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Nov. 19, 2015 — A wild 26 1/2 hours in American field hockey

It was eight years ago this week when a series of events over a two-day period not only took huge portions out of our national field hockey Top 10, but set in motion trends and tendencies that continue today.

Amongst other incidents, there was Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) star Michelle Cesan, the future Pan Am gold-medal winner, scoring an overtime goal to beat Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) in the inaugural NJSIAA Tournament of Champions. There was Palmyra (Pa.), weeks after the death of one of its players, upsetting a Dallas (Pa.) team with future U.S. star Paige Selenski. And there was the shock dismissal of Georgetown Sussex Tech (Del.) from the DIAA Tournament because of an ineligible player.

Well, from late Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday’s dinner hour, an equally zany series of events coursed through the field hockey world. Let’s try to give you a sense of what happened. Just one note here: none of the games referenced here were championship finals. This, friends, is the kind of hard work that teams need to do just to get to a title match.

Nov. 17, 5 p.m. — Emmaus (Pa.) and Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.), two teams which have won PIAA Class AAA titles in the recent past, square off under the lights at Don Thomas Stadium at Reading Exeter (Pa.).

Nov. 17, 5:05 p.m. — South Deerfield Frontier Regional (Mass.) is taking on undefeated Auburn (Mass.) in the MIAA Division 2 championship at Grafton (Mass.).

Nov. 17, 5:15 p.m. — A tanker truck heading west on the Pennsylvania Turnpike has an accident in West Nantmeal Township, just west of Downingtown, Pa. According to witnesses, the truck went up and down the west-side embankment twice before striking the Jersey wall in between the lanes of the highway. One of the external fuel cells ruptures, causing a fire.

Nov. 17, 5:18 p.m. — Emmaus attacking midfielder Meredith Sholder, one goal away from the state record for goals scored, turns provider for teammate Kira Koehler as the Hornets take a 1-0 lead.

Nov. 17, 5:19 p.m. — A good defensive play by Frontier’s Katt Miner prevents Auburn from getting an open shot on goal

Nov. 17, 5:20 p.m. — No traffic is moving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike between the Morgantown and the Downingtown exits; a 14-mile stretch spanning Berks and Chester Counties. The Downingtown (Pa.) East field hockey team is stuck in the traffic jam. They are in good company: also stuck in traffic is the bus carrying the Immaculata College basketball team. Yep, the Mighty Macs.

Nov. 17, 5:38 p.m. — Frontier gets the first shot on frame the entire game, one which Auburn deals with; they can’t beat the likes of Watertown or Hanover with this kind of offensive output, can they?

Nov. 17, 5:38 p.m. — It is halftime at Grafton. Can someone tell Auburn and Frontier what that little white ball on the pitch is for?

Nov. 17, 5:58 p.m. — Penn Manor ties the game with Emmaus as Madison Warfel puts away a Gabby Bitts pass; it’s all to play for here at Exeter.

Nov. 17, 5:59 p.m. — OK, so this could be a game-changer. Frontier is assessed a five-minute yellow card. Is this what Auburn needed to get going?

Nov. 17, 6:04 p.m. — We’re underway at Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.) in the PIAA Class AA semifinal between Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.) and Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.). This should be a track meet; in the last round, the teams combined for 15 goals.

Nov. 17, 6:06 p.m. — I guess makeup is on sale at the mall; Auburn is in the sin bin for five minutes and Frontier has an extra-player opportunity.

Nov. 17, 6:08 p.m. — Not to be outdone, the other PIAA Class AA semifinal between Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.) and Mountain Top Crestwood (Pa.) begins at Emmaus (Pa.). After Crestwood’s emotional overtime win on the weekend, can the Comets continue their run of play?

Nov. 17, 6:10 p.m. — Meredith Sholder gets the ball and, like the Red Sea, sees a tunnel of space to pound the ball into the goal cage for Emmaus as they take a 2-1 lead in the Class AAA semfinal. Sholder’s jump in the air completes a full twist, such is her exultation. There were six Penn Manor outfield players in the circle and the goalkeeper, and the junior still finds net. Incredible!

Nov. 17, 6:11 p.m. — Villa Maria gets the early lead on Donegal as Annina Iacobucci scores off a Hannah Miller pass.

Nov. 17, 6:11 p.m. — Crestwood gets the early lead on Twin Valley on an Ashleigh Thomas goal.

