I just want to see the girls end the season happy. When you have a losing season sometimes they don’t come away happy. Even though we’re not a winning team, I’m proud of them and they want to come away happy with each other. I just want us to end the season as a team.”