BY JEFF FALK
MILLERSVILLE – The Palmyra field hockey team’s consistency is like an onion. The more layers you peel away, the more intense and focused its performances become.
And those performances never stink.
On a partly sunny Saturday at Penn Manor High School’s Comet Field, another strong postseason performance propelled Palmyra to a 5-0 triumph over Twin Valley, in the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class AA postseason. While they controlled the flow of play throughout, the Cougars connected for four goals in the second half to expand on a 1-0 halftime advantage.
Senior captain Olivia Kirkpatrick netted two goals and assist for the Cougars, who also got tallies from three different sources.
The victory was reigning District Three champion Palmyra’s sixth straight in the postseason and ninth overall, and catapulted it to 19-2-2 overall into Tuesday’s state Class AA semifinal opposite District One runner-up Gwynedd-Mercy, which beat Northern 3-0, at a site and time to be announced. With the defeat, Twin Valley, the fourth-place finisher out of District Three, concluded its campaign at 14-10.
“I think we are pretty consistent,” said Palmyra head coach Kent Harshman. “We had trouble finishing on Tuesday (in a 3-1 win over Merion Mercy Academy). But I thought we played well today. I think we’re where we need to be with our consistency. We just hope it continues for another week.
“I think we’re a mature team that is buying into what the coaches are sharing with them,” continued Harshman. “When you’re blessed with the skills that we are, buying in and playing together, it goes a long way in creating consistency.”
While certainly sustained, all that the Cougar attack could muster during the initial 30 minutes of action was Kirkpatrick’s tally on penalty stroke with 6:30 left in the first quarter. After originating from a penalty corner, Kirkpatrick made no mistakes on the stroke, rifling hard wrister into the left side of the cage.
But following the intermission, Palmyra wasted no time padding its cushion. Goals from Avery Russell and Katie Lintz 1:46 apart early in the third quarter made it 3-0 Cougars.
From a scramble in front of the Twin Valley goal, Russell emerged with a rebound. Lintz used a quick, short shot to convert a quick short pass from Russell working the right baseline.
“I think we were confident,” said Harshman. “Our kids are well-grounded. I don’t think we were cocky. We thought if we played our game, we’d let the chips fall where they may.
“At halftime, I told them ‘keep working’,” added Harshman. “We talked a little bit about tightening up our defensive alignment. We focused on a couple of things that might help us finish better in the circle. They were little things. Little adjustments.”
The Cougars also netted a pair of goals in the fourth period.
Off a corner she inserted, 2:13 into the quarter, Kirkpatrick made it 4-0 on a rebound. Then with 1:05 remaining Alicia Battistelli found the back of the cage, after accepting a pass from Kirkpatrick.
“I still think against most teams that our fitness level shines through in the third and fourth quarters,” said Harshman. “They (the Raiders) have a really good goalie (Maddie Stevens), and she stands on her head. I thought we started to get some things in the second half. Our kids kept at it.
“We thought it would be a defensive game,” Harshman continued. “We played well, better in the second half. I thought Twin Valley was a little tired in the second half, and we were fresh. They (his players) have their goals set. They’re moving on.”
By the time Twin Valley posted its initial shot on goal early in the second half, the Cougars were sitting on a 3-0 cushion. Palmyra out shot the Raiders 22-2 and enjoyed a 14-2 advantage in penalty corners.
“It was miserably cold and miserably windy,” said Harshman, of last year’s November meeting with Gwynedd-Mercy in the state playoffs. “I don’t have anything good to remember about that game. But, oh yeah, the girls remember.
“At this point of the season, there shouldn’t be any problem with preparation, given what’s at stake,” Harshman added. “Remembering will definitely be a plus. They’re the team that ended our season.”
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2022 Palmyra Field Hockey Results
Palmyra Field Hockey – Championship History Since 1998
Capital Division Champions of the Mid-Penn Conference: 2001 – 2009
Keystone Division CO-Champions of the Mid-Penn Conference: 2013, 2014
Mid-Penn Conference Champions: 2009
District III AA Champions: 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2011, 2013, 2019, 2020, 2022
District III AAA Champions: 2015, 2016
1984 – ???
1991 – Ann Gruber
2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 – Wendy Reichenbach
2011, 2013, 2015, 2016 – Kristi Harshman-Costello
2019 – Kent Harshman
Pa State AA Champions: 2005, 2019, 2020
Pa State AAA Co-Champions: 2014
Pa State AA Runner-Up: 2007
Pa State AA Runner-Up: 2018
Pa State AAA Runner-Up: 2015
PA State AAA Runner-Up: 2016
2022 Palmyra Individual Statistics
Name Goals Assists Points Penalty Corners Created
Alicia Battistelli 20 9 49 57
Katie Lintz 16 9 41 24
Keely Bowers 10 13 33 42
Hadley Hoffsmith 12 3 27 29
Olivia Kirkpatrick 9 8 26 12
Avery Russell 8 7 23 72
Jovie Weaver 7 2 16 18
Mallory Hudson 5 4 14 9
Addie Sholly 3 6 12 11
Morgan Lantz 4 1 9 2
Alaina Bryan 2 1 5 3
Bri Eckenroth 2 1 5 3
Liv Gain 1 1 12
Alyssa Dugan 0 2
Maddie Blauch 0 1
Piper Taylor 3
Peyton Bean 3
Addie Sholly 1