Nov. 17, 6:14 p.m. — Penn Manor has a corner chance with the clock ticking under two minutes, but the Emmaus corner defense is equal.

Nov. 17, 6:17 p.m. — The horn goes at Don Thomas Stadium, and the full-time score is Emmaus 2, Penn Manor 1.

Nov. 17, 6:18 p.m. — Mackenzie Allessie, the promising freshman, scores her 60th goal of the season and levels the game with Villa Maria at 1-1. Allessie is only the second freshman ever to have 60 goals in a season. But in a sign as to how the game of field hockey has changed in the last five to seven years, Allessie is only fifth in the nation in scoring.

Nov. 17, 6:20 p.m. — Hunter Pitman stakes Crestwood out to a 2-0 lead over Twin Valley. Just the kind of start the Comets want to have.

Nov. 17, 6:21 p.m. — Villa Maria noses back in front of Donegal from a goal by Megan Vermeil. She has a knack for big performances in big games. Wonder whose genetics is part of that?

Nov. 17, 6:23 p.m. — With the Emmaus-Penn Manor game over, there is only one team warmed up and ready to go: Palmyra (Pa.). It’s only now that the nature of the delay is known as word has filtered in about the truck crash.

Nov. 17, 6:24 p.m. — And just like that, Rachel Overlander has responded for Donegal to tie the Villa Maria match at 2-2. Four goals in 15 minutes; you having fun yet?

Nov. 17, 6:25 p.m. — Twin Valley turns up the wick a bit on offense and is making Crestwood work on defense.

Nov. 17, 6:26 p.m. — We are at the end of regulation in the MIAA Division 2 semifinal between Frontier and Auburn, and it is a goalless draw. We are going to extra time!

Nov. 17, 6:39 p.m. — And right on the stroke of halftime, Lindsay Dickinson gives Villa Maria a 3-2 lead. For a high-powered attack like Donegal, giving up a goal just this side of halftime is a mental hammer-blow.  

Nov. 17, 6:41 p.m. — Auburn gets a goal from Kileigh Hynes, as she slaloms around Frontier defenders, to end the game about seven minutes into extra time!

Nov. 17, 6:43 p.m. — Cheshire (Conn.) and Glastonbury (Conn.) have traveled to Wethersfield (Conn.) for a Connecticut Class L semifinal. Both teams know they’ll have to take on Wilton (Conn.) — who has just defeated West Hartford Conard (Conn.) — on Saturday.

Nov. 17, 6:43 p.m. — The Palmyra field hockey team is reportedly waiting in an Exeter classroom for word as to what to do next.

Nov. 17, 6:55 p.m. — In the PIAA Class AA semifinal, Amanda Beck tips in Allessie’s shot and the Donegal-Twin Valley match is level!

Nov. 17, 6:58 p.m. — Villa Maria responds just after the tie; Lindsay Dickinson has her brace and the Hurricanes take a 4-3 lead!

Nov. 17, 7 p.m. — While the Donegal-Villa Maria game is winding down, a previously scheduled open house and informational session run by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission begins inside Twin Valley High School. The session included discussion about the widening of the turnpike in several sections, including the one where the fatal truck accident occurred just two hours earlier.

Nov. 17, 7:03 p.m. — Cheshire gets on the board first in the CIAC Class L semifinals in the 28th minute; Nicole Salamone from Mikayla Crowley and Sam Simione on a penalty corner. It’s one of those goals that sometimes counts for two on the scoreboard because it’s under five minutes to go in the half; the team talk totally changes in situations like these.

Nov. 17, 7:04 p.m. — Donegal is down one goal to Villa Maria and has a penalty corner chance; head coach Jessica Shellenberger has called a timeout. Makes you wonder if there is a special penalty corner trick coming.

Nov. 17, 7:05 p.m. — Twin Valley has kept Crestwood shotless through the first half of the second term, and the Raiders pull one back in the 46th through Kendra Jones.

Nov. 17, 7:08 p.m. — Twin Valley’s Kelee Lepage, the team’s talisman this season, scores her 46th goal of the season and ties the Crestwood game at 2-2; we have 10 to go at Emmaus!

Nov. 17, 7:19 p.m. — And with the whistle, we’re going to overtime between Twin Valley and Crestwood!

Nov. 17, 7:24 p.m. — Again, Donegal head coach Jessica Shellenberger calls a timeout while the Indians have a corner on offense. The Indians haven’t scored since the Beck goal and you wonder if this is the one that will tie it up against Villa Maria. Under four to go here.

