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Archive for November 20, 2021

Nov. 20, 2021 — The main course

On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, you can find a movable feast of field hockey finals from Connecticut to California.

But as it turned out, the highlight of the proceedings — the main course, if you will — took place at 3 p.m. As it turned out, that’s when our No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the TopOfTheCircle.com Top 10 played their respective championship games.

Delmar (Del.) and Emmaus (Pa.) may be two diametrically opposed teams in terms of community and school size, but are equal in determination and hockey-playing ability.

But in the first minutes of the game, the two teams were a bit jittery. Though Delmar put all sorts of pressure on debutante side Newark (Del.) Charter, the Wildcats had but one goal in the first 22 minutes. At the same time, a taut and tense game was being played in Whitehall, Pa. between Emmaus and Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.), with the game going goalless.

In the second half of the second quarter, Delmar not only was able to hammer at the dam, they knocked it over. The Wildcats scored four goals in about seven minutes to close the first half in order to take a 5-0 halftime lead, all but securing the result. By the halftime interval, junior Maci Bradford had a hat trick to take her season goals total to 52.

During this barrage, Emmaus’ leading goal-scorer Ava Zerfass put the Hornets on the board with her 54th goal of the season two minutes before the halftime break.

With 30 minutes to go in their respective seasons, it was up to Delmar to see out the last half of their championship season. Emmaus, however, had the task of holding onto a one-goal lead against Lower Dauphin.

The subtext in this game is the fact that the coaches in the PIAA Class AAA championship are amongst the finest in the craft. Between head coaches Susan Butz-Stavin and Linda Kreiser, there were nearly 1,900 coaching victories on the sidelines.

Eventually, Emmaus got that last victory, but not without an heroic performance by sophomore goalkeeper Emma Cari. As often happens late in a season, goalkeepers which may not have had a lot of shots against them in games the rest of the season will have benefitted from receiving the best shots from their teammates in practice.

Cari stood strong on the final minutes as Lower Dauphin circled the Emmaus attack zone and got off some telling shots. But the sophomore batted them away with confidence. The one sequence that will be etched in Emmaus lore forever will be Cari’s save and clear on a backhand shot by LD’s Avery Pollock.

In this year, “The Year Of The Backhand,” many of these shots have gone in. But Cari said “no.” It was enough for an Emmaus title, the 14th for the Hornets and Butz-Stavin.

And down the coast, Delmar saw out an 8-0 win, which was good enough for the Cats’ 96th consecutive win, third-longest in National Federation history.