WHITEHALL In 2006, Pleasant Valley met Emmaus in the District 11 field hockey finals, with senior Jess Frantz suiting up for the Bears. The Hornets were looking for their 18th straight district title and beat Pleasant Valley to get the gold medals. Fast forward seven years and the two teams met again, this time with Frantz as the Bears coach and Emmaus looking for their 25th straight district title. Again, the Hornets were successful, coming out on top with a 5-1 win.
Frantz knew her team was facing a tough challenge coming into the game, but she also conveyed to her players that they could pull off the upset.
"She told us that she believes in us and that we had the talent to take home the title that she couldn't," said junior Annie Butchkoski. "We were still a little nervous, but we came in prepared and looking to get the win."
The intimidation factor was multiplied when Emmaus came out and got goals on their first two shots, both of which came off penalty corners and put the Bears down 2-0 in the first two minutes of the game. Before Pleasant Valley could recollect themselves, Krissy Mikelson connected on a penalty stroke and the Bears were down 3-0 a third of the way through the first half.
"Those quick goals really hurt us. I think they rattled us and made us more timid and that's a tough way to play," said Frantz.
To their credit, Pleasant Valley didn't give up and were able to keep Emmaus from doing any further first half damage. In the second half, the Bears timidness had disappeared and they were able to get more of an attack going.
"Our plan was to try to pass around their defense and we weren't able to do that early in the game, but in the second half, we were crisper with our passing and were more aggressive and it made a difference," explained Frantz.
With Emmaus holding a 5-0 lead, Pleasant Valley continued to push for goals even with time starting to run out. Down to their final 55-seconds, Alex DiMarco fired a shot that Melissa Russo deflected with her stick putting the ball over the right shoulder of goalie Mekheila MacDonald to make it a 5-1 lead.
"I thought that goal was big in that it just gave us a little enthusiasm. As far as the game, it didn't make a big difference, but I think mentally, it may help us a little down the road," said Frantz.
Down the road for Pleasant Valley is the PIAA Tournament. The Bears will face District 2 champion Coughlin Tuesday night at Wyoming Seminary in the first round. Emmaus will play Downingtown West Tuesday night back at Whitehall. The state tournament has Pleasant Valley and Emmaus in different ends of the bracket, so both would have to reach the finals for a meeting in the PIAA Tournament. If they don't meet there, it's possible that the two teams will be seeing each other in the regular season next year when the Mountain Valley Conference and Lehigh Valley Conference merge into an 18 team super conference.
"It was an honor just to play in this game. It's an honor just to play against Emmaus," said Butchkoski. "Now, we'll get ready for states and I think we have a good chance of doing well there. We're a good team and you never know what can happen."