HAZLETON ‚?? Two months into your high school life can be a time of great joy and awkward moments.
There were no awkward moments for Crestwood‚??s Ashleigh Thomas on Tuesday, just great joy.
The freshman scored on the first shot of the second half to lift the Comets into the PIAA Class 2A field hockey quarterfinals after beating Hamburg, 1-0, at Harman-Geist Stadium.
‚??It feels great. It really does,‚?Ě Thomas said of scoring the state-playoff winning goal. ‚??I‚??m just glad we‚??re moving on to the next game. I couldn‚??t have done it without a great pass from Marissa.‚?Ě
The game-winning play was started by a determined effort by junior Marissa Surdy. Taking a long lead pass from Morgan Kile, Surdy battled a Hamburg defender for position and for a lane to the goal.
Surdy worked back and forth along the end line, unable to shake free the first time, or the second. Then she found a lane and threaded the ball through to Thomas, a freshman who had an impressive debut season with the Comets (20-2).
Thomas pounded the ball into the gaping net for her 14th goal of the season.
‚??That was a great effort by Marissa,‚?Ě Crestwood coach Elvetta Gemski said. ‚??She just fought it out and worked and worked. She just kept going no matter what.‚?Ě
‚??I was really anxious to help her out,‚?Ě Thomas said. ‚??But I know I‚??ve got to stay on my post. I‚??ve got to trust her to get through and I‚??ve got to be ready.‚?Ě
Hamburg (18-7) came right back with its best chance of the night right after the tally, with Hannah Shirk getting off a shot from about 10 yards out. Crestwood goalie Dallas Kendra made a kick save, but the rebound went right to Brianna Richards.
Richards had an empty goal in front of her, but after her shot it was still empty, thanks to the reaching defensive save by Crestwood junior Megan McCole.
‚??I thought pretty much this was a display of great play by the backs,‚?Ě Gemski said. ‚??Our defense is very tough, and they played a very tough defense.
‚??You‚??ve got to credit the Hamburg defense (with the tight game). They had great sticks in there. It was very difficult to get past their back players.‚?Ě
Crestwood had six more corners and three more shots than the fourth-place team from District 3.
The Comets‚?? defense clamped down the rest of the way. Connecticut recruit Karlie Heistand tried to work her way through the Crestwood backs, but ran into Iowa commit Chandler Ackers and her teammates.
One last bit of drama came after Crestwood had two great opportunities on a penalty corner in the final minute, only to have the Hawks come back 3-on-2 in transition. Rachael Ritz broke up the odd-man rush, and had another tackle in the final seconds to keep Hamburg well outside the 25.
Crestwood advances to the state quarterfinals Saturday against District 4 champion Selinsgrove, a 3-2 winner over District 1 runner-up Upper Perkiomen. The site and time are still to be determined.
Crestwood 1, Hamburg 0
Second half: 1. CRE, Ashleigh Thomas (Marissa Surdy), 28:37.
Shots: HAM 5, CRE 8; Saves: HAM 4 (Nikki James), CRE 4 (Dallas Kendra); Corners: HAM 3, CRE 9.
‚?Ę Crestwood 1, Hamburg 0
‚?Ę Wyoming Seminary 2,
Southern Lehigh 1
‚?Ę Coughlin 2, Stroudsburg 1