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Palmyra Playoff Field Hockey: An Inside Look (Complete Chapters 1 – 9)

Written by the Palmyra Field Hockey Team

Edited by Dan Rau




Prior to the beginning of Palmyra’s post-season run, a reader came to LebCoSports with the idea of the players journaling their playoff experience.  This was an interesting concept, because while the general public knows that this is an elite field hockey program that always strives to be the best, only a few understand what life is like when you are going into the playoffs with the hopes of running the table.

After bouncing the idea off of Coach Kent “Big Dog” Harshman and Palmyra Athletic Director Brian Weidler, the decision was made to pull back the curtain and let the players tell their story.  Senior captains Alicia Battistelli, Olivia Kirkpatrick, and Haleigh Lambert led the effort in representing the team’s thoughts throughout this journey that eventually earned them the title as District 3 Champions (and almost PIAA State Champions).

Over the course of the next several days, we will present you a raw look into what life was like on a daily basis over the course of an entire month.  This is the Palmyra Lady Cougar Field Hockey Team’s experience, in their words.



Chapter 1: Preparing for Districts

Monday, October 17th

Event: Practice 

Activities: Senior Game (Underclassmen write down an anonymous fact about themselves and seniors take turns guessing who each fact is about) and a kickball game (Juniors and Seniors versus Sophomores and Freshman); Post season roster was named.

Thoughts/Feelings: High energy, lots of laughs, really fun 


Tuesday, October 18th

Event: Practice 

Activities: Went over postseason expectations, sports psychology session with Coach Costello, intense practice.

Thoughts/Feelings: We were trying to encourage intensity and focus; first taste of cold postseason play. 


Wednesday, October 19th

Event: Practice 

Activities: Another good practice, incorporated some more running into drills and tried to encourage even more intensity.

Thoughts/Feelings: Good practice, another cold one.


Thursday, October 20th

Event: Practice 

Activities: Lots of scrimmaging against the coaches.

Thoughts/Feelings: Good, tough practice.


Friday, October 21st

Event: Practice 

Activities: More scrimmaging. 

Thoughts/Feelings: A little less focused (maybe due to football game and weekend plans?), still a good practice.


Saturday, October 22nd

Event: Off day 


Sunday, October 23rd

Event: Team bonding at Risser’s

Activities: Did a hayride and campfire with most players, Big Dog and Mrs. Harshman, Coach Costello and her kids (Cam, Thomas, and Paul), Roasted marshmallows and hotdogs, drank apple cider and took lots of fun pictures. 

Thoughts/Feelings: Really fun time, great weather, everyone ate a bunch of campfire food and we laughed a lot.


Monday, October 24th

Event: Practice and Film Session

Activities: Watched film of first round of District’s opponent and some college game film, scrimmaged a lot and did 7-asides 

Thoughts/Feelings: High energy practice, but bodies were tired. 


Tuesday, October 25th

Event: Practice 

Activities: Played 3-goal game, possession boxes, practiced a lot of offensive and defensive corners, ended with one v one drills. Captains brought their District medals to show players what we are working for and talked to players about what a privilege it is to be in postseason and how we have to play every game like its our last. 

Thoughts/Feelings: Good practice, less intense because of being the day before a game; a lot of nerves going into the game, but very excited and ready to fight for our spot in the next round.


Wednesday, October 26th


Activities: Wore team outfits to school; Played Spring Grove; Won 4-0 

Thoughts/Feelings: Good, high energy game; lots of fun to play in; team win; everyone got a chance to play.



Recap of Game against Spring Grove 

In the opening round of the District 3 Tournament, #1 seeded Palmyra faced the #16 seed Spring Grove Rockets.  Palmyra jumped out early, scoring twice in the first three minutes of the game.  By the end of the first quarter, the Lady Cougars led 3-0.  Adding another goal before halftime, the tough Palmyra defense took over and the score would remain 4-0 the rest of the contest.  In fact, Palmyra’s defense was so tough that they did not allow a shot the entirety of the match.

In this 4-0 win, Palmyra’s scoring was as follows:

1st quarter: 1-0 Alicia Battistelli (unassisted); 2-0 Hadley Hoffsmith  (unassisted); 3-0 Alicia Battistelli (Keely Bowers assisted)

2nd quarter: Hadley Hoffsmith (Mallory Hudson assisted)



Chapter 2: Round 2, Fight On


Thursday, October 27th

Event: Film and Practice 

Activities: Watched film of Ephrata, along with some college film 

Thoughts/Feelings: Tough practice; Frustrated with play and our breakout drill; individual frustrations but stayed positive as a team and encouraged each other, building character; ended practice with leaving the huddle smiling and laughing with teammates as we walked out of practice.


