Big second half pushes Indians into semi
WHITEHALL - It was a scenario in which Lehighton was quite familiar.
Against Crestwood in their PIAA Class 2A quarterfinal game at Whitehall High School Saturday afternoon, Lehighton was outshot, outplayed and out-hustled in the opening half.
It was then Lehighton knew the game was now in their favor. And they didn't disappoint.
Senior Abby Frey scored on a penalty corner with 12:52 left in the game that lifted Lehighton to a 1-0 victory and sent them into the semifinal round against Villa Marie Academy (2-1)at Emmaus High School tonight at 6.
McConville took a pass from Vanessa Rimbey, who was at the top of the circle and began her charge and eventually fed Frey who fired the ball past goalie Kylie Licata. It was third meeting between the two clubs with Lehighton winning (2-1) in 2006 and Crestwood (2-0) in 2007.
The victory also pushed Lehighton's record to 24-0 overall and gave them their second overall berth in the state field hockey version of the final four.
"This is great because it's the furthest any team has gone before," said Frey, who is a senior and the team's captain. "It's been great leading this team and we still have some work to do. We had a slow start, but we always have a better second half."
Crestwood (20-3), owner of four state titles in recent years, had plenty of chances in the opening half, as it seemed to swarm around Lehighton goalie Sarah Snyder, who turned away five shots on the afternoon.
Lehighton became the aggressive team in the second half as it finished the contest outshooting Crestwood, 11-6, while Crestwood had the edge in corners, 10-5.
"In the first half, they (Crestwood) seemed to have more chances than us," said Lehighton head coach Shawn Hindy. "But we became the aggressor in the second half. We always work on our conditioning, and we knew it would pay off for us.
"We knew we just had to keep plugging, and these girls truly believe in themselves."
Hindy also pointed to his schedule which included recognized powers Selinsgrove, Donegal and Sacred Heart Academy, contests which he believed have raised his team's awareness and competitiveness.
His players agree.
"At this point of the season, we expect to see the best around," said McConville. "Throughout the season, we have been tested. They (Crestwood) were pressing us early, but we stayed focused as a team. We knew we could overcome it"
Junior Echo Bretz, who has 12 goals this season and scored the game-winner in a 1-0 victory over Lancaster Mennonite last week in the opening round of the playoffs, had little doubt of the outcome.
"We came fired up, and so did they," said Bretz. "But we always know the second half is ours. For whatever reason, it's been working out that way. This is been a great experience for all of us.
"We're as close as a family."
Junior Courtney Berger also has experienced the tight bond among her teammates and the desire to win.
"We truly work as a team out there," Berger said. "We didn't want this game to go into overtime. It's been a special run."
Hindy doesn't expect any surprises from Villa Marie Academy, a 2-1 winner over Oley Valley Saturday.
"We watched them play before us," Hindy said. "We know they will be a tough opponent. But we just have to play our game. Right now, we have two games and we'll take one at time."
Hopefully, it will be one game at a time and another two big second halves