Latest Sem Champion Ranks As One Of The Greatest
And so, it’s settled. The 2018 Wyoming Seminary Blue Knights are one of the greatest field hockey teams to ever come out of District 2.
That goes without saying to some degree — any state champion is clearly among the elite, as the Wyoming Valley Conference has produced 15 state champion teams (Crestwood in 1988, ’99, ’03, ’04 and ’12; Lake-Lehman ’96 and ’02; Sem ’01, ’06, ’08, ’10, ’11, ’13 and ’18; Valley West ’03).
But, if those 15 teams were broken down into subcategories, 2018 Sem belongs in the upper echelon — for many reasons.
For one, Sem’s 2-0 triumph against Newport in Saturday’s PIAA Class A title game was a statement; not just for Sem, but for the WVC.
And that statement — to every league and team across the state — is that a WVC team is back on top.
It’s hard to believe four-plus years had passed since Sem and Crestwood went head-to-head in the 2013 Class 2A championship game.
From 2014 to 2017, Crestwood, Valley West and Sem all played for state titles, but lost. Local teams in other sports, like Holy Redeemer softball and Dallas baseball, won state championships while field hockey teams struggled to do the same.
It could be a long time before WVC field hockey endures another four-year window without any state champs.
Sem’s roster and schedule are further proof of its greatness.
First, the roster.
Hannah Maxwell’s going to play at Wake Forest. Alex Wesneski, Iowa. Aubrey Mytych, Penn State. Kelsey Reznick, Duke. Bari Lefkowitz, Northwestern.
When all’s said and done, there’s likely a few more big-time college prospects in Sem’s freshman and sophomore classes.
The talent on this team was truly remarkable — even by Sem’s high standards — and more often than not, it showed with the results.
Sem lost only two games this season; one to the Kentucky state champ, another to the New Jersey state champ. Only one team tied Sem and it was Wyoming Area, which was a state quarterfinalist.
Sem won its three district playoff games by a combined score of 27-2. Then, it won its four games in the state tournament, 20-0.
I repeat: Sem scored 20 goals and allowed zero in the state tournament, facing Pennsylvania’s Class A cream of the crop.
Compare that with 2013, when Sem won the state championship, but actually lost the district final.
So, go back even further to 2011, when, like this year, Sem won District 2 and PIAA championships. But the scores by which Sem outscored its opponents were much closer — 8-3 in districts and 11-5 in states.
While we’re at it, let’s go back even further to 2006.
Perhaps that’s when Sem set the gold standard, achieving a 24-0 record with district and state championships, as well as a national No. 2 ranking and three first-team All-Americans, including future Olympians Kat Sharkey and Kelsey Kolojejchick.
In hindsight, that team looks unbeatable, especially considering it played in the old two-classification system when playoff brackets were more loaded than they are today.
Sem now has a few months to revel in its spectacular success, a slump-busting, high-scoring, shutout-recording, star-studded season that will long be remembered.
If history is any indicator, though, Sem will absolutely not be resting on its laurels in 2019.
“There’ll never be a season like that again,” head coach Karen Klassner said of 2006 at the start of the 2007 season. “I told the girls at our first practice that last year is over and now we concentrate on this year. Especially because we know the bull’s-eye is on us.”
The more things change, the more they stay the same, right?
The 2019 campaign will feature all eyes on Wyoming Seminary, as the Blue Knights try repeating as state champs.
Every team will throw its best shot at Sem, trying to beat the team they’ve read and heard so much about.
I’m sure Klassner and her players would have it no other way.
Matt Bufano covers WVC field hockey for The Citizens’ Voice. He can be reached at email@example.com.