HUMMELSTOWN, Pa. — “Oh, no.”
This was what supporters of the Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) field hockey team were thinking when U-19 national team member Rachel Robinson, recovering from knee surgery earlier this year, went down in pain on the turf of Kreiser-Hallman Field after withstanding a hard, but clean, stick tackle during overtime of the final of the 2016 Falcon Classic.
A wet, black-clad figure with a baseball cap worn backward turned toward the Donegal bench. “Grace! Right wing,” said Indians’ head coach Jessica Rose Shellenberger.
With that, junior Grace Miller entered the cauldron that is 7-on-7 overtime. Within three minutes, she made the difference, shepherding a Mackenzie Allessie feed over the goal line to win the rain-soaked game 3-2 over a good Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) side.
“I set up shop at the post, and Mackenzie’s shot just came to me,” Miller said. “We really wanted to win today, and we came up with the goal.”
“Grace can play anywhere,” Shellenberger said. “We just wanted someone to be able to finish on that side.”
Miller had also made a difference in tying the game late in the first half. On a corner play, center halfback Mackenzie Allessie mistrapped the ball, but Miller sprinted out to the ball and took it up the right side towards goal. She was fouled on the way into the circle and earned a penalty corner that was eventually converted by Amanda Beck.
“It was just heart and hustle,” Miller said. “and for us to be able to tie it up, we needed a goal.”
Miller’s goal ended an overtime period that was surprisingly dominant on the part of Donegal. Of the roughly 12 1/2 minutes of extra time, the Indians had about 10 minutes of possession.
“Yesterday, we practiced overtime, and we talked about taking care of the ball,” Shellenberger said. “If you get space, dribble it in.”
This is the kind of team Donegal has been building over the last couple of years. Shellenberger and her coaching staff are blessed with not only members of more than one junior national side, but with a group of players who can play just about everywhere on the pitch, and in different formations. Tactically, this leads to a flexible team which can possess the ball, play the big-ball style to change the field, or cut a team to ribbons with a short passing game.
“We started doing a nice job of carrying it in and making them commit before we deliver that ball,” Shellenberger said. “If you have a player like Alli Bitting in the back for them, when you lay the ball off for a teammate, she’ll eat that up.”
The talisman of the team is Allessie, who, last year, became only the second freshman in recorded National Federation history to score as many as 60 goals in a season. This year, as the Indians’ center midfielder, she helps control and direct the attack through her skills and quickness. She is one of the nation’s leading goal-scorers, but she doesn’t let it show in her demeanor.
“It doesn’t matter who puts the ball in or who makes the stop on defense, as long as it happens,” Allessie said. “We all really work hard. And that’s what makes us want to do something great with the ball when we have it.”
As well as Donegal played yesterday, Lower Dauphin was on the front foot yesterday for much of the first half, taking the lead from a shot off the stick Courtney Kindall. It took an Allessie blast six minutes later to draw level, only to see the Falcons jump ahead just two minutes later thanks to Halle O’Neill.
It took Allessie another eight minutes to tie the game, finding teammate and corner inserter Amanda Beck at the doorstep on the corner earned by Miller’s hustle.
The Indians had a chance to win in regulation, but an Allessie penalty corner shot in the final minute of play was stopped by Emma Durantine, who had a strong game on defense for Lower Dauphin.
DONEGAL (11-0) 2 – 0 – 1 — 3
LOWER DAUPHIN (9-3-1) 2 – 0 – 0 — 2
LD: Courtney Kindall (Emma Durantine), fg, 10th minute
D: Mackenzie Allessie (Amanda Beck), pc, 16th
LD: Halle O’Neill, fg, 18th
D: Beck (Allessie), pc, 26th
D: Grace Miller (Allessie), fg, 73rd
Shots — D: 7; LD: 9. Saves — D: Katie Jean 7; LD: Katie Lammando 4.
POSTGAME Thanks for following along; good day and good hockey
POSTGAME As much as this win means for Donegal, it also provides teaching and inspirational material for Lower Dauphin. The Falcons do not shy away from playing the likes of the Indians or Episcopal Academy, who won last year’s Falcon Classic in strokes
POSTGAME The contest was a showcase of everything that Allessie has in her skill arsenal; she is one of those players who can either score or set up a teammate for a score through the simplest of touches
POSTGAME Grace Miller, who had the hustle play in the first half leading to the tying penalty quarter, wins the game with what could be a season-defining goal
72:43 DHS GOAL Grace Miller, the substitute for Robinson, puts it in! Wow! Donegal wins 3-2!