Nov. 17, 7:27 p.m. — The clock is out at the Donegal-Villa Maria semifinal, but what’s this? The Indians have been given an untimed corner at the end of regulation!

Nov. 17, 7:28 p.m. — Glastonbury hasn’t lost a game since 2013, and they show off that winning form as  Catherine Guanci ties it 1-1 with Cheshire; 45th minute of play.

Nov. 17, 7:28 p.m. — Donegal’s shot attempt is wide; we’re at full time and Villa Maria wins 4-3, and will go for a second straight state championship. Head coach Daan Polders will be going for his fourth state title in a row as a coach; he was the architect of the 2012 and 2013 Denver Colorado Academy (Colo.) championship teams.

Nov. 17, 7:32 p.m. — A potential game-changer in overtime of Crestwood-Twin Valley; the Comets have been assessed a five-minute yellow card and will play short.

Nov. 17, 7:33 p.m. — And just like that, Twin Valley is assessed a green; we’re 5-a-side on a regulation pitch now. Hey, anyone have some railroad ties for indoor?

Nov. 17, 7:35 p.m. — Because of the blockage of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the PIAA reschedules the Palmyra-Downington East field hockey game for Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Nov. 17, 7:36 p.m. — Elizabeth Dessoye, the senior who will be gray-shirting at Maryland beginning this winter, gets a penalty corner shot, but doesn’t get it on frame. We play on between Crestwood and Twin Valley!

Nov. 17, 7:45 p.m. — And we’re going into double-overtime between Crestwod and Twin Valley in the Pennsylvania Class AA semifinals. 

Nov. 17, 7:46 p.m. — And we are at full time here in Westhersford, and the CIAC Class L semifinals are headed to extra time with the sides level at 1-1.

Nov. 17, 7:54 p.m. — And in the 80th minute, Twin Valley’s Lepage gets her brace; it is her 47th of the season and the Raiders beat Crestwood 2-1

Nov. 17, 8:04 p.m. — With the umpire’s whistle, 10 minutes of 7-on-7 hockey between Glastonbury and Cheshire have elapsed; double-overtime is next.

Nov. 17, 8:18 p.m. — We’re finished with the second 10-minute period of overtime between Glastonbury and Cheshire; we will need a third!

Nov. 17, 8:30 p.m. — A third overtime period isn’t enough to separate Glastonbury and Cheshire; we’re headed to penalty strokes to decide this one.

Nov. 17, 8:41 p.m. — Sam Simione gets Cheshire’s first penalty stroke into the cage; that’s the way you want to start a shootout.

Nov. 17, 8:51 p.m. — Oddly enough, nobody else can score in the shootout. It’s 1-0 heading into the fifth round

Nov. 17, 8:52 p.m. — Glastonbury needs this stroke to keep the shootout going, but a hip-high flip is gloved by Alyssa Stevens of Cheshire. She sprints out of the goal, slides on the turf, and is subsumed by a tidal wave of teammates wearing black raingear.

Nov. 18, 12:15 a.m. — The westbound lanes of the Pennsylvania Turnpike are reopened to traffic.

Nov. 18, 4:07 p.m. — The whistle blows for the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions semifinal between Group II champion Madison (N.J.) Borough and Non-Public champion Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.).

Nov. 18, 4:12 p.m. — It doesn’t take long for the Royals to get on the board as Kendall Hanlon connects in the fifth minute on a lovely backhander from the left wing; Oak Knoll leads Madison 1-0.

Nov. 18, 4:29 p.m. — Madison ties it up off a penalty corner; Steph Dallavia is able to solve the usually stalwart Oak Knoll penalty corner defensive corps and we have a 1-1 tie!

Nov. 18, 4:40 p.m. — The whistle goes for halftime of Oak Knoll-Madison. Statistically, Oak Knoll is being outplayed, but Madison is having trouble with the Royal defense, which is extremely good.

Nov. 18, 4:53 p.m. — Oak Knoll takes a 2-1 lead in the 39th over Madison as Ali McCarthy slides the ball into the goal cage!

Nov. 18, 4:54 p.m. — Madison Borough finds iron on its next foray downfield! This is going to be good heading down the stretch.

Nov. 18, 4:55 p.m. — Oak Knoll breaches the Dodgers’ defense but Madison goalie Emile Flamme stands her ground. What wide-open hockey do we have here!

