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Archive for May 31, 2018

May 31, 2018 — An appreciation: Cathy Keiser, head coach, Selinsgrove (Pa.)

One in an occasional series.

It has been a successful, albeit star-crossed, third of a century for a group of young women who have played field hockey along the banks of the Susquehanna River in a town of Selinsgrove, Pa., population 5,383.

For the past 34 years, Cathy Keiser has poked, prodded, and willed her teams to an outsized influence on the game of field hockey nationwide. She announced her retirement from coaching the Seals just this week as one of only a handful of scholastic coaches with more than 600 victories.

She was instrumental in the development of former U.S. international Keli Smith, who was part of perhaps the greatest front line in the history of the NCAA alongside fellow U.S. national teamers Carla Tagliente and Dina Rizzo.

Keiser also coached a Seals team that held the No. 1 ranking in the Top 10 for almost the entire 2006 season. It was a brilliant team that only fell in the state semifinal round to a Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) team with two future U.S. national teamers — Kelsey Kolojejchick and Kat Sharkey — in its lineup.

Three years later, Selinsgrove made another run at the state title, making it all the way to the Class AA championship game against a good Lehighton (Pa.) side coached by former U.S. men’s national teamer Shawn Hindy. The Seals had their chances, but the game went into extra time goalless. The game came down to a breakaway in the seventh minute of overtime, when it was ruled that the Selinsgrove goalkeeper took the ball and the player on a breakaway opportunity. The ensuing penalty stroke gave Lehighton the win and denied Keiser her first PIAA state championship.

Throughout the years, the Seals played good hockey and scheduled many of the best teams in Pennsylvania for friendlies as well as regular-season matches. Oddly enough, last fall, Selinsgrove began its regular season and ended its playoff run against the same school: Plymouth Wyoming Valley West (Pa.), a side which won the silver medal in Class AA.

Up until Keiser’s last game, Selinsgrove competed fearlessly against the very best the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania had to offer.

It will take, I believe, an uncommon and outsized personality to take over from Keiser, such is the imprint she has made in the community and in all of Snyder County. She will be missed.