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Nov. 21, 2015 –Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.) 3, Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.) 1

WHITEHALL, Pa. — Elverson, Pa., the mailing address for Twin Valley High School, is a town of just 1,225 nestled between the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, where iron ore was processed during the 19th and 20th Centuries. And just like many small towns in Pennsylvania, it has produced more than its fair share of excellent field hockey players.

Twin Valley turned a lot of hard work and the influence of 1984 Olympic bronze medalist Brenda (Stauffer) Hoffman into a tremendous effort in the 2015 season, capped off by a 3-1 win over defending state champion Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.).

It was Hoffman who helped choose Kim Walsh, Twin Valley Class of 2003, as the team’s new head coach after she resigned last season. Walsh got her team to buy into her coaching and playing style, and it paid off handsomely.

“We wanted to keep the same values and traditions,” Walsh said. “But we changed everything else. This is the same type of hockey, but it’s going to be a new program with a new coach. They really embraced that, and listened.”

“It took a while,” Lepage said, “but as we kept playing, it got better and better.”

Twin Valley, after absorbing substantial Villa Maria pressure the first seven minutes or so, started applying pressure by simply taking the ball right at Villa Maria’s defense. Seniors Kelee Lepage and Kendra Jones were immense all game, as well as Hannah Menge, the team’s center midfielder.

Lepage, the team’s talisman, scored what would turn out to be the game-winner in the 27th minute when her 1-Up shot snaked into the corner of the goal cage. It was her 48th goal of the season.

“I think the belief came in during the first game of the state tournament,” said the Maryland-bound forward. “It just kept going from there.”

Twin Valley showed few ill effects of having played an overtime game earlier in the week against Mountain Top Crestwood (Pa.), coming from two goals down.

“I think it finally hit them, after that comeback, that they could go all the way,” Walsh said. “But we didn’t really think about that earlier in the season. We just took it game by game.”

Villa Maria, to its credit, clawed one back in the opening minute of the second half as Megan Vermeil scored in her second straight state final. But the Hurricanes would not find the goal frame on any penalty corner for the rest of the game.

Instead, it would be Twin Valley closing out the match with a double-deflection; Jones was credited with the goal.

The win was the first state championship for Twin Valley in field hockey and the first in any girls’ sport at the school since the 1978 softball team coached by Marty Hassler.

Hassler, who has since retired as coach and athletic director at Twin Valley, was the bus driver for the Twin Valley field hockey team this season.

“Our girls turned down a coach bus so that Marty could drive us to the game today,” Walsh said. “In a yellow school bus.”

“We had to have him,” said Lepage. “He’s been a good-luck charm for us.”

As well as a link to history.

VILLA MARIA (22-1-1) 0-1 — 1
TWIN VALLEY (27-2) 2-1 — 3
TV: Riley Knapp (Kendra Jones), fg, 12th minute
TV: Kelee Lepage (Kara McClure), pc, 27th
VM: Megan Vermeil (Abby Siana), pc, 31st
TV: Jones (Hannah Menge), pc, 52nd

FULL TIME And a roar comes up from the crowd as Twin Valley beats Villa Maria 3-1

59:40 VM PC Ends on a foot

59:00 Last minute of play and the Twin Valley student section senses victory

57:00 TV PC Lepage’s shot tipped wide

56:20 VM PC Pass is wayward and it is Twin Valley ball

56:00 VM PC Defensed, but will re-rack

52:42 Timeout, Villa Maria. Polders has now had to alter his team talk after the Jones goal

50:00 TV PC and GOAL Jones tips in Menge’s pass in mid-air and it’s 3-1 Twin Valley

49:30 Polders wants to get the timeout, but Twin Valley has possession in the attack end and now gets a corner as a result

49:00 Villa coach Daan Polders is writing notes on his whiteboard; he’ll need to use his final timeout to instruct the team as to what to do with the drawings

47:00 VM GREEN Miller is off for two

45:30 VM PC Defensed by Kendra Jones!

43:00 VM PC Defensed by Lepage

40:38 Timeout, Twin Valley. They have the pressure now of seeing this game out, and are missing chances during this run of play

39:45 TV PC Mistrap at the top of the circle

38:59 Lepage’s backhander saved by Acuna

37:30 TV PC Ends with a foot

37:00 TV PC Low-angle shot from Menge is saved by Acuna

35:48 VM GREEN Miller off for two

35:25 TV PC Lepage with a waist-high shot saved by Danielle Acuna; should be a raised ball, surely?

30:57 VM PC and GOAL Megan Vermeil takes the option left and slings home Siana’s pass; Twin Valley still leads 2-1

30:00 The second half is under way

HALFTIME A well-deserved lead for the Raiders, who exhibited a devil-may-care attitude in taking the initiative and the lead

HALFTIME So, after consultation with the table official, no corner is taken and the Twin Valley lead is 2-0 at the break

HALFTIME A bit of confusion as the half ends; no audible signal emanated from the scoreboard as the clock hit zero, but the umpires signal a corner way after the clock expired

26:16 Timeout, Villa Maria

26:16 TV PC and GOAL Lepage with the 1-Up and it is her 48th of the season! Twin Valley up 2-0

25:33 VM GREEN Emily Harkins off for two

23:00 Hannah Menge storms into the circle and clouts the ball into a crowd; a dangerous raised ball is the call

20:23 VM PC Defensed and cleared by Lepage

19:47 VM PC Hannah Miller’s shot cleared off the line! There are appeals for a stroke, but a corner the result

15:50 VM PC Vermeil’s cross pass is cut out and cleared by Lepage

14:00 VM PC Siana’s option right is stopped by Gina Gatto’s pad and the umpire’s whistle for dangerous height

11:01 TV GOAL Riley Knapp caps off about four minutes of pressure with a goal! Twin Valley leads 1-0

9:30 Lepage again with a backhand but it is high and wide for a 16

8:50 Kelee Lepage lances a backhand that is inches wide!

7:50 TV has a free hit in a dangerous position, but the self-start is off a foot

3:30 Twin Valley has the Hurricane goalie down but a foul on the Raiders

1:55 Villa Maria’s Vermeil chops a shot just wide!

0:00 The game is on

PREGAME Twin Valley is in the white tops with green kilts and numbers; Villa Maria is in the all-navy with light blue numbers

PREGAME The teams are warming up under clear skies with a little wind, temperature around 48 degrees

PREGAME Twin Valley’s attack revolves around seniors Kelee Lepage and Kendra Jones. Lepage has 47 goals on the season, and is among the nation’s leaders

PREGAME Villa Maria is a tough team to mark because so many players can score for them; watch particularly for seniors Abby Siana and Megan Vermeil, and junior midfielder Lindsay Dickinson

PREGAME Twin Valley’s coach, Kim Walsh, is in her first year of coaching the Raiders. Daan Polders is looking to win his fourth consecutive state title as a head coach; before replacing the legendary Maurene Polley in 2014, he coached Denver Colorado Academy (Colo.) to two straight titles

PREGAME Twin Valley is making its first trip to the state final, and the town of Elverson has a population of 1,225

PREGAME The teams are a study in contrast. Villa Maria is the defending state champion, and is a small Roman Catholic private school in suburban Philadelphia

PREGAME Twin Valley, the second-ranked team from District 3, is 26-2 on the season. Villa Maria, champions of District 1, is 21-0-1

PREGAME Hello, and welcome to the Zephyr-Coplay Complex at Allentown Whitehall (Pa.) for the PIAA Class AA final between Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.) and Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.)


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