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Nov. 21, 2015 —  Emmaus (Pa.) 1, Palmyra (Pa.) 0, OT

WHITEHALL, Pa. — Amongst the experiences in the field hockey portfolio of Emmaus (Pa.) junior attacking midfielder Meredith Sholder is membership on the U.S. senior women’s national indoor field hockey team. That has given her valuable insight into the use of speed and space.

And that especially goes for how to approach 7-on-7 overtime in the outdoor game. After the Hornets were stymied by Palmyra’s picket-fence defense for 60 minutes of the PIAA Class AAA final, it took just 67 seconds for Emmaus to unleash a successful attack straight out of indoor hockey to win 1-0 in overtime.

On the play, winger Leah Zellner went up the left side, drew out Palmyra goalie Cheyenne Sprecher, and dumped the ball past her into the circle. Sholder, attacking the space, had an open goal cage from four yards for the tap-in.

“We always go to space, because that’s the important thing to do, find space,” Zellner said. “I got the ball past the goalie to the top of the circle, and I knew someone was going to be there for us.”

That someone was Sholder.

“She could not have made a more perfect pass,” Sholder said of her teammate Zellner, who had actually scored in overtime two weeks ago in the District 11 final from a Sholder pass.

Sholder’s game-winner was her 159th career goal, tying both the Emmaus program record and the PIAA record held by Emmaus graduate Alley Evans.

“It’s amazing feeling to have won a state championship and break the state record,” Sholder said. “And I couldn’t have picked a better group to do it with. I couldn’t have done it without my team.”

Emmaus, the champions of District 11, was mindful of Palmyra’s tactics from last year’s Class AAA semifinals, a 4-0 Cougar victory. It took all of the Hornets’ guile and sinew to keep a good Palmyra offense off the board on seven penalty corner chances in the second half. The unit of Sholder, Alicia Cooperman, Maddy Dorn, Chloe Tostevin, and goalie Paige Garloff were extremely stout.

“They have about 30 different corners, and we spent the last couple of days of practice working on that,” said Emmaus coach Susan Butz-Stavin, the nation’s all-time winningest coach with 865. “The defense in front of our goalie has been sensational all year.”

“They do a really good job of flying,” Palmyra head coach Kristi Costello said. “So, first of all, it hard to find a time to take a shot because they’re on you so quickly. But it was also hard to get the ball through.”

One incident crystallized the excellence and the desire of the corner defense unit and Sholder’s will to win a state title. With Palmyra having spent a timeout to plan its second corner of the second half, Sholder, the team’s corner flyer, sliced in and disrupted the planned Palmyra passing play in at least three junctures, winning the ball, and withstanding a pair of tackles on a solo clear. It was a very loud and emphatic “no.”

Emmaus had its opportunities in regulation, especially in the first 10 minutes. But the Cougars had their own heroes on corners. Katelyn Mark and Sprecher were extremely good on defensive corners.

“The effort was there, and it’s all you can ask,” Costello said. “This will sting for a while, but they’ll get some great life lessons from this.”

The Hornets had a great opportunity in the 20th minute just after Palmyra missed on a corner. Cooperman, having won the ball in the circle. went deep down the sideline where Emmaus teammates were waiting in pre-determined spots to take advantage of the overcommitted Palmyra team. It almost resulted in a goal, but Sprecher made two tremendous stops on Madison Orebono.

“We wanted to do something to take advantage of our speed,” Sholder said. “We try to catch them off-guard, and it really worked out for us.

EMMAUS (27-0) 0-0-1 — 1
PALMYRA (23-3) 0-0-0 — 0
P: Meredith Sholder (Leah Zellner), fg, 62nd
Shots- E: 6; P: 5. Saves- E: Paige Garloff 5; P: Cheyenne Sprecher 5.

61:07 EHS GOAL Leah Zellner, who scored two weeks ago in the District 11 final against Stroudsburg, rounds the left-wing and throws it into open space where Sholder has her 64th of the season, and possibly the easiest goal of her life, from inside the stroke mark. Emmaus wins 1-0! What a finish!

60:00 And we are on with extra time

END REGULATION We will now have up to two 15-minute overtime periods, and the golden goal rule applies. If nobody scores, we go to penalty strokes. The dreaded phrase “Co-champions will be declared” shall not be heard today

END REGULATION The siren goes with the sides goalless

56:00 PHS PC Defensed and cleared! What a job by the Emmaus penalty corner defense!

54:00 PHS PC Shot goes wide! Palmyra is spurning a lot of these corner chances

53:00 EHS PC Sholder is blocked by Mark again!

50:00 PHS PC Cleared by Maddie Dorn

49:19 PHS PC Garloff with the save!


49:19 PHS PC

45:00 PHS PC Shot goes wide!

44:00 PHS PC Option right is tackled, but will re-rack

43:30 EHS PC Another mistrap! This turf is still bumpy here at Whitehall after all these years and I’m not sure why this has never been remedied

42:30 EHS PC Mistrapped; rescued by Cooperman but no shot results

36:08 PHS PC Sholder defenses and clears, looking like an NFL linebacker as she withstands several stick tackles! Wow; this is the kind of desire that has made her an absolute standout

36:08 PHS TIMEOUT; what does the coaching staff have here? Emmaus is still down to 10

36:08 PHS PC

35:39 EHS GREEN Ingalls off for two minutes for the barge

31:30 PHS PC Shot goes wide!

30:00 The second half is underway

HALFTIME But if Emmaus is able to spring players on the attack on a snowbird, watch out. The Hornets can cover an extraordinary amount of ground in seconds with this weapon. This isn’t the “big ball” offense of the 1990s, but a coordinated effort to spring free players on goal through sprinting to predetermined points on the pitch, an extremely advanced tactic

HALFTIME Sprecher, committed to UConn, has been extremely stout this game. It will take something extraordinary to beat her today

HALFTIME At the siren, the sides are scoreless

21:00 Kiley Gallagher with a bolo backhand that Garloff saves

19:20 Madison Orebono of Emmaus overlaps and takes the space, creating a breakaway — but Sprecher makes two sprawling saves! Wow!

19:00 PHS PC Cleared by Cooperman and the Hornets have a snowbird on the other side of the pitch

17:15 PHS PC Saved by Paige Garloff

16:40 PHS PC Defensed by Sholder, but will rerack for the foot

11:30 PHS PC Defensed by Sholder

10:00 Good Emmaus pass play leads to an angled shot by Kacie Patton, but Sprecher kicks it aside

4:05 EHS PC Alicia Cooperman’s sweep is blunted by goalie Cheyenne Sprecher!

3:30 EHS PC Sholder with a diagonal that is almost bunted in: will re-rack

3:00 EHS PC Option right is blocked by Katelyn Mark; will re-rack

0:00 The game is on

PREGAME Emmaus is in the green with white kilts; Palmyra is in the white with black kilts

PREGAME This game is all about Palmyra’s defense against Emmaus’ offense. Emmaus has Meredith Sholder, who has 63 goals this season. But the Cougars have not yielded a goal in four games dating back to the District 3 semifinals

PREGAME The last time these two teams met was the semifinals a year ago, which Palmyra won 4-0

PREGAME Emmaus, the District 11 champions, are 26-0. Palmyra, the District 3 champs, are 23-2

PREGAME Back at Allentown Whitehall (Pa.) for the PIAA Class AAA final between Emmaus (Pa.) and Palmyra (Pa.)


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