70:00 For Robinson, just coming off major knee surgery, this is a definite scare. She comes off under her own power
70:00 DHS PC The Indians run the hi-lo to Robinson from the Brooklyn side; but a clean Lower Dauphin stick tackle has left her injured on the turf
68:50 Donegal with a great chance that misses a yawning cage!
67:45 DHS PC Allessie with the mistrap; Rachel Robinson, knee brace and all, fires wide!
67:00 DHS PC Allessie dribbles and is tackled; will re-rack
64:10 Lily Saunders busts into the 25 but misses the cage
63:20 Beck hits the post with the shot after a possession up the right side!
60:00 And we are on with extra time
FULL TIME And like last year, up to two 15-minute periods are played with the golden-goal rule in force
FULL TIME And for the second straight year, the Falcon Classic will be decided in overtime
59:13 DHS PC Allessie’s blast stopped by Durantine on the trail
59:13 TIMEOUT DONEGAL
59:13 DHS PC
52:50 DHS PC Allessie with the 1-up; Lammando says no
52:15 DHS PC Errant ball cleared by Emma Durantine
49:30 Donegal testing the through ball again; Lower Dauphin deals with it but you wonder what happens when the visitors are able to execute
43:25 The play goes awry and the ball comes back the other way
43:15 Allessie beats three players and earns a free hit in a promising position
42:32 TIMEOUT, DONEGAL
39:30 LD PC Yeager’s option left is sent just wide!
31:00 DHS PC Allessie beats two on the fly, but Lammando makes the boot save!
30:00 The second half is under way
HALFTIME The Indians played a lot better territorially in the last 10 minutes; Lower Dauphin has been subbing in a lot of players to keep fresh
HALFTIME I think Lower Dauphin was the better organized side, but Donegal generated better chances
HALFTIME The horn sounds with the sides level
25:26 DHS PC Beck takes Allessie’s flip and sends it over the line! How big was Miller’s play just seconds before? Game tied 2-2
24:30 DHS PC Mistrap goes into midfield and Grace Miller rescues it. Takes it to the corner and wins a penalty corner on the defensive foul; good hustle play!
23:04 LD GREEN Rachel Yeager is off for two minutes
20:15 DHS PC Allessie flips a shot that Katie Lammando knocks away; rebound sent wide!
17:11 LD GOAL Halle O’Neill with a clever goal to respond! Falcons lead 2-1
15:00 DHS PC and GOAL Mackenzie Allessie, the sophomore midfielder, finds net with a bouncer; I thought inserter Amanda Beck might have gotten the touch on it, but Allessie will claim it; game tied 1-1
9:21 LD GOAL Courtney Kindall gets her stick on an Emma Durantine feed and the hosts lead 1-0
8:30 Amanda Beck of Donegal flips a shot that is tipped just wide!
5:15 LD PC Rachel Yeager chops a shot that is saved by Katie Jean; a rebound is saved as well!
0:00 The game is on
PREGAME Lower Dauphin is in the white with royal numbers, Donegal is in the green with white numbers
PREGAME The teams are warming up under rainy skies, temperatures around 60 degrees; the skies opened up halfway during warmups, but the turf here at Kreiser-Hallman Field drains pretty well
PREGAME For Lower Dauphin, this game is a chance to regain some momentum after losing a pair of matches against Hershey and Penn Manor
PREGAME For Donegal, this is a day of discovery. Rare is the time this team has played more than one game in a day, and this should be the sternest test for the Indians until the start of the postseason
PREGAME Lower Dauphin (Mid-Penn) and Donegal (Lancaster-Lebanon) are also both in highly competitive leagues, amongst the best in the country
PREGAME The two finalists are a study in parallels. They should be in the same state tournament classification, but Lower Dauphin petitioned to move up to Class AAA
PREGAME With all due respect to the other two teams in this tournament, this is the matchup that a lot of folks were anticipating
PREGAME Earlier today, Donegal shut out Mechanicsville Cumberland Valley (Pa.) 7-0, and Lower Dauphin beat Langhorne Neshaminy (Pa.), 4-0
PREGAME Lower Dauphin is 9-2-1 on the season; Donegal, the No. 3 team in the TopOfTheCircle.com Top 10, is 10-0
PREGAME Hello, and welcome to Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) for the final of the Falcon Classic, featuring the hosts against Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.)