EAST STROUDSBURG – Although the Pleasant Valley field hockey team had the tough task of taking on a two-loss Stroudsburg team in the Mountain Valley Conference championship on Thursday, the Bears knew that the Mounties could be beaten.
Pleasant Valley knew that because it had just beaten Stroudsburg 3-2 last week.
However, the Bears couldn't make it two in a row over the top-seeded Mounties, as Stroudsburg held on for the 2-1 victory and made it back-to-back championships for the program.
"Each game is a new game for us and we have ups-and-downs," said Pleasant Valley head coach Angie Frantz. "Obviously tonight wasn't our best game and it wasn't our best performance – which we have been showing lately.
"A lot of these girls have never seen or played in a MVC final before, so I think their nerves got the best of them and Stroudsburg came out confident. They have been in this situation before."
Pleasant Valley (11-8-1) quickly found itself fighting an up-hill battle as Stroudsburg (18-2) scored just over five minutes into the game. Brittany Thornton took a shot from the point and rifled it past Bears' goalie Rachel Wild for the game's opening goal.
The rest of the half was pretty even between the two teams. Pleasant Valley finished with three shots and three corners, while Stroudsburg recorded two shots and five corners.
The Mounties struck quick yet again in the second half when Rebecca Adelmann one-timed a pass from teammate Kat Liedberg into the net. Liedberg carried the ball down the field to the left of the Pleasant Valley goal and had her initial shot blocked by a defender. Liedberg managed to regain possession and shoveled a pass to the other side of the net. The pass went through the legs of Wild and landed on Adelmann's stick, who pushed it across for the goal.
A few minutes later Frantz called a timeout in an attempt to get her team refocused. The move worked immediately, as Rikki Correll got the ball and shot it past Stroudsburg goalie Taylor Ross for a goal. It was just the ninth goal the Mounties have surrendered all season, but it was a big one for the Bears.
"All season we have called ourselves the 'Comeback Kids,'" said Frantz. "We have been down two goals and have been able to come back and beat Lehighton and Stroudsburg. So basically I was just trying to put that in their heads.
"I told them we have come back many times. We can do it. We have scored in 30 seconds. We have scored two goals in two minutes. I wanted them to be confident in their ability to come back."
Play was then even once again until the end of the game. Pleasant Valley was awarded a penalty corner as time expired, but couldn't get a shot on goal as the ball trickled across the end line to end the game.
Despite the loss, and the fact that it still has the district playoffs ahead, Pleasant Valley has come a long way this season. The Bears only managed six wins in their first season under Frantz, but improved to win nine conference games this year and came within one win of capturing their first MVC title since 2002.
"The girls have adjusting to the new coaching and my new style," Frantz said. "This year we had strong senior leaders that really helped the transition. The girls were much more of a team, whereas last year they were a little more secluded.
"The off-season work has helped too. We did stuff all year around and just pushed. We built that mentality that no matter what we are going to give it our all. I think that has shown in the way we have played recently."