A team still smarting over a failed bid to become a state champion one year brings plenty of key players back the next who are bent on a shot at state playoff redemption.
That was Wyoming Seminary last season, chasing down Greenwood in a 4-0 victory in the 2018 state semifinals while gaining a good dose of revenge for the PIAA gold medal Greenwood took off the Blue Knights with a 2-1 win in the 2017 state championship game.
It’s also Newport this year, trying to avenge last year’s 2-0 state championship loss to Sem when they meet today in the PIAA Class A quarterfinals.
So the shoe’s on the other foot this time for District 2 champion Sem, which is bracing for the same kind of storm against Newport in a noon PIAA quarterfinal game today at Central Columbia High School that the Blue Knights, themselves, swept up in the state playoffs nearly one year ago.
“We discussed it with our team,” Sem coach Karen Klassner said. “We told them to think about how we felt playing Greenwood last year. And that Newport would probably have that same attitude coming in.”
Sometimes, attitude can go a long way in shaping the state field hockey playoffs, where Wyoming Area seeks its first-ever Class A quarterfinal win in a matchup with Boiling Springs at 2 p.m. and Wyoming Valley West follows at 4 p.m. with a Class 2A quarterfinal game against Northern York, both at Whitehall’s Zephyr Sports Complex.
“Everyone is good when you reach this point,” said Klassner, whose motivated Blue Knights took care of their mission to get even with Greenwood and return a handful of players who were part of both runs to the past two state title games. “But you’ve got to execute.”
PIAA CLASS A QUARTERFINALS
WYOMING SEM (20-2)
vs. NEWPORT (15-5-1)
Noon at Central Columbia HS
It looked like a strong state opener for Sem, which pasted a Bishop McDevitt team making its debut in the PIAA playoffs by a 5-0 score in the first round.
But it took Sem an awful long time to get going.
Hannah Maxwell broke the ice with the game’s first goal 2:48 from halftime and finished with a hat trick, but some choppy play during their first 30 minutes of 2019 state play was cause for concern for the 20-2 and District 2 champion Blue Knights.
“We weren’t really gelling in the first half,” Maxwell said. “We’ve got a lot to work on.”
District 3 No. 5 seed Newport worked a 3-0 upset of District 11 champ Northwestern Lehigh in the first round and features three of the top five scorers in school history. Ball State commit Rachel Bohn has over 100 career goals and registered another one last week, while Sophia Shoemaker and Olivia Muffitt both have over 100 points. for the 15-5-1 Buffaloes.
They’re all back from last year to face Maxwell, Alex Wesneski, Bari Lefkowitz and goalie Mia Magnotta in a rematch of last year’s Class A state title game.
“We’re trying to correct the mistakes we made the other night (against McDevitt),” Sem coach Karen Klassner said. “If we don’t, we won’t be going into the semifinals.”
WYOMING AREA (19-2-1)
vs. BOILING SPRINGS (19-3-1)
2 p.m. at Whitehall HS
Toni Minichello’s on a tear for Wyoming Area, and that could be bad news for whoever she steps up against in states.
The sophomore forward assisted on Lauren Parente’s first goal, then ripped two herself in a 3-0 victory over Lewisburg in the first PIAA round. But Kayla Kiwak and Kari Melberger are also forces for the District 2 champion Warriors, who are playing in their fourth-ever state game — all over the past two years — and looking to advance to the PIAA semifinals for the first time in school history.
Lexi Hanlin scored the game’s only goal in a second overtime off an assist from Reagan Eickoff as District 3 No. 3 team Boiling Springs upended District 7 champion Shady Side Academy, 1-0 in another state opener.
Goalie Carly Galbraith made six saves in the game for the Bubblers and Paige Bond, Brinn Mancuso and Emma Bounds are the team’s top scorers while Kate Dombroski keeps dishing out plenty of assists.
Boiling Springs also has some extra motivation. The Bubblers dedicated this season to the school’s former athletic director and 36-year basketball coach Pat Dieter, who passed away in February, by wearing his initials on their headbands.
PIAA CLASS 2A QUARTERFINALS
VALLEY WEST (13-3-1)
vs. NORTHERN YORK (20-4)
4 p.m. at Whitehall HS
Leave it to Cameryn Forgash to make something happen for Valley West.
It was Forgash who collected a rebound midway through the second half and banked a touch pass off the goalie and onto the stick of Ari Rupnik, who deposited the game’s only goal on her second try in succession to lift the District 2 champion Spartans over Bishop Shanahan, 1-0 in the first round of states.
Forgash also had an assist in a 2-0 District 2 title victory and was one of the top WVC assist leaders during the regular season. Rupnik, a transfer student from Germany, has a goal in all three of Valley West’s postseason games and seniors Paige Williams and playmaking Rina Tsioles are also dangerous in the circle as the Spartans seek a third straight trip to the state semifinals.
Goalie Sydney Rusnock has been fabulous, stopping all eight shots she’s faced in three postseason games for the Spartans.
They’ll get a test from District 3 No. 4 team Northern York, which beat up District 11 champ Bangor 6-1 in a state opener.
Liberty commit Kelsey Heltzel, a junior and Duke commit Brynn Crouse, a sophomore, are both among Max Field Hockey’s Top 100 high school players.
Crouse finished with two goals and two assists against Bangor and Heltzel scored the wrap-up goal as the Polar Bears came back from an early one-goal deficit against Bangor.