Friday, October 28th 

Event: Practice and sports psychology session with Coach Costello 

Activities: Played 3 goal game, practiced corners and one v ones, talked about an acronym of LEAD and how we can better ourselves.

Thoughts/Feelings: Good practice; attitudes were good; everybody was ready and excited for the next game.


Saturday, October 29th

Event: Team breakfast and GAME DAY. 2nd ROUND OF DISTRICTS

Activities: Breakfast at 7:30, game at 11am; played Ephrata and won 7-0

Thoughts/Feelings: Breakfast was fun; game was good with high intensity; came out strong even though it was a morning game; good crowd of fans; lots of younger players got to play again; a few players were sick, trying to keep everyone healthy.



Recap of District Quarterfinals against Ephrata

In the this round, Palmyra welcomed #8 Ephrata to their turf.  Once the game began, it was anything but welcoming for the visiting Mounts.  The Cougars bombarded the Ephrata goalkeeper Hannah Popolis in the process of scoring seven goals.  The scoring started close to the midway point of the first quarter and by the time the quarter ended, Palmyra was up 3-0.  They would tack on another goal in the second, two in the third, and one final goal early in the fourth quarter.  Again, the defense made life difficult for the opposition, allowing only 1 shot, which was turned away by goalie Haleigh Lambert.

With this win, Palmyra clinched a spot in the PIAA State Tournament.

The scoring for the Lady Cougars was as follows:

1st quarter: 1-0 Alicia Battistelli (Hadley Hoffsmith assisted); 2-0 Keely Bowers (unassisted); 3-0 Morgan Lantz (unassisted)

2nd quarter: 4-0 Mallory Hudson (Alicia Battistelli assisted)

3rd quarter: 5-0 Keely Bowers (Alicia Battistelli assisted); 6-0 Morgan Lantz (Liv Kirkpatrick assisted)

4th quarter: 7-0 Keely Bowers (Bri Eckenroth assisted)

For more on this game, check out our coverage


Chapter 3: This is 2022!


Sunday, October 30th

Event: Off day 


Monday, October 31st

Event: Film and Practice 

Activities: We did the breakout drill that we did last Thursday and struggled with; Drill improved; scrimmaged, 7-aside, and brief corners; one v ones 

Thoughts/Feelings: Pretty good practice, some frustrations but worked through the tough stuff, talked about not shooting from low percentage zones and how to effectively move the ball in the circle 


Tuesday, November 1st 

Event: Practice and Pasta Dinner 

Activities: Sports psychology session with Coach Costello where we talked about our amygdalas; shooting/circle play in zone 1 drill, corners, breakout drill

Thoughts/Feelings: Good practice, again some frustrations but just working through tough drills and preparing for opponent, pasta dinner was fun


Wednesday, November 2nd 


Activities: Dressed up for school; Played Mechanicsburg; Won 2-1

Thoughts/Feelings: Amazing excitement; big crowd for the game; under the lights, loud cheering, lots of reporters, great weather; Tough game, battled the entire 60 mins; played well together, fought through the whole game, came out with intensity; celebrations were awesome.



Recap of District Semifinals against Mechanicsburg

Having given up a total of one shot and outscoring their opponents 11-0 in the first two games, Palmyra knew it was going to be a huge game as they put on their uniforms ahead of their matchup with #4 Mechanicsburg.  In their regular season series, Palmyra had won the first game 1-0.  The two then tied 1-1 in their second meeting.  Possibly more importantly in the minds of several members of the Cougar community was the 2021 loss to Mechanicsburg.  This matchup remained scoreless at the half.  Shortly after the half, Palmyra was able to break through, scoring twice in just over two minutes courtesy of Alicia Battistelli and Avery Russell.  Mechanicsburg found the back of the cage to make things interesting in the fourth quarter, but Haleigh Lambert was able to turn around all other scoring attempts by the Wildcats.  With this 2-1 victory, Palmyra can forget about last year and if anything, start making comparisons to the 2020 campaign.

Scoring for Palmyra was:

3rd quarter: 1-0 Alicia Battistelli (Keely Bowers assisted); 2-0 Avery Russell (unassisted)

For more on this game, check out our coverage.


