The playoff matchups are set, with District 2 field hockey action starting today in Class 3A and Tuesday in Class 2A.
Nine of the 13 playoff teams have at least nine Wyoming Valley Conference victories this season, making it one of the deeper tournaments in recent memory. For comparison, last season saw just seven teams with at least nine wins in a tournament under the same format.
The last time nine teams entered the postseason with at least nine wins was 2011, but that was when the district tournament allowed for 15 entries.
Here’s a quick look at the games coming up in the next few days …
Honesdale (4-10) at Delaware Valley (4-9-1) — The Hornets won last Monday to earn a playoff spot. The triumph (1-0 over Nanticoke) was their only one over a playoff team. They started 3-2 in league, then lost eight straight in the WVC. Honesdale played in the district final last season.
The Warriors blanked Wallenpaupack on Tuesday, giving them consecutive wins to earn home field today. They gave up 13 goals in their first two WVC games, then just 23 in the final 12. Delaware Valley finished strong, going 3-1-1 in its final five games.
This season, Delaware Valley downed Honesdale 2-0 on Oct. 1. Their last playoff meeting was in 2009, when the Hornets won a 3A quarterfinal 3-2 in overtime.
Coughlin (9-5) at Hazleton Area (10-4) — The defending district 3A champs could be the postseason’s enigma. They started 7-1, including three consecutive wins in overtime. They then lost just 2-0 to defending Class 2A champ Crestwood, among the best showings of any WVC team against the Comets. But that loss was the beginning of a 2-4 stretch that took Coughlin from competing for the No. 1 seed to going on the road. The No. 3 seed is as capable as anyone to earn a ticket to states.
The Cougars are continuing their climb into the elite, as just a couple of years ago, Hazleton Area wasn’t even a playoff team. In their third consecutive postseason, the Cougars are hosting a semifinal for the first time in that stretch. They had a run of seven shutouts in eight games and gave up 27 goals in 14 WVC games. It’s been an all-or-nothing kind of season, though, as 23 of those goals came in five games. Hazleton Area is two wins away from its first state tournament appearance.
This season, Hazleton Area defeated Coughlin 1-0 at Harman-Geist.
Honesdale or Delaware Valley at Wyoming Valley West (12-2) — The Spartans had a slow start this year after sending six players to Division I colleges after last season. They lost their WVC opener to Holy Redeemer, then went to overtime against Wyoming Area and Dallas. After scoring eight goals in their first five games (including those two OTs), WVW has averaged 3.8 goals per game and have won 13 of their last 14 overall to set themselves up as the team to beat in the bracket.
This season, Wyoming Valley West defeated Delaware Valley 2-1 on Sept. 11, and downed Honesdale 2-1 on Oct. 10. The Spartans last playoff meeting against the Warriors was a 5-1 semifinal win in 2010, and the Hornets own a 2-1 overtime win in the district semifinals last season.
Pittston Area (12-1-1) at Crestwood (14-0) — The Patriots have been in playoff mode, needing to win to stay ahead of Meyers for the Division 2 title, the first division championship for the program. Pittston Area is unbeaten in its last 11 WVC games, and posted a quality loss against Hazleton Area, 2-0 on Sept. 14.
The Comets have won 33 straight, including the state championship in 2012. With nine starters back from the title team, Crestwood is considered a favorite to win the district tournament, but the players and coaches know there are no gimmes in the playoffs. Crestwood’s average margin of victory this year is 5.1 goals, and only three of its 18 games were decided by two goals or less.
Holy Redeemer (9-4-1) at Dallas (9-4-1) — The Royals finished the season strong, winning five of their final six. They are looking for their fourth straight trip to the district semis and first trip to the district final. Two is their magic number, as the Royals are undefeated in the nine games in which they’ve scored at least two goals.
The Mountaineers finished even better than Redeemer, going undefeated in their last six games. Notable during that finishing kick is the 30 goals scored by Dallas, as the outburst included games against playoff teams Wyoming Seminary, Honesdale and Hazleton Area. Vanessa Parsons scored 16 goals during the streak, including a double hat trick at Wallenpaupack.
This season, Dallas won their lone meeting in overtime, 2-1 on Sept. 20.
Wyoming Area (6-8) at Lake-Lehman (9-4-1) — The Warriors are right where they were a season ago, entering the tourney as underdogs. They reached the semis last year, so they should come in confident. Wyoming Area has been a team of streaks, losing four in a row, then winning six straight and closing with three consecutive losses.
The Black Knights could have had the best JV team in the state, but all those youngsters are with the varsity. And they’ve got Lehman at home to open the tourney with their great play. They were torched by Crestwood for six goals in the first nine minutes of their Sept. 24 game, but from the 10-minute mark of that one through the end of the regular season, they have a goals against average of 0.98.
This season, Lake-Lehman won their lone meeting in weather-shortened game, 1-0 on Sept. 12.
Nanticoke (2-12) at Wyoming Seminary (10-3-1) —The Trojanettes showed the improvement they hoped to, even if their record isn’t shiny. This is their third consecutive trip to the district tourney, though their last win came in 2011 in a first round game against Elk Lake. Now, there’s no more first round games, and the now Division 2 only gets one entry instead of three (Elk Lake was a second-place team).
The Blue Knights, the 2010 and 2011 state champs, have reached the district finals in each of the past five years. Sem reached overtime in five of its final 10 games, so the new faces from this season are familiar with playing in pressure situations. Mallory Lefkowitz had points in all but three games during the regular season.
This season, Wyoming Seminary won their lone meeting, 4-0 on Oct. 10.
In one of the stranger turns of events, none of these matchups have occurred during the previous seven district tournament.
There were a few more teams who had their seasons officially end last week, as they stayed in playoff contention to the end. Here’s a quick look at who’s out …
Lackawanna Trail — The Lions (3-10-1) appear to have a bright future, but an 0-6-1 finish in league play torpedoed their playoff hopes. The offense had 15 goals in the first half of the season, including four against Hazleton Area, but just three goals during its final seven games. A loss to Honesdale, which finished a half-game ahead, and a tie with Delaware Valley (one game ahead), was the difference in making the district tournament. Trail was that close.
Meyers — The Mohawks (11-2-1) went to the last day of the season chasing their first playoff berth since 2010. The only team ahead of them in Division 2 was Pittston Area, which had a win and a tie in their two overtime meetings. That means Meyers was literally one goal from a share of the division crown. In three must-win games to finish the season, the Mohawks did so, outscoring opponents 8-1. But the Patriots did not falter.
Tunkhannock — The Tigers (8-5-1) used a nice four-game winning streak to open the second half of the season to separate themselves from the middle of Division 2. They had to defeat Meyers and Pittston Area in the final week to have a chance. They played valiantly but just couldn’t score the upset (for lack of a better term). The Tigers showed a deep offensive presence in their lineup, posting goals in every game until the season finale.