The way Wyoming Seminary sees it, there’s strength in numbers.
For Wyoming Valley West, too.
And both District 2 champions and Wyoming Valley Conference powers will need all the firepower they can gather against two stingy opponents in the PIAA field hockey quarterfinals.
Valley West, 18-2 overall and ranked No. 18 nationally and No. 11 in the Pennsylvania/New Jersey Region by Maxfieldhockey, will face a 20-1 Selinsgrove team that won 20 straight games, is No. 15 nationally and No. 9 in the PA/NJ Region and coming off its 12th shutout of the season during a noon Class 2A state showdown at Central Columbia High School in a rematch of the 2017 season opener.
Just before that, 19-2 Sem, No. 16 nationally and No. 10 in the PA/NJ Region, will square off against a New Hope-Solebury team that is 20-1 and has surrendered just three goals all season, in an 11 a.m. Class A battle at Whitehall High School.
So opportunities for points may be at a premium.
But Sem plans on peppering the cage with plenty of shots.
“There isn’t any girl, or two or three girls, teams can concentrate on,” said Aubrey Mytych, who had a hat trick in Sem’s dominating 10-1 victory over Tulpehocken in Tuesday’s frigid and snowy state opener at Crestwood High School.
Her Sem teammates Alicia Carr, Julia Christian, Kelsey Reznick, Alex Wesneski and Hannah Maxwell all had hat tricks during the season, and all of them have double-digit assists through the year.
“If I’m not going to score,” Mytych said, “Alex, Kelsey, Alicia, Hannah, Julia all shoot great.”
The Wyoming Valley Conference champion Blue Knights, who went 17-0 through league and district 2 play, have roared through the postseason by out-scoring four opponents by a combined 37-3 — with those three goals against coming in the waning moments of three games.
That should present a mighty test for a New Hope-Solebury team that pitched 19 shutouts this season, sparked by defensive midfielder Claudia Koeppen. New Hope-Solebury, the Bicentennial Athletic League champion and District 1 No. 2 team led by career 100-goal scorer Sara Wilson, didn’t allow a goal until beating Jenkintown 4-1 in its regular-season final. It suffered a 2-1 loss to Gwynedd Mercy in the District 1 title game, the only time New Hope-Solebury has allowed more than one goal in a game this season.
“We just have to take one game at a time,” Wyoming Seminary coach Karen Klassner said.
How about one goal at a time?
Wyoming Valley West freshman Cameron Forgash scored early and the Spartans made it stand up in a 1-0 victory over Selinsgrove in the first game of the season for both teams.
Since then, Selinsgrove mowed down 20 straight opponents, rewarding coach Cathy Keiser with her 600th career victory while winning a ninth Heartland Athletic Conference title and 13th straight District 4 championship. The Seals did it on the backs of all-state junior back Elise Keeney and behind a team-leading 19 goals from senior Emily Swineford, who both played well in Tuesday’s state-opening 4-0 victory over East Pennsboro — Selinsgrove’s 12th shutout of the season.
Selinsgrove will have to contain a hail of bullets off the sticks of the Spartans, who spent most of the second half around the Upper Perkiomen circle during Tuesday’s 2-1 state-opening victory.
Seniors Foto Tsioles and Mercedes Jasterzenski along with freshman Karaline Stelma all have at least 15 goals, while Rina Tsioles (Foto’s sophomore sister) and Penn-bound defender Madison Woods have a knack for some sudden scoring.
And that doesn’t even include Forgash, who leads the team with 59 points and 22 goals, including an assist and a goal in Tuesday’s PIAA playoff opener.
“She’ll shoot when she can,” Valley West coach Linda Fithian said. “She takes advantage of the opportunity.”
It’s all a matter of being alert and finding chances, especially against defenses that don’t allow many.
“Probably just looking up,” Forgash said, “knowing where my teammates are and just staying on the post.”