Chapter 4: Work Hard, Celebrate Hard


Thursday, November 3rd

Event: Film and Practice 

Activities: We regrouped as a team and had a team meeting to all get back on the same page and focus on our goals; didn’t get to practice as much because we spent a lot of time talking and watching film, but this was beneficial.

Thoughts/Feelings: Felt good after the practice. 


Friday, November 4th

Event: Practice 

Activities: Practiced a lot of corners, did communication drills like three goal game; one v ones; Sports psychology visualization session with Coach Costello

Thoughts/Feelings: Struggled a little bit with defensive corners, but were able to work through it (showed in the game on Saturday because we were strong in our defensive corners). 


Saturday, November 5th 


Activities: Team breakfast in the morning, Beat Hershey 2-0, escorted by firetrucks back to school, send off and celebration before and after the game in the high school parking lot, lots of celebrations afterwards, a lot of girls had a post game meal at “StuffD Steaks” provided by the owners. 

Thoughts/Feelings: Great day, our team played really well, was a huge win for us and was something we worked very hard for!



Recap of District Finals against Hershey

#1 Palmyra was matched up against #2 Hershey, the Keystone rival that they had seen previously this season, going 1-1 in those two contests.  For the Lady Cougars, the key would be to beat Hershey goalie Kylie Mullen.  Hadley Hoffsmith was able to do just that a little two minutes into the game to give Palmyra the lead.  Avery Russell tacked on an insurance goal in the third quarter to seal the District Championship.  Palmyra used thirteen corners to pressure Hershey throughout the game, getting eight shots on goal.  The Palmyra defense limited Hershey to two shots on goal, which were both turned away by Haleigh Lambert.

Scoring for Palmyra was:
Q1: 1-0 Hadley Hoffsmith (Keely Bowers assisted)
Q3: 2-0 Avery Russell (Morgan Lantz assisted)



Chapter 5: Stay Sharp


Sunday, November 6th

Event: Film and Snacks 

Activities: Had snacks during film and then celebrated Big Dog and Bree’s birthdays with cake and ice cream afterwards. 

Thoughts/Feelings: Fun time, hard to focus on the film, but had a good time celebrating the birthdays!


Monday, November 7th 

Event: Practice 

Activities: Had a meeting with captains and coaches, warmed up, did a new DUTCH shooting drill, break-out box drill, played 3-goal game (very competitive), did offensive and defensive corners, ended with one v ones. 

Thoughts/Feelings: Good practice, spent more time playing 3-goal game than coaches planned on but it was fun and gets us very hyped with competitiveness and taking different shots; Practice wasn’t as focused or intense, but everyone played with a lot of energy and it was an enjoyable practice. Players were excited and it was maybe a mental break we needed. Ended practice with a huddle to refocus and prepare mentally for a big game tomorrow. 


Tuesday, November 8th 


Activities: Playing in the first round of states versus Merion Mercy. Dressed up for school; Won 3-1 

Thoughts/Feelings: Not our best game as a team, we were just a tick off all game. We had a lot of opportunities in the circle but couldn’t finish; survive and advance; first cold game of the postseason; wore our post-season uniforms for the first time this year. 



Recap of PIAA First Round against Merion Mercy Academy

Palmyra defeated Merion Mercy Academy    3-1


1Q:  1-0  Katie Lintz goal (Alicia Battistelli assisted)

2Q: 2-1 Hadley Hoffsmith goal (unassisted)

4Q: 3-1 Katie Lintz goal (Avery Russell assisted)

Key Stats

Palmyra 20 shots on goal to Merion Mercy’s 2

Palmyra goalie Haleigh Lambert had 1 save


Chapter 6: The Last Practice?


Wednesday, November 9th 

Event: Off Day 

Activities: Signing Day!!! 

Thoughts/Feelings: Nerve-wracking for those signing, but also super exciting; lots of teammates there to support; emotional day for coaches and players 


Thursday, November 10th 

Event: Practice and film 

Activities: Scrimmaged 7 aside, did the breakout box, played 3 goal game, one v ones

Thoughts/Feelings: High intensity practice, competitive.


Friday, November 11th 

Event: Practice 

Activities: Practiced at In the Net because of the rain, played 3 goal game, practice corners, did a shooting drill and then one v ones 

Thoughts/Feelings: Good practice, fun atmosphere; Had to have a talk at the end of practice about refocusing, reiterating collecting equipment and how big of a deal the postseason is. Talked about how any game or practice could be our last.


