NANTICOKE AREA — Despite the discomforting heat and humidity, Veronica Penko just kept pushing.
And her extended, all-out effort paid off at the very end.
Penko fought through a scrum and nudged the winning shot across the goal line more than nine minutes into overtime Wednesday as Nanticoke Area edged GAR, 4-3 in a high school field hockey game between two programs trying to fight their way back to respectability at Nanticoke’s West Side Park.
“It was exciting for us to win,” said Penko, who helped the Trojanettes improve to 2-3 on the season. “It’s good competition. We both played very well.”
So well, in fact, it took a little extra time to decide a winner.
Penko’s final goal wasn’t immediately allowed, as officials huddled to decide if the ball actually crossed the goal line.
They ultimately decided the goal was good, sending the Trojanettes into gleeful leaps on the sideline, while some GAR players slammed down their sticks in frustration.
That may have been a good sign for a Grenadiers program that just broke a 26-game league losing streak with its first win in more than two calendar years Monday, then played hard into overtime while trying for a second straight victory.
“Oh, they care,” said first-year GAR coach Hannah Beech, whose team has lost twice in overtime to go with its first win since 2016 over the past eight days. “The feelings of dejection and sadness can be used in a positive way. It was a heartbreaker today.
“We can’t give up.”
The Grenadiers never did, rallying to tie the game twice after taking an early lead — and just missing on a shot at victory in overtime.
“They definitely put up a good competition this year,” Penko said. “They fought better than before, and gave us a run for our money.”
But Penko and the Trojanettes never stopped running, even when fatigue from playing into overtime on an 92-degree afternoon began setting in.
With 5:39 remaining in the 15-minute extra session, Nanticoke Area mustered up a rush to the net off a penalty stroke, and Penko noticed the ball was hung up on the goal mouth.
“It was on the line at first,” Penko said. “We kept pushing, to eventually get it over. When I saw it was on the line, I just kept pushing it and got it in.”
Although the call wasn’t immediately made, Penko was sure she shoved it into the cage.
“We got it across,” Penko said. “Just kept pushing. It’s exciting.”
GAR wasn’t so sure.
“We certainly didn’t think it was there,” Beech said. “But you have to take the good with the bad and just keep moving forward.”
Even with the loss, though, GAR kept moving toward better times by making things tough on opposing teams.
The Grenadiers jumped up early, when Haley Ford scored the game’s first goal with 17:21 remaining in the first half.
But Nanticoke Area got two quick goals to take a 2-1 halftime lead, as Penko evened the game with a score with 7:21 remaining in the first half and Lillian Galdzin scored again for the Trojanettes just over a minute later.
Undeterred, GAR charged back to tie the game at, 2-2, when Kelis Quiller scored 10:18 into the second half.
“We just stick together,” Beech said. “We’re just a different team this year, for sure.”
That point was driven home again late in regulation play.
Madison Stashak slid Nanticoke Area’s third goal across the cage with 12:07 to play in the second half. But Ford responded by juking a defender and swatting a goal to the far side to send the teams into a 7-on7 overtime tied at 3-3.
For the Trojanettes, those conditions were ideal.
“We seem to be playing best when it’s hot,” Penko said. “We were excited. We’re more spread out (in overtime) and more prepared to be there for the ball.”
For GAR, just to be there at the end of regulation and beyond is quite an accomplishment.
“I think there are a lot of factors involved,” Beech said. “We have a lot of players returning from last year, we have the numbers on our side. Building a program is not an easy thing to do. Part of coming back is, you have a lot of heartbreak with the happiness.”
Wyoming Valley West 7,
Pittston Area 0
Karaline Stelma had a had trick in the first half and Cameron Forgash made three assists as the Spartans rolled their record to 7-0 and kept pace with Wyoming Seminary at the top of the WVC Division 1 standings.
After Valley West took a 5-0 halftime lead, Foto Tsioles closed out the victory with a goal and an assist in the second half for the Spartans.
Jess Zaladonis made seven saves for Pittston Area.
