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Oct. 3, 2015 — No. 5 Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 1, Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 1; Episcopal Academy wins 3-2 in penalty strokes

HUMMELSTOWN, Pa. — There was plenty of talent on display at Kreiser-Hallman Stadium on the campus of Lower Dauphin Middle School for the championship final of the 2015 Falcon Classic. On both rosters were players chosen for Futures Elite, age-group national sides, and even the senior women’s national indoor team.

But stepping up to the penalty spot in the final round of a tied penalty stroke shootout for Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.), the No. 5 team in the Top 10, was a senior, uncommitted to a college, planning to major in marketing.

As such, Corinne Kneizys should be an unlikely heroine. But she coolly knocked the ball into the corner of the goal cage to give Episcopal Academy a 3-2 shootout win after a 1-1 draw in the championship final of the four-team Falcon Classic.

“I took my SATs today,” Kneizys deadpanned. “I figure I can do anything if I can finish standardized testing. I just wanted to score a goal and help my team win.”

The result was an historic occasion; for the first time in recent memory, Lower Dauphin didn’t win the Falcon Classic, which also saw Mechanicsburg Cumberland Valley (Pa.) and Wexford North Allegheny (Pa.) play in the tourney.

The result also represented a form of redemption for Episcopal Academy. It was 50 weeks ago when the Churchwomen stepped onto the field with another historically strong field hockey program from a large public school. And they were shut out 8-0 by Voorhees Eastern (N.J.).

“I think, during the Eastern game, that we felt had to do something different in order to win against a better team,” senior center back Maddie Bacskai said. “This time, we came out and played our game: simple passes, get the ball down the field.”

“We’ve learned,” Kneizys said, “how to be more constructive as a team. We focus on ourselves and how to adjust.”

That, they did. Bacskai, especially, was magnificent on both ends of the pitch. She was hard in the tackles, sure in possession, majestic in her touches, and even contributed in odd-man breaks by filling lanes.

“We had to keep our minds in the game and go out there with a lot of energy,” she said. “We felt as though we needed to stay low, finish our passes, and get our energy up.”

On the other end of the pitch, Lower Dauphin was equally adept at handling Episcopal Academy’s attackers. Rachel Yeager and Halle O’Neill (who were the only two Falcons to score in the penalty stroke shootout) were able to hold the ever-dangerous Margaux Paolino and Corinne Zannoli off the board.

“They’re a quick team,” Yeager said, “so we had to try to stay with them and get behind the ball, channeling them until we got double-teams from my teammates.”

Both sides found chances very few and far-between, meaning that they had to finish the few opportunities afforded them. Lower Dauphin found their goal off a flurry of penalty corners early in the second half, and Logan Gaughan, a pest on the left wing all evening, finished Yeager’s diagonal pass in the 35th minute.

As Episcopal is wont to do, however, it responded quickly. Colby Gallagher, beating two players in the left midfield, slipped a centering pass to teammate Maddie Rehak for the equalizer in the 38th.

From thence, however, Episcopal Academy carried the play. But Lower Dauphin senior goalkeeper Maddie Lilliock, who has played with a number of EA’s players on the WC Eagles hockey club, was equal to the task. Her highlight was swatting away a rising chip shot just two minutes into extra time that was heading into the top corner. She did, however, have to survive chances against Bacskai and Gaughan late in overtime that could have ended matters, plus an untimed corner at the end of overtime.

“It was fun playing against them,” Lilliock said. “At WC, it’s such high competition, and it’s fun playing against them instead of with them all the time.”

EPISCOPAL ACADEMY (13-0) 0 1 0 – 11001 — 2
LOWER DAUPHIN (11-1-1) 0 1 0 – 11000 — 1
LD: Logan Gaughan (Rachel Yeager), pc, 35th
EA: Maddie Rehak (Colby Gallacher), fg, 38th
Stroke goals: EA: Margaux Paolino, Corinne Zannoli, Corinne Kneizys; LD: Rachel Yeager, Halle O’Neill.
Shots — EA: 11; LD: 5. Saves — EA: Bridget Boyle 1, Caroline Kelly 3; LD: Maddie Lilliock 9, defensive 1.

POSTGAME That’s all for now; good night, good hockey

POSTGAME I think this game provides valuable experience to the goalkeepers in this game: Maddie Lilliock for Lower Dauphin, and Bridget Boyle and Caroline Kelly for EA

POSTGAME What an effort by two skilled teams! Either team could have won it in the last 20 minutes of regulation and overtime, though I thought the visitors had better chances towards the end

POSTGAME And that’s game, with EA winning the shootout 3-2 after a 1-1 draw

ROUND 5 Sydney Dreisigmeyer missed;  Corinne Kneizys finds net!

ROUND 4 Taylor Plouse misses; Courtnie Williamson is saved

ROUND 3 Alli Bitting is stopped; Maddie Bacskai is saved

ROUND 2 Halle O’Neill makes; Corinne Zanolli makes

ROUND 1 Rachel Yeager makes; Margaux Paolino makes

END OVERTIME Lower Dauphin will shoot first; Boyle remains in goal for the Churchwomen, while Lilliock will tend the Falcon cage

END OVERTIME We are set for penalty strokes!

