Honesdale's varsity field hockey team defeated Valley West in OT
KINGSTON — Honesdale's varsity field hockey team recorded the biggest win in program history Wednesday night in Kingston.
The Lady Hornets squared off with Wyoming Valley West in the District Two tournament semifinals and battled their way to an electrifying overtime victory.
Mary Martin paced the offensive attack and Nicole Cush anchored the defense in leading the Red & Black to a 2-1 triumph. With this win, Honesdale advances to the Class AAA championship game for the very first time.
"This is where we've always dreamed of being all these years," Coach Becca Maciejewski told TWI Sports. "It's unbelievable to think we've finally gotten here. So many coaches and players have worked so hard to get us to this point. It's amazing."
Weather permitting, the Lady Hornets will now face Wilkes Barre Coughlin in the 2012 title tilt. The Crusaders are the bracket's #1 seed and punched their ticket to the finals with a 3-0 shutout of Delaware Valley.
"I'm so proud of our girls," Coach Maciejewski said. "We knew exactly how this game was going to play out. The we had a gameplan and the girls executed it perfectly. I think it's fair to say that this is the biggest win in the history of Honesdale field hockey."
Tentatively speaking, the game is scheduled for Tuesday, October 30th at either Valley West or Crestwood.
By the Book
The strategy for Wednesday night's game was simple.
Honesdale would bring relentless pressure to bear on the Valley West net right off the opening whistle. The ultimate goal was to create an early lead and thereby take the Spartans out of their comfort zone.
Martin followed that gameplan to the letter. Mickey Johannes ignited the assault off a corner, passing the ball to Sam Krempasky who dished to a wide open Martin in front of the cage.
A battle-tested senior forward, Mary hammered the ball home with just over seven minutes gone in the match, giving the Lady Hornets that quick 1-0 lead they so desired.
"That was make or break for us," Coach Maciejewski said. "It was incredibly important for us to score in the first 10 minutes. That goal was as close to perfect execution as you can get."
Valley West quickly called timeout and set about re-grouping. Coach Linda Fithian exhorted her girls to crank up the offensive pressure and that's exactly what they did.
The Spartans would dominated the statistics on this night, piling up a staggering number of shots and corners ... all of which Honesdale's rock-solid defense countered. By the time the final gun sounded, Valley West would enjoy a 20-3 advantage in shots and a 9-2 margin in corners.
Cush stood tall through it all.
A senior keeper who's only been playing the position for a little more than two years, Nicole turned away every Spartan attack. She made all the routine saves and several spectacular ones, too, earning high marks from her mentor.
"I don't even know where to begin," Coach Maciejewski said. "That was the best game Nicole has ever played. She was mentally tough and totally prepared. Nicole was the anchor of our defense."
Kate Pfeil, Sarah Redick, Bailey Martin, Stacey Hart and Valerie Gaglione also earned high praise from their mentor as playing key roles in Honesdale's specially-designed "Christmas Tree" set.
The only crack in this seemingly impenetrable defensive front came midway through the second half. Valley West's Maura Anistranski took a pass from Lily Shemo and finally got one past Cush, tying the score at 1-1 with 18:45 remaining in regulation.
One of the most interesting rules of high school field hockey concerns overtime.
The game is played with 11 on a side ... until time expires, that is. Then, the rosters are reduced to seven and things can get dicey in a hurry. Fewer players on a wide-open field means more scoring chances and Honesdale seems to excel in those situations.
Coming into Wednesday night's match, the Lady Hornets hadn't lost an overtime game all season. And, according to Coach Maciejewski, they weren't about to start in the district semis.
"We knew is we could get to 7v7, we had a real shot at winning," she said. "Our girls are so explosive and athletic, we knew Valley West would have a hard time containing us."
The Spartans actually created the first few opportunities, but once again Cush was equal to the task. Then, in the 8th minute Martin catapulted the Lady Hornets into the championship game.
Mary flicked the ball past a sprawling Jocelyn Polney and into the net. Johannes was credited with the assist for a wild 2-1 victory.
"We're one win away from realizing our ultimate goal," Coach Maciejewski said. "We'll enjoy this for a day or two, but then all of our focus will be on winning our first-ever district championship."
Score by Periods...
HON (13-6-0) 1 0 1 — 2
VW (10-7-0) 0 1 0 — 1