Saturday, November 12th


Activities: Played at Penn Manor versus Twin Valley; Won 5-0; Delayed start (1:15) due to Twin Valley bus problems 

Thoughts/Feelings: Dominated much of the game but struggled valuing possession and scoring early in the game, but this improved throughout. Not our best game, but the passing and ball movement was much improved from the last game. Communication could have been a little better. Fun bus ride there and back filled with lots of singing again.



Recap of PIAA Quarterfinals against Twin Valley

Palmyra defeated Twin Valley    5-0


1Q:  1-0 Olivia Kirkpatrick goal (unassisted)

3Q: 2-0 Avery Russell goal (unassisted); 3-0 Katie Lintz goal (Russell assisted)

4Q: 4-0 Olivia Kirkpatrick goal (unassisted); 5-0 Alicia Battistelli goal (Kirkpatrick assisted)

Key Stats

Palmyra 18 shots on goal to Twin Valley’s 1

Palmyra goalie Haleigh Lambert had 1 save

For more on this game, check out our full coverage



Chapter 7: Waiting to Exhale


Sunday, November 13th

Event: Off Day 

Activities: Film and snacks; Watched film of Gwynedd Mercy versus Northern

Thoughts/Feelings: More focused film session, brief (about an hour), but saw good notes from the film and felt more prepared for the game afterwards. 


Monday, November 14th

Event: Practice and sports psychology lesson 

Activities: We did a sports psych lesson with Coach Costello to discuss how we are going to get over our hurdles of our opponents, weather, refs, field conditions, etc. Then we warmed up, played 3-goal-game, and did corners and  one v ones. 

Thoughts/Feelings: COLD practice, felt like a short practice but it was good to talk through the hurdle activity in the beginning, hard to continue focusing because we just want to play; emphasized preparing physically and mentally for the cold and challenges of tomorrow 


Tuesday, November 15th 

Event: Game got postponed; Practice at In the Net 

Activities: Dressed up for school, but then the game got postponed. Did Dutch shooting drill, break out box, practiced defending 16 yard free hits out of the back field when the opponent hits big balls down the center, 7-aside offensive corners, and regular offensive and defensive corners, one v ones. 

Thoughts/Feelings: Frustrated with game postponement, everyone kind of had a rough day, turf was very slow and thick so it was a hard practice, got through it, ready to refocus and get it done tomorrow, another cold practice even though it was inside In the Net, snowed outside 


Wednesday, November 16th


Activities: Wore black postseason jerseys to school; Played at Governor Mifflin at 5pm; dismissal from school at 2:15; Won 3-1 

Thoughts/Feelings: War throughout the whole game; hype bus ride there and back; screamed songs the whole way there and back; pure joy and excitement. 



Recap of PIAA Semifinals against Gwynedd Mercy Academy

Palmyra defeated Gwynedd Mercy Academy     3-1 


2Q:  1-0 Katie Lintz goal (Addie Sholly assist)

3Q: 2-0 Avery Russell goal (unassisted)

4Q: 3-1 Alicia Battistelli goal (Russell assist)

Key Stats

Palmyra was outshot by Gwynedd Mercy 10 to 7

Each team has 6 corners in the contest

Palmyra recorded two defensive saves

Palmyra goalie Haleigh Lambert had 7 saves after facing 2 shots in the previous 2 games

For more on this game, check out our full coverage



Chapter 8: Heads Held High


Thursday, November 17th 

Event: Practice and film 

Activities: Watched film of our District games against Mechanicsburg, Villa Maria, and Mechanicsburg; Shooting drill, break out box, 3 goal game, 7-aside scrimmage, one v oness 

Thoughts/Feelings: Good practice, not our sharpest practice; some frustrations, but everyone just wants to win.


Friday, November 18th

Event: Last practice of the season 

Activities: Played 3 goal game, did corners, ended with a visualization in the garage 

Thoughts/Feelings: Freezing cold practice, very emotional afterwards. Had a big pep talk to end practice. Hasn’t fully sunk in that it was the seniors last high school practice.


Saturday, November 19th

Event: Team breakfast and STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME DAY

Activities: Had team breakfast at the Sholly’s and watched a video that Palmyra students, teachers, and community members submitted videos for, wishing us good luck. Send off at the high school was really fun with window markers for our cars, lots of parents/friends/community members cheering with signs. Got hype on the bus. Lost to Mechanicsburg 1-0 in overtime with 30 seconds left in the first overtime period. Everyone went back to the high school with parents and friends and family for pizza, salads, and other snacks and desserts. Really emotional goodbye, but still a lot of fun.