Nov. 18, 4:59 p.m. — Jennifer Conroy ties the game for Madison with about 15 minutes to go against Oak Knoll! 

Nov. 18, 5:11 p.m. — Madison takes the lead over Oak Knoll in the 54th minute as Lauren Taylor finishes off a scramble from in front!

Nov. 18, 5:16 p.m. — The Royals are level! Kirby Comizio tips in Ali McCarthy’s hi-lo in the final half-minute of play! This is unbelievable hockey from Oak Knoll!

Nov. 18, 5:17 p.m. — And we’re going to overtime in Plainsboro!

Nov. 18, 5:23 p.m. — Madison corner, but Comizio comes up with the defensive save off the line! That was going in!

Nov. 18, 5:25 p.m. — And Oak Knoll has been awarded a penalty stroke!

Nov. 18, 5:26 p.m. — Flamme stands tall; Comizio fires it shoulder-high and we play on!

Nov. 18, 5:29 p.m. — Gabby Andretta with the steal off the right wing, and she scores! Oak Knoll comes from behind in the final minute of play to beat Madison 3-2 in what has to be one of the contests of the year! What a game!

Nov. 18, 6:07 p.m. — Palmyra and Downingtown East finally meet up — 24 hours late — for a berth in the PIAA Class AAA title match after a 23-hour delay at Don Thomas Stadium. The game is finally on.

Nov. 18, 6:18 p.m. — After warmups (and digestion of a wonderful prelude in Plainsboro), it’s Washington Warren Hills (N.J.), the state Group III champion against Voorhees Eastern (N.J.), the Group IV champion.

Nov. 18, 6:21 p.m. — Well, that didn’t take long. Mackenzie Keegan is set up beautifully by Madison Morano and Eastern has a 1-0 lead over Warren Hills.

Nov. 18, 6:23 p.m. — Though Downingtown East has good pressure early, it is Palmyra that strikes first through Kiley Gallagher. The assist was by Lexi Smith. No, not that Lexi Smith.

Nov. 18, 6:28 p.m. — Alexis Pettisani rescues the Eastern corner and buries it; the lead over Warren Hills is 2-0.

Nov. 18, 6:31 p.m. — Jessica Maute puts it in! The Eastern Express is rolling again with a 3-0 lead. Like so many times over the last 17 years of their state championship run, they get on these goal-scoring runs and never let up.

Nov. 18, 6:46 p.m. — What’s this? Dani Profita of Warren Hills pulls one back against Eastern in the 26th; score is still 3-1

Nov. 18, 6:51 p.m. — We are at halftime with Eastern still leading Warren Hills 3-1. Again, those pesky goals five minutes or less from the interval. That will definitely change the halftime team talk, as if the Vikings need any more motivation.

Nov. 18, 6:54 p.m. — Carli Herman sinks a penalty stroke for Palmyra, and it’s 2-0 for the Cougars. A second straight trip to the PIAA Class AAA championship game is in sight.

Nov. 18, 7:01 p.m. — Gallagher, the hard-working future Boston University player, gets her brace, and Palmyra is leading 3-0.

Nov. 18, 7:04 p.m. — Eastern senior forward Nikki Santore gets her 68th goal of the season to pull ahead 4-1 over Warren Hills. She now leads the country in goals scored. Santore’s feat is awesome on so many levels, but we’ll just give you this. If Santore isn’t overtaken by the end of the season, it will mark the fifth straight year that the nation’s leading goal-scorer is from Eastern. Furthermore, of the top nine single-season goal scoring performances, six are Eastern players. That’s right. From ONE school.

Nov. 18, 7:06 p.m. — Herman misses a penalty stroke for Palmyra; it is about the only foot that the Cougars have put wrong tonight. But that’s what happens when you have deep playoff experience; Downingtown East has never been this far before.

Nov. 18, 7:20 p.m. — A final from Don Thomas Stadium; at full time, it’s Palmyra 3, Downingtown West 0

Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m. — A final from WW-P North; at full time, it’s Eastern 4, Warren Hills 1


1 Comment»

  Dec. 15, 2015 — The Final Top 50 | wrote @

[…] Hello, folks. These never get easier, especially given the presence of wonderful players on teams which may get knocked out early in the postseason. Plus, there was that wild final week of the 2015 season that saw several close finishes in just one 26 1/2-hour period. […]

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