NORTHAMPTON – Pleasant Valley didn't play like a team with a losing record, it didn't look like a team that was decisively beaten by Northampton earlier this season, and it didn't act like a prohibitive underdog.
Despite all those positives, the Bears didn't win either. But they sure made it interesting.
Northampton's Jackie O'Connell denied the Pleasant Valley's upset bid when she scored off a corner with just under 11 minutes remaining to give her team a 1-0 victory in the opening round of the District 11 Class AAA field hockey playoffs.
"I thought we played very well," said Pleasant Valley coach Bob Young. "Our record this year was a little deceiving. We let some wins get away from us, but we were in just about every game.
"I thought we were better than an 11th seed and I'm guessing Northampton probably thinks so too."
One of the few games the Bears weren't very competitive in this year was an early season meeting against Northampton that they lost, 4-0.
"We played with a lot more fire today than we did when we were here earlier in the season," said Young. "Obviously this isn't the best surface around, especially when you're used to turf like we are, and I think that hurt us a lot more the first time we played here.
"This time, we did a better job adapting. I felt like we created some opportunities in the first half, but just couldn't put the ball in the net. Give Northampton credit, they played very well in the second half and finally found a way to push across a goal."
With thoughts of overtime and possibly even penalty strokes starting to come into play, Northampton put together one of its best spurts of the game to finally break through.
On the third of three consecutive penalty corners, the Kids' Emily Nonnemacher got the ball to O'Connell, who carried the ball from left to right across the goalmouth before firing in the game-winner with 10:44 remaining.
"Even though we beat them early in the season, we definitely weren't overconfident and we weren't taking them lightly," said Kid coach Kelly Backenstoe. "I thought we had an edge in play, especially in the second half, but when you don't capitalize on your chances you can get yourself in trouble.
"The longer an underdog hangs around the more dangerous they become. They start gaining more and more confidence. That's what happened today."
The victory improves sixth-seeded Northampton's record to 14-5-1 on the season. The Kids will meet Parkland on Thursday in the quarterfinal round.
The Bears, who qualified for postseason play thanks to a 7-5 Mountain Valley Conference record, finish the season with an 8-12 overall mark.
"Our final record is a little disappointing," said Young. "I thought that we would have been better than that.
"But everything considered, I thought this was one of our better games this season. I'm not unhappy with how we played, just a little disappointed with the final result."
Northampton finished with a 15-5 advantage in shots and a 13-6 edge in corners. Bear goalie Hannah Bard made 10 saves.