KINGSTON — The last time Wyoming Valley West Spartans won a PIAA playoff game, their seniors were just starting high school and their current crop of fabulous freshmen were in grade school.
But it didn’t take long for Cameron Forgash to get swept away by a feeling of success at states.
Forgash assisted on the first goal Tuesday and scored the second, lifting the Spartans over Upper Perkiomen, 2-1, and into the PIAA Class 2A field hockey quarterfinals with their first state victory since 2014 at Nesbitt Field.
“It’s been really exciting, as a freshman, to start off like that,” Forgash said. “I hope to continue it.”
Two-time District 2 champ Valley West (16-1) will continue on to Saturday’s second round against either District 4 winner Selinsgrove or East Pennsboro, the No. 3 team from District 3.
Valley West was the only Class 2A team from the Wyoming Valley Conference to survive the opening day of state play, as District 2 runner-up Crestwood fell to Twin Valley, 5-1.
The Spartans did it by striking quickly, as Forgash passed to Rina Tsioles — who swatted the game’s first goal into the cage off a penalty corner just 5:23 into the game.
“We always come out, we like to push the ball, push the intensity,” Tsioles said. “I’m right post. I saw it trickle to the right and shot it. Scoring in the beginning gives us a push in intensity. It gives us confidence to score more.”
Just 1:48 before halftime, Forgash followed a hard, blocked shot off the stick of Madison Woods and pushed it across the goal line for a 2-0 Spartans lead.
“It went through the goalie’s legs from Madison,” Forgash said. “I just tapped it in. It was good to start us off in front, to shock the other team.”
At this point, nothing Forgash accomplishes seems to be a surprise to the Spartans, who watched her develop into one of the most dangerous scorers in the Wyoming Valley Conference over the second half of the season.
“Cameron’s a total team player,” Valley West coach Linda Fithian said.
That two-goal lead was plenty for the Spartans, who spent much of the second half around the Upper Perkiomen circle but didn’t cash in.
They didn’t need to, using a lock-down defense that held Upper Perkiomen to Hope Flack’s lone goal early in the second half to advance to the state quarters.
“At halftime, we talked about what we can improve upon,” Fithian said.
It helped Valley West improve upon last year’s run, when a District 2 title only led to a first-round state exit. With Tuesday’s victory, the Spartans won in states for the first time since beating Council Rock North three years ago, 2-1, before falling to Emmaus 3-1 in the state quarterfinals.
“It feels so good to me,” Tsioles said, “especially since last year, we lost in the first round. It gives us confidence continuing into states.”
PIAA CLASS 2A FIRST ROUND
Wyoming Valley West 2, Upper Perkiomen 1
Wyoming Valley West`2`0`—`2
First half — 1. WVW, Rina Tsioles (Cameron Forgash), 23:35; 2. WVW, Forgash (Madison Woods), 1:48. Second half — 3. UP, Hope Flack, 24:37.
Shots — UP 5; WVW 10. Saves — UP 8 (Alice Thompson); WVW 4 (Nikki Hartzel, Sydney Rusnock). Penalty corners — UP 6; WVW 10.