Lady Indians shoot for gold
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Lehighton's Corrine McConnville moves in to take the ball away from a Villa Marie Academy player as she shows some defense in a 3-0 victory at Emmaus on Tuesday night.
EMMAUS - It's down to one.
Lehighton's unbeaten field hockey team scored two early goals and then relied on some outstanding defense to defeat Villa Maria Academy 3-0 on Tuesday night in the PIAA Class 2A semifinal round.
The win, their 25th in a row this season, advanced the Indians into the 2A state championship game on Saturday at Whitehall against Selinsgrove (a 2-1 overtime winner over Donegal in the other semifinal) at noon.
"It's amazing," said senior Corri McConville, who jump started the Indians when she nailed a penalty stroke high in the cage over the right shoulder of Villa Maria goalie Anna Zarkoski just 1:23 into the contest. "Every year, time after time, we come out hard from pre-season, which was three good, long weeks.
"We try just as hard as we can and we did stick together this year, not just as a field hockey team, but as a family and no one is sick of it yet."
The McConville goal helped the Indians get on a bit of an offensive role as Vanessa Rimbey scored off a Tiff Harleman assist with 14:51 still left in the first half for a big 2-0 advantage.
"We worked so hard to get up there for corners," McConville added. "Why not put it in. Any other girl could have stepped up there and took that. It's just a matter of how hard you want it."
The Indians finished with 10 shots on goal in the contest and seven of them came in the first half. The Hurricanes, on the other hand, finished with 15 shots on goal, with 10 coming in the second half as they tested the Lehighton defense and first-year goalie Sarah Snyder.
"It was tough, mainly because I don't have that much experience," said Snyder of her 13 saves. "To have that many saves in a game like this makes me feel incredible. Our defense was just awesome tonight. They had my back 110 percent.
"It's tough because most of the time the ball doesn't come into the "D" and when it does, you have to be on your feet and ready even if you're standing there for 25 minutes. You just have to keep your head in the game."
Snyder and the defense in front of her did just that as the Hurricanes put on a flurry from six minutes in for almost five minutes straight.
With 4:44 left in the game, however, it was a perfect unassisted shot by Abby Frey that put the icing on the cake making it 3-0 and all eyes started to focus toward Saturday.
Sarah (Snyder) doesn't get a lot of credit because she doesn't get a lot of shots to save," said Lehighton head coach Shawn Hindy. "But she's awesome. When we play against her in practice and in games, she's unbelievable. And her athleticism and dedication to being a goalie has helped us along.
"All of our corner defense and our defenders, I think they panicked a little at times, but the bottom line is they didn't let any goals in and that's what counts."
The Hurricanes also finished with a 13-8 edge in penalty corners.
Hindy, in his fourth year at the helm, has to be relieved that the team has finally reached the state championship game. In the past few years, the Tribe has suffered some heartbreaking losses in the playoffs.
Two pieces of the puzzle, the Mountain Valley Conference and District 11 titles are in place. The only goal left is to win the state title.
"We have one game to go. It should be fun," Hindy said.