KINGSTON — The defending state champions played as if they’d been there before. But so did their opponent.
Crestwood controlled play through most of the game, advancing to PIAA Class 2A field hockey quarterfinals with a 3-1 victory over Boiling Springs on Tuesday.
But it was not an easy path out of the first round.
“We know it’s a new season,” said Comets sophomore Elizabeth Dessoye, who took a shot in the face during the game and had a bag of ice on her hand afterward. “Yeah, we won states last year, but that’s meaningless now. We just have to take one game at a time now.”
Ashleigh Thomas, Marissa Surdy and Dessoye each had goals for the Comets (22-0), who won their 37th consecutive game. Crestwood maintained a steady advantage in field position and statistically on its way to becoming the only team this season to score three goals against Delaney Gitt and the Bubblers.
“We don’t look at the placement of teams,” Comets coach Elvetta Gemski said of the fourth-place team from District 3, which was undefeated until its district tournament. “It doesn’t mean anything. Everyone is equal now. We just strive to have our team ready.”
The Bubblers (19-3-1), in their first PIAA game, showed no fear early against the Comets. They had a couple of early forays into the Crestwood circle and managed a penalty corner and a shot that went wide.
The Comets then tilted the field in their favor, rolling to five corners and two goals in a 13-minute span — and it could have been more. Casey Cole had a shot on a corner knocked down by Bubbler defender Chelsea Anderson. Maury Cronauer had her redirection stopped by another Boiling Springs back, Elisha Hallett. Thomas rang a rebound off the post and Dessoye’s shot into the top corner of the goal was called back on a foul.
But Thomas batted in a rebound of a Surdy shot for an early lead. And Surdy rushed into the circle to sink a penalty stroke, beating Gitt board-high to the stick side.
“Luckily, they’re subs,” Gemski laughed about getting her top scorer into the game for the stroke, as she was getting a drink at the bench when the whistle blew. “That’s part of the rule book. She did a great job getting in there and taking that shot.”
The Bubblers got on the board with no time remaining in the first half on a combination play off a corner. Shannon Susi finished the five-player passing effort by shoveling the ball into the Comets goal.
“That was not how we wanted to go into halftime,” Gemski said. “Boiling Springs played a really hard game. They could have forced the momentum to change at any time. We had to focus on coming out of halftime strong.”
That was as good as it got for Boiling Springs, as top scorer Mary Spisak (30 goals) did not get a shot on goal.
“We knew we had to keep an eye on her,” Dessoye said. “We didn’t keep any one player on her. We just made sure we knew where she was at all times, and made sure someone was on her.”
Crestwood took over after the break, holding Boiling Springs to three shots over the final 30 minutes. Meanwhile, the Comets tacked on an insurance goal as Dessoye lifted a rebound over a fallen Gitt with nine minutes to play.
“All I know is the ball was free in the circle,” Dessoye said. “As soon as I looked up and saw the open net, I tried to use all my power to hit that corner.
“It was right after I got that card,” the sophomore added, as she picked up a green card with 12:09 remaining on a play that had Spisak protesting at first, believing the call was on her. “I just wanted to get right back out there and help my team.”
Crestwood advances to play District 11 champion Southern Lehigh, a 1-0 winner over District 1 runner-up Merion Mercy, on Saturday at a site and time to be determined.
Crestwood 3, Boiling Springs 1
First half — 1. CRE, Ashleigh Thomas, 19:07; 2. CRE, Marissa Surdy (penalty stroke), 9:04; 3. BSP, Shannon Susi (Casey Dombroski). Second half — 4. CRE, Elizabeth Dessoye, 9:18.
Shots — BSP 9; CRE 19. Saves — BSP 13 (Delaney Gitt); CRE 3 (Dallas Kendra). Penalty corners — BSP 7; CRE 12. Defensive saves — BSP, Chelsea Anderson, Elisha Hallett.