HAZLETON – Coughlin ran the perfect play, and now the Crusaders are marching perfectly into the PIAA Class 3A field hockey quarterfinals.
A three-player passing play covered nearly half the field, ending with Madysen Jones scoring the winning goal with 6:28 remaining in Coughlin's 2-1 triumph over Stroudsburg in the first round of the tournament Tuesday.
This is the greatest feeling ever, Jones said of her first state tourney game-winning goal. I've been waiting for this since freshman year (Coughlin's last trip to states).
The play started with Katie Colleran cutting off the Mountaineers in transition. More than 40 yards from the goal, she looked ahead and started a big swing of her stick. Looking like she was going to launch the ball toward the far end line, Colleran took a little off her swing as she followed through.
Colleran refused to waste the opportunity, and instead placed a perfect pass upfield to Caitlin Wood in stride.
Wood took in the long touch pass and broke into the circle from the right wing. The Stroudsburg defense gravitated toward the senior, who looked as if she was winding up for a reverse-stick blast at goalie Taylor Ross.
But Wood saw Jones just across the goalmouth, and put a pinpoint pass across to the Crusaders' top scorer. Jones made no mistake slamming the ball into the goal for her 18th marker of the season.
Caitlin had a great hit in to me, Jones said. And (Katie's play) that was such a good pass, too.
Coughlin scored on the first shot of the second half to break a scoreless tie. Brigid Wood gained possession and dribbled inside the Stroudsburg 25. She sent a lead pass to the left side looking for Kaitlyn Lukashewski but it did not connect.
That was the best thing to happen to the Crusaders, as the ball continued on to Kyra Castano. The sophomore went against the grain, sending a blast to the long side of the goal, past the left boot of Ross and inside the far post with 28 minutes remaining.
We had so many opportunities that just wouldn't fall for us, coach Colleen Wood said of the first half.
Stroudsburg did convert a corner 10 minutes later to tie the game at 1, as Rebecca Adelmann tipped home a ball played to her by Jennifer Bukowski. But the Mountaineers were thoroughly out-chanced by the Crusaders in this one.
Coughlin held a 13-5 edge in shots and 9-4 in penalty corners. The Crusaders also had a 9-2 edge in long corners, including four in the first five minutes of the game and the first eight overall.
I was really nervous when they scored against us, Jones said. In games like these when it's hard to get goals, we got one and they got one right back. And we had so many shots on goal.
When Stroudsburg tried to advance the ball, a backline of Dominique Oko, Colleran, Haley Waslasky and Sarah Zbierski was nearly flawless in making stops. Waslasky finished in double-figures in tackles.
Haley really had a phenomenal game on D, Coach Wood said. They are all doing what they need to do. They know that when they play together and play as a team, good things will happen.
I'm so impressed with the way they are coming together and doing it now.
The victory gave the Crusaders their first state tournament win since 2005 and plenty of smiling faces as they left the field.
Good luck, Crestwood, offered Waslasky as the teams traded benches between the two games at the stadium.
Coughlin advances to the state quarterfinals Saturday against either District 1 runner-up Unionville or District 3 third-place team Hempfield. They play their first round match today at 1 p.m. at Central Bucks West.
Coughlin 2, Stroudsburg 1
Second half: 1. COU, Kyra Castano (Brigid Wood), 27:51; 2. STR, Rebecca Adelmann (Jennifer Bukowski), 17:39; 3. COU, Madysen Jones (Caitlin Wood), 6:28.
Shots: STR 5, COU 13; Saves: STR 5 (Taylor Ross), COU 3 (Paige Tedik); Defensive saves: STR, Madi Liedberg, Taylor Parker, Corners: STR 4, COU 9.