Thoughts/Feelings: Heartbreaking game. We worked so hard to get there. Still so proud of our team and how united we all were. We gave it our all. No shoulda, coulda, wouldas. It is rewarding how emotional everyone was that the season was over because it showed how much fun everyone had during the season and how much we all care about each other.


Recap of PIAA State Championship against Mechanicsburg

Mechanicsburg defeated Palmyra      1-0    1OT

Key Stats

Palmyra was outshot by Mechanicsburg 4 to 3

Palmyra was awarded 18 corners, while Mechanicsburg had 2

Palmyra goalie Haleigh Lambert had 3 saves, including a key save on a penalty stroke in the 3rd quarter to keep the game scoreless

Mechanicsburg added a defensive save

Mechanicsburg’s winning goal came with 30 seconds remaining in the first sudden death / golden goal overtime period



Chapter 9: Thanks For The Memories


Sunday, November 20th / Monday, November 21st

Event: Voting for the Player’s Player Award

Activities: The coaches sent a google survey to the captains to send to the team so each player could vote for one of their teammates (anonymously).  We voted for the The Player’s Player, which is an award that  represents the player who is the ultimate teammate. The Player’s Player is always working hard to make the team better and is always there for their teammates. The Player’s Player should embody the SCIJ values and be everything that you would expect of a complete teammate. The Player’s Player is respectful of their teammates AND coaches – without hesitation, 100% of the time. 


Tuesday, November 29th

Event: Brief team meeting (not including seniors) 

Activities: Captains spoke to the team about their experience as captains; what it takes to be a captain (time, communication, etc) and how it isn’t all just the fun of holding the trophy above our heads. However, we reiterated how rewarding and fun being a captain is. Then the team (not seniors) voted for next year’s captains and all players turned in their uniforms, parkas, and pinnies to close the year.


Sunday, December 4th

Event: Banquet at the Campbelltown Fire Hall with all players and parents, coaches, Mario and Spencer (our athletic trainers), Dr. Kepler (superintendent), and Coach Steelman (our middle school field hockey coach) 


– Big Dog welcomed everyone at the banquet and we said a blessing – During the meal (catered by Mission Barbeque) we all watched a video of pictures from the season and talked with our teammates and families

– Big Dog wrote his annual letter to the team and Coach Caroline read it to the audience

– Big Dog said a long list of Thank You’s from the season 

– The underclassmen were all introduced and given a small gift (a key chain with our acronym, SCIJ [Strength, Courage, Intensity, Joy]), as well as their certificates 

– The seniors were then recognized and a few underclassmen spoke about each senior. The seniors were also given the same key chain, as well as a senior gift (a PFH blanket) 

– The SCIJ Award, Unsung Hero Award, Wendy Reichenbach Award, and Player’s Player Award were presented to the deserving winners

– The captains thanked the coaches and gave them all gifts from the team

– Big Dog ended with his closing thoughts and then we all watched the senior video

– Players all took pictures together and hung out after the banquet 

Thoughts/Feelings: It was a really nice evening and everyone had a lot of fun being back together. The underclassman speeches were super emotional and it was really sad to say our “last goodbyes” even though we will still see each other around and be there to support each other on and off the field. The senior video was really empowering but also emotional looking back on our PFH careers. We are so grateful for the amazing season we have had, full of the best friendships, incredible coaching, amazing support and camaraderie, countless laughs, and determination and hard work. The season didn’t end as we would have hoped, but we enjoyed every second of it, lived it up to the fullest, and are incredibly proud and thankful for the special PFH cultured season we had.



Palmyra Field Hockey 2022 Roster


Alaina Bryan

Alicia Battistelli

Avery Russell

Haleigh Lambert

Katie Lintz

Olivia Kirkpatrick

Piper Taylor

Piper Taylor

Rachel Dilger

Rileigh Lambert


Addie Sholly

Alyssa Dugan

Keely Bowers

Laura Glasmire

Liv Gain

Maddie Blauch

Morgan Lantz

Payton Kane

Peyton Bean


Bri Eckenroth

Ella Longanecker

Hadley Hoffsmith

Jadyn Wagers

Kate Bixler

Mallory Hudson


Abby Bennett

AJ Walker

Avery Mettle

Bree Aughenbaugh

Jovie Weaver

Maddy Witt

Madi Gingrich

Shay Carl


Kent “Big Dog” Harshman (HC)

Kayla Ricker

Kristi Costello

Katie Dembrowski

Amy Kelly

Caroline Shearer

Erin Huffman

Megan Miller

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