First Posted: 10/24/2013
KINGSTON – Karen Klassner knew it was going to be a battle.
The Wyoming Seminary head coach has been in the coaching realm long enough to understand that her Blue Knights are going to have to step up their game to achieve their next goal of obtaining a district title.
Morgan Malone found the back of the cage twice in the opening 30 minutes, and junior Alexis Quick tallied a second-half goal as Wyoming Seminary eliminated Wyoming Area, 3-0, in the District 2 Class 2A field hockey semifinals Thursday.
Seminary, which automatically qualifies for states because of the victory, faces off with top-seeded Crestwood for the championship next week.
It was just two weeks ago the Blue Knights needed overtime to edge the Warriors, 1-0.
Now you understand why Klassner was cautious entering the semifinal.
“Our goal was to get to states, and we played just well enough to win,” Klassner said. “We really had some trouble when we played them at Wyoming Area. We need to beat Crestwood in the district final. The team that goes out as the No. 1 seed is going to be OK. The No. 2 seed from our district is going to have a tough road, starting with Selinsgrove – a team that we already lost to 4-1. But you have to play the best to get there.”
It was a different Wyoming Area team from the first matchup. Because of an injury, freshman goalkeeper Lexi Crossley was pushed into her first varsity start.
Give the freshman credit because she held her own against a team that won state titles in 2010 and 2011, and reached the state quarterfinals one season ago.
Crossley thwarted several point-blank opportunities Seminary had, and made several sensational kick saves on 2-on-1 breaks, stopping 16 of the 21 shots sent her way.
“It was hard for Lexi, and she did well,” Wyoming Area head coach Lunda Comiskey said. “Even as a coach, I wondered how prepared she was. She is such a nice athlete with good hand-eye coordination. Their defense was tough, but we let them receive the ball. We needed to go at them, and make it a little tougher on them.”
The problem was the Wyoming Area defense couldn’t hold down Malone for too long.
She needed just three minutes, taking the feed from Gabrielle Grossman and shooting cross-cage for the 1-0 Seminary lead.
Malone’s second goal was just straight power.
Working with numbers in Seminary’s favor, the forward lined up the shot and released a missile toward the near corner of the cage; a shot that Crossley didn’t have a chance to react to.
“She is a senior, and we are pretty strong up the middle,” Klassner said. “That’s our bread and butter with our three captains there. We need them to play well.”
The two-goal edge was almost insurmountable, thanks to stifling defense by the Blue Knights.
Wyoming Area had only one shot, which trickled harmlessly near the goal, and couldn’t manage any shot opportunities on its three penalty corners.
“Defensively, we’ve been strong all year. We might have the leading defense as far as what we’ve given up goal-wise,” Klassner said. “Issy (Isabella Del Priore) played an amazing game, and Mackenzie (Gagliardi) is strong in goal. Tali Dressler also played pretty well. We were pleased with that aspect. Right now, we have to put the ball in the cage a little more.”
Wyoming Seminary added its final goal with 24 minutes left in the match as Quick took a feed from Molly Turner right in front of the cage, and snuck the shot past Crossley for the 3-0 lead.
Wyoming Seminary 3, Wyoming Area 0
Wyoming Area`0`0 – 0
Wyoming Seminary`2`1 – 3
First Half: 1. SEM – Morgan Malone (Gabrielle Grossman), 27:13; 2. SEM – Malone, 3:05. Second Half: 3. SEM – Alexis Quick (Molly Turner), 24:29.
Shots: SEM 21, WA 1. Saves: SEM 1 (Mackenzie Gagliardi), WA 16 (Lexi Crossley). Corners: SEM 12, WA 3.