75:00 EA PC Bacskai’s backhand saved and cleared!

71:00 Gaughan beats the goalkeeper but shovels the rebound wide! We play on! What a game!

70:40 Bitting with a diagonal pass that missed the intended target by barely a yard; what a response by Lower Dauphin!

67:30 Bacskai fills an open lane and has a half-chance that she misses on the swing; was that Episcopal’s chance?

61:45 Lilliock bats away an eye-high blast from Episcopal that was ticketed

60:00 And we are under way with overtime

FULL TIME EA will put Boyle, its first-half goalkeeper, in the cage for extra time

FULL TIME We’ll have one 15-minute 7-on-7 overtime period; next goal wins. Penalty strokes to follow if we remain goalless

FULL TIME At the end of regulation, the game is tied 1-1

59:00 Last minutes of regulation; who’s got the winning effort in them?

55:40 EA PC Paulino’s shot blocked by Taylor Plouse!

54:15 Gaughan’s shot is saved by Kelly!

52:52 EA PC Option right is tackled and sent away

52:52 Timeout, Episcopal Academy. Will they implement a corner from the training ground?

52:52 EA PC

47:39 Alli Bitting of Lower Dauphin chips it over the football goalpost

45:15 LD PC Bacskai cuts out the pass play and sends it away; she is having an excellent contest

37:31 EA GOAL Maddie Rehak finishes a clever centering pass from Colby Gallagher and the game is tied 1-1; nice response from the Churchwomen

34:37 LD PC and GOAL Logan Gaughan, the inserter, takes the hi-lo diagonally from Yeager and the Falcons lead 1-0; Kelly got a stick to it but couldn’t keep it out

34:00 LD PC save by Kelly!

33:14 LD PC Option-left misfired and goes out of bounds

31:30 EA PC Defensive save by Taylin Lehman! That was going in if she didn’t intercede!

30:00 The second half is under way

HALFTIME EA will bring in Caroline Kelly, their second-half goalkeeper, into the match for Boyle

HALFTIME The assignments for both defenses are clear; bend but don’t break. They are playing outstanding positional defense and preventing good goal shots

HALFTIME The siren goes with the game scoreless

28:30 The alarm bells go off on the EA defense as the ball is misplayed! Lower Dauphin is a hair from scoring but the Churchwomen clear the ball from goalie Bridget Boyle’s feet

26:30 EA PC Save by Maddie Lilliock!

25:00 The defenses are handling up their opposing attacks; interesting to watch the teams’ central midfielders. Both are juniors: EA’s Margaux Paolino and LD’s Halle O’Neill are both fine players who are trying their best to gain advantage in the midfield

15:00 The teams are testing each other in the midfield but the defenses are strong; I think corners will be at a premium tonight

8:00 LD PC A rescued mistrap is sent into the middle but a raised ball is called

5:50 EA PC Bacskai sizzles it wide!

0:00 The game is on

PREGAME Episcopal is in the navy with white trim, Lower Dauphin is in the white with royal trim

PREGAME The varsity match will get under way at about 6:20 p.m.

PREGAME The varsity teams are now warming up on a damp pitch with temperatures around 52 degrees; showers are in the forecast

PREGAME And just like that, with a nice backhand goal by Lower Dauphin’s JV, the hosts win the title game.

PREGAME The teams have not taken to the pitch yet because the JV final between Lower Dauphin and Cumberland Valley is in extra time

PREGAME For Lower Dauphin’s part, they are dealing with a bit of a leadership void, having graduated 21 seniors. But the team seems to be doing fine with its current roster

PREGAME I believe that both teams’ greatest obstacles in this final are themselves. Last year, Episcopal was in a showcase game against Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) and lost 8-0. The Churchwomen don’t want that to happen again

PREGAME The game is also one of outstanding coaches. Linda Kreiser and Gina Buggy were teammates on the U.S. senior women’s national team in the late 1970s and both have found great success as coaches the last four decades

PREGAME It is meeting of outstanding players on both sides. The Churchwomen are led by Margaux Paolino and Maddie Bacskai; the Falcons are paced by junior midfielders Alli Bitting and Rachel Yeager

PREGAME This is a meeting of perennial state championship teams. EA won last year’s PAISAA tournament, while Lower Dauphin has won the PIAA Class AAA title for the public schools four times, and is the defending PIAA District 3-AAA champion

PREGAME Lower Dauphin is 11-0-1; Episcopal Academy, the No. 5 team in the Top 10, is 12-0

PREGAME Playing in the final are the host Falcons, who beat Wexford North Allegheny 7-1; and Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.), who beat Mechanicsburg Cumberland Valley (Pa.) 6-0

PREGAME Hello, and welcome to  Kreiser-Hallman Field at Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) for the final of the Falcon Classic


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