Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Nov. 5, 2018 — Day of 1000 (er, um, eight) Goals

Last Saturday’s tripleheader of PIAA District 3 championship finals was slated to be an exhibition of goalscoring, as seven players representing more than 1,100 goals were on the rosters of the six competing teams.

But something interesting happened: just eight goals were scored in the three games.

It might be glib for me to refer to the Seventh Law of Field Hockey, which holds that good teams can beat good individuals, and vice versa. I think, however, there was something else at play: the improvement of team defense from the beginning of the season.

Take Aliza Johns, the senior goalkeeper for Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.). She had the unenviable task of having to take over for all-American Katie Jean for a team with title aspirations after seeing their season end last year with an untimed corner at the end of overtime.

I had a talk with Johns the evening her teammate Mackenzie Allessie not only became the first player in National Federation history to score 100 goals in a season, but became the all-time leading career scorer. She told me that she had improved over the course of the year having to face Allessie, Lily Saunders, and the rest of the team’s high-powered attack every day in practice.

That improvement showed in how she organized her defense in the District 3 title win over Palmyra (Pa.). She stopped everything that Mia Julian, Lauren Wadas, and the rest of the Cougars threw at her.

Similarly, Lower Dauphin keeper Brandelynn Heinbaugh had a tremendous effort against Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.) and 100-goal scorers Gabby Bitts and Emma DeBerdine. Amongst six saves was an acrobatic stop on a 42nd-minute corner. On the play, DeBerdine made a pass into the D for teammate Jasmine Miller.

Heinbaugh dove out and somehow got Miller’s shot with her heel as she sprawled. It looked like something out of the Dominik Hasek goaltending school for ice hockey, and could very well have been a candidate for SportsCenter Top 10.

As for the Class A final, it’s amazing that the Millerstown Greenwood (Pa.) defense allowed the high-powered attack of Oley (Pa.) Valley only four shots in the last 42 1/2 minutes of regulation and overtime. Give a lot of credit to Wildcats goalie Kelsey Sheaffer for organizing her team’s defense against the stick wizardry of junior attacker Sophia Gladieux, who was the best player on the park for much of the game, but it was Greenwood who won the game in overtime.

As this is District play we’re talking about here, all six of these teams live to fight another day. Let’s see what they do tomorrow.

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