Indians back in state finals
EMMAUS The Lehighton field hockey team handled its business Wednesday night and is now just sixty minutes away from repeating as the PIAA Class AA state champs.
The Indians (22-3) jumped on Conrad Weiser early and never looked back on their way to defeating the Scouts, 2-0 in the state semifinals. Jordyn Homyak and Lauren Michalik were responsible for the locals' two first-half goals and gave Lehighton all it needed to pick up the victory.
Conrad Weiser, the No. 1 seed from District 3, entered Wednesday's contest having scored seven goals in its last two state playoff games. However, as it usually does, the Lehighton defense shut down its opposition and allowed only two shots for the entire game. It was the Indians 12th shutout of the year and they have yet to allow a goal in state play.
"We watched (Conrad Weiser) play a little bit and we knew some of their patterns," said Lehighton head coach Shawn Hindy. "But we kind of defend everybody the same way. If they don't shoot then they can't really score. If we do a good job of limiting their opportunities then we know we have a good chance to win the game."
Meanwhile, the Lehighton offense wasted little time getting on the board. After an initial shot was saved by Conrad goalie Misty Cox, she fell on top of the ball and the Indians were awarded a penalty stroke a minute and 42 seconds into the game. Homyak, one of the Indians' senior captains, took the stroke and went high and to the left for the score.
"I was kind of joking, but I said beforehand that we had to score in nine seconds because we scored in ten seconds on Saturday," said Hindy. "It was good. We know teams like to come out strong and if we can come out just as strong and get a goal then we know that is going to help.
"At the same time we always know that it is a sixty minute game. We had to keep playing. We know that one goal isn't going to win it in most cases. We got that one early and just kept fighting from there."
Michalik added the second goal two minutes and 14 seconds before halftime off of a penalty corner. Teammate Echo Bretz handled the corner pass and quickly dished the ball to her left to Michalik. Michalik fired a shot that deflected off of the goalie's stick and into the back of the net.
The goal capped a first half in which the Indians completely dominated. Although each team had the same amount of corners (six), Lehighton had six shots to Conrad's one.
Still, the Scouts did not go quietly. They came out in the second half and took it to the Indians for the first 15 minutes. In fact, Lehighton did not record its first corner until midway through the half. Its first shot didn't come until 7:55 remained in the game.
"The first ten minutes of the second half I think we got a little passive," admitted Hindy. "We thought that we were up 2-0 and that we could just go out there and play, but Conrad Weiser is in the state semifinals and they are going to keep fighting until the end.
"Finally, we regained our composure and got the ball back and earned a bunch of corners at the end. I thought we could have gotten one of those in. We were close, but their goalie made a couple of good saves."
Despite all the pressure, Conrad Weiser recorded just one shot on goal in the second half.
Lehighton will defend its state title on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Whitehall against Wyoming Seminary, which defeated Crestwood 2-1 in the other semifinal.
While Hindy has believed all along that his team could repeat as state champs, he wasn't always sure if his girls believed in themselves.Now it looks as if they do.
"It's pretty awesome," said Hindy. "I believed it all along. The biggest thing was trying to convince the girls that they could do it. We had a talk about four or five weeks ago and I told the seniors that we could win states again.
"I keep repeating the message and telling them because I know we can do it. Now, I think they definitely know that they can do it and I think it showed in our play as well."