Bombers reach CL field hockey final
ALLENTOWN - There aren’t many field hockey teams that can say they’ve defeated Moravian Academy twice in one season.
The Palmerton Blue Bombers added themselves to the list Wednesday with an impressive 5-3 win over the Lions in the Colonial League semifinals at Salisbury High School.
The win sends the Bombers into Saturday’s 10 a.m. final at Catasauqua High School against top-seeded Southern Lehigh.
Palmerton (15-4-1) came out aggressively and shut down any offensive attack that Moravian Academy (15-4-0) looked to make. The aggressiveness paid off midway through the first quarter when Celeste Hoffman scored for a 1-0 Bomber lead.
Even with the early lead, the aggressiveness continued, and with just 1:04 left in the opening period, Sydney Frantz scored the first of her two goals on the night, giving Palmerton a little room to breathe.
“I think that was just the start that we needed to give us a spark,” said Frantz of the team’s quick start. “We got more excited, and had our motivation pretty high after getting the early lead. I definitely have to credit my team, because they’re the ones that make me get those corners and open things up for me.”
While Frantz’ first goal came from close range, for her second of the night, she took advantage of an opportunity that she saw and put a shot into the back of the cage from 20 yards out. Not long after going up 3-0, Palmerton continued to add on when Analise Recker scored to give Palmerton a wide edge going into halftime.
To open the second half, Palmerton continued to keep up the pressure and stretched its lead yet again. This time, it was sophomore Skylar Kohler who put herself into the goal column, and the Bombers were suddenly up 5-0 with 10:58 left in the third period.
As it turned out, Palmerton needed every bit of the insurance its added goals had given them. Rather than simply admit defeat, Moravian Academy dug deep and found some momentum of its own.
Less than two minutes after Kohler gave Palmerton its biggest lead of the night, Nikki Chiaradia converted a corner pass that put the Lions on the board with plenty of time left for a comeback.
The fourth quarter belonged to Moravian Academy, however. Just one minute into the period, Phoebe Shane cut into the lead with a goal from close range. The Palmerton defense regrouped, and while Moravian Academy was able to put pressure on goalkeeper Shannon Dougherty, it couldn’t get anything past her until very late in the quarter. That’s when a shot came toward Dougherty, who was in position to make the save, until Claire Martin deflected the shot and sent it just into the near side of the goal to make it 5-3.
With little time remaining, however, Palmerton was able to keep the Lions away from the cage and take the victory.
“I think that the early goals just built their confidence. It’s one thing for me to tell them to be confident; but it’s another when they earn that confidence in themselves by playing so well,” said Palmerton coach Lauren Salerno. “The first thing I heard from one of my girls after the game was ‘we backed down in the last quarter’ and I looked at her and said, ‘I’m glad you said it.’ I’m very proud of them right now.”
... To win the Colonial League Championship, Palmerton must now knock off the tournament’s top seed in Southern Lehigh (18-0-0). The Spartans downed Palisades 3-0 in the nightcap of the doubleheader at Salisbury on Wednesday. The Bombers dropped both regular season games against Southern Lehigh, falling 4-0 at home early in the season, and then 3-1 on the road two weeks ago.
... The league finals will be played at the newly renovated stadium at Catasauqua High School. The field underwent a complete refurbishment, including the installation of an artificial turf field.