Hanover Area 1
Suzie Grohowski and Diamonique Snyder both scored goals in the first half and the Mohawks held on for their first win in six games this season.
Olyvia Jackson made five saves to preserve the victory for Meyers.
Sara Whitesell scored for Hanover Area 54 seconds before halftime.
Abington Heights 0
Kate Roberts scored four times and Ava Radel had a goal and four assists as the Black Knights cruised to victory.
Roberts had a had trick in the first half, leading Lehman to a 6-0 lead by intermission.
Mayakla Adams and Lynea Gregory each finished with two assists as Lehman broke a two-game losing streak and moved to 6-2 in the WVC Division 1.
Hazleton Area 1
Sam Banks scored in the first half and Hannah Yanovich added a goal in the second, which was just enough for the Mountaineers to pull out victory.
Melinda Ratchford made those goals stand up with eight saves for Dallas.
Gabby Cavenas cut Hazleton Area’s deficit in half when whe scored on a penalty corner with just over 10 minutes remaining.
Nanticoke Area 4, GAR 3 (OT)
First half — 1. GAR, Haley Ford (Erin Leonard), 17:21; 2. NAN, Veronica Penko, 7:41; 3. NAN, Lillian Galdzin (Katie King), 6:09. Second half — 4. GAR, Kelis Quiller (Leonard), 19:45; 5. NAN, Madison Stashak (Mackenzie Casey), 12:07; 6. GAR, Ford, 8:33. Overtime —NAN, Penko, 5:39.
Shots — GAR 17; NAN 17. Saves — GAR 13 (Reilly Holden); NAN 14 (Jill Maute 10, Kaylee Simmons 4). Penalty corners — GAR 8; NAN 13.
Valley West 7, Pittston Area 0
First half — 1. WVW, Karaline Stelma (Cameron Forgash), 26:21; 2. WVW, Stelma (Mercedes Jasterzenski), 22:48; 3. WVW, Rina Isioles (Forgash), 11:11; 4. WVW, Stelma, 7:48; 5. WVW, Jillian Bonczewski (Forgash), 3:06. Second half — 6. WVW, Foto Tsioles, 24:06; 7. WVW, Leah Romanowski (Foto Isioles), 1:56.
Shots — WVW 14; PA 1. Saves — WVW 1 (Nikki Hartzel); PA 7 (Jess Zaladonis). Penalty corners — WVW 10; PA 2.
Meyers 2, Hanover Area 1
First half — 1. MEY, Suzie Grohowski (Sarah Bottger), 23:08; 2. MEY, Diamonique Snyder, 18:49; 3. HAN, Sara Whitesell (Brooke Stevens), 0:54.
Shots — HAN 6; MEY 8. Saves — HAN 6 (Alyssa Wivell); MEY 5 (Olyvia Jackson). Penalty corners — HAN 12; MEY 12.
Lake-Lehman 8, Abington Heights 0
First half — 1. LL, Kate Roberts (Makayla Adams), 28:00; 2. LL, Roberts (Adams), 25:10; 3. LL, Izzy Radel (Lynea Gregory); 4. LL, Roberts (Ava Radel), 20:50; 5. LL, Ava Radel (Gregory), 17:40; 6. LL, Madison Klopp (Ava Radel), 11:50. Second half — 7. LL, Alana Antonello (Ava Radel), 19:10; 8. LL, Roberts (Ava Radel), 8:10.
Shots — AH 8; LL 12. Saves — AH 4 (Ashlynn Fitzgerald); LL 8 (Alicia Galasso). Penalty corners — AH 2; LL 7.
Dallas 2, Hazleton Area 1
First half — 1. DAL, Sam Banks, 16:33. Second half — 2 DAL, Hannah Yanovich, 12:12; 3. HAZ, Gabby Cavenas, 10:21.
Shots — DAL 7; HAZ 9. Saves — DAL 8 (Melinda Ratchford); HAZ 5 (Jenna Corra). Penalty corners — DAL 5; HAZ 9.
Reach Paul Sokoloski at 570-991-6392 or on Twitter @TLPaulSokoloski