Spartans Knocked Off In 2A Semifinals
EMMAUS — District 3’s field hockey dominance was on display Tuesday night in the PIAA state semifinals.
District 2 champion Valley West was the only non-District 3 team left in the Class 2A bracket, but the Spartans saw their season end with a 3-1 loss to District 3 runner-up Palmyra.
Donegal beat Twin Valley in the other 2A semifinal to set up a District 3 title game rematch Saturday for the state championship.
Valley West fell just short of a repeat trip to the state championship at Whitehall High School, where they lost 2-1 to Villa Maria in 2017.
The Spartans (17-4-1) polished off another great season, however, after graduating six starters.
Palmyra (19-5-1) struck early Tuesday at Emmaus High School. Junior Lauren Wadas scored midway through the first half when she hammered a shot from near the top of the circle into the cage.
She added assists on penalty-corner goals, firing rockets that were tipped in by Anna Miller and Nicole Shenk as the Cougars took a 3-0 halftime lead.
Aggravating the situation, Valley West senior Karaline Stelma fell awkwardly with 13 seconds left in the half, staying down for a couple minutes. The team’s co-leading scorer with 18 goals, Stelma started the second half and appeared fine despite banging her kneecap. While her physical health recovered, the Lock Haven recruit teared up after ending her scholastic career.
“They just had really good passing,” she said of Palmyra, “and everyone was good. I feel like we played a pretty good game. It’s hard because I’m going to miss playing with these girls, and the coaches.”
Valley West played a solid second half. Stelma and the Spartans rallied to make the statistical comparison closer: shots (6-5 Palmyra) and corners (7-3 Palmyra).
When speedy junior Rina Tsioles scored on a drifting blast with just over 10 minutes remaining, the shutout was gone, and hope made an appearance. The Old Dominion recruit’s seventh goal gave Valley West the second-half advantage, but the early damage by Palmyra — a team that starts four freshmen and only two seniors, one being the goalkeeper who switched from soccer two years ago — held up.
“In our division,” Palmyra coach Kent Harshman said, “there were three teams playing tonight. That really prepares us for the postseason.”
One, Hershey, jumped ahead of Emmaus 5-0 to enforce the mercy rule in 3A. The Green Hornets rallied to within 5-3. In the other 3A semifinal, Palmyra’s division mate Lower Dauphin edged Wilson, 1-0, creating an intra-division matchup for state gold.
District 2’s Wyoming Seminary will be the only non-District 3 state finalist.
A Palmyra assistant coach said the reason the Cougars had played up a level in 3A the past four years despite being a 2A-sized school was that the bigger schools wouldn’t schedule them, afraid of losing key playoff points. Palmyra was co-state champs in 3A in 2014. They won the 2A title in 2005.
Wadas will lead a young lineup into another final.
“Our younger players have improved,” she said. “Once they came up (from an unbeaten middle school team) they fit right in.”
The Spartans can reflect on a successful season in which they faced three state finalists, finishing 0-3 against Lower Dauphin, Palmyra and Wyoming Seminary.
They also tied Selinsgrove, a 2A state quarterfinalist, and beat CB East, a 3A quarterfinalist.
Against everyone else, they went 16-1.
Valley West saw its nine-game winning streak end. They dominated their opponents at the close of the season, outscoring them 39-1 between an Oct. 8 loss and Tuesday.
FIRST HALF: Lauren Wadas (P) unassisted; Anna Miller (P) from Wadas; Nicole Shenk (P) from Wadas. SECOND HALF: Rina Tsioles (VW) unassisted.
SHOTS: Pal 6, VW 5. SAVES: Pal 3 (Ashton Byrd), VW 5 (Sydney Rusnock). CORNERS: Pal 7, VW 3.