Bears stun Stroudsburg
STROUDSBURG For nearly 58 minutes, Stroudsburg's field hockey team was in complete control of its District 11 Class AAA quarterfinal game against Pleasant Valley.
The No. 2 Mounties did everything right, maintaining possession with 28 corners and 12 shots and never allowing the seventh-seeded Bears to get into any kind of rhythm offensively.
But with just over two minutes left in a seemingly lopsided game, the score was still deadlocked 0-0.
Until the Bears got their first, and only, corner with 2:34 remaining in the contest.
Annie Butchkoski crossed the ball in front of the net, where it bounced around for nearly 30 seconds, until it came to the stick of Mountain Valley Conference MVP Melissa Russo. Russo put it past Stroudsburg's Taylor Ross with 2:01 remaining to give the Bears a 1-0 victory.
"I was not expecting to get the ball whatsoever," said Russo. "It was an '8' and we just started using that corner (play) today.
"We had great passes all the way through (that corner) and I was able to get the final tip."
Despite all of their chances, the previously undefeated Mounties were never able to capitalize on a number of scoring opportunities in front of the net, as Bears' goalkeeper Rachel Wild made six saves while facing constant pressure from Stroudsburg's relentless attack.
"My goalie and my defense did a phenomenal job today," said Pleasant Valley coach Jess Frantz. "Everybody on the field did a phenomenal job, starting with our forward line to our backs.
"On those corners, our backs and our goalie did an exceptional job of holding their positions. We worked a lot on it during practice and I'm glad I took the extra time out to spend on that."
That extra work certainly paid off for Wild, who remained calm despite the flurry of activity around her.
"We were just really hyper about it," Wild said of dealing with Stroudsburg's offense. "We really worked on it at practice and got everything together. We were really just playing like a team today."
The win also marks the second time in less than a week that Pleasant Valley has earned a comeback victory after defeating Bangor 1-0 in overtime in its opening round game.
In that contest, Pleasant Valley dominated offensively, racking up 18 corners and nine shots on goal. And much like their victory over the Slaters, the Bears proved all it takes is one shot to make the difference.
"Stroudsburg is such a great team in general and a very hard team to beat," Frantz said. "Just to get the win over them, especially the fourth time we've faced them (this year) feels great, especially when it really counts."
The Bears (15-7) will move on to face No. 3 Northampton in the semifinals at 5 p.m. at Whitehall on Wednesday, and will be looking to carry the momentum of Saturday's upset to a berth in the district finals.
"We're keeping our heads up high," Russo said. "We're not going to go into anything cocky, but we'll be confident and just try to play our game like we did today."