HUMMELSTOWN - Ten minutes into Saturday's PIAA Class AA field hockey semifinal at Lower Dauphin, Greenwood's defense broke down and Forbes Road easily put a ball in the cage, closing an early Greenwood lead to one goal.
It was the last chance the Cardinals had until just 10 minutes remained in the game, while Greenwood just kept on scoring - and for the first time in 20 years, the Wildcats are among the final four after a 6-1 victory.
Greenwood (20-3-1) will face Crestwood, a 1-0 winner over Selinsgrove, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Crispin Field in Berwick.
Sentinel photo by JEFF FISHBEIN
Greenwood’s Taylor Tompkins, right, plays a ball down toward teammate Brittany Fleisher (37) just outside the scoring circle during a PIAA Class AA field hockey semifinal game at Lower Dauphin Middle School Saturday. Surrounding the play are, from left, Greenwood’s Hattie Kuhns, Forbes Road’s Samantha Clippinger and Kiersten Cline, and Greenwood’s Mackenzie Wirth.
Greenwood set the tone for this one early - the Wildcats were awarded the first of their 13 penalty corners just 2 1/2 minutes into the game, and 20 seconds later were on the scoreboard after Mallory Fortenbaugh buried that one, which was tipped her way by Brittany Kuhns.
Kuhns played a huge role up front, assisting on two of three first-half tallies and scoring one herself after the break - a performance, she said, as good as the chocolate chip pancakes she ate for breakfast.
"It doesn't matter who scores. I'm just glad I'm getting assists in there," she said. "But it felt good to score."
IF YOU GO
Greenwood plays Crestwood Tuesday at Crispin Field in Berwick
Not quite three minutes more passed before the Wildcats made it 2-0, when a tight crossing pass from Kelsey Keener found the stick of Jordan Burkepile.
But the Cardinals were not out of this one - in fact, they were doing a surprisingly good job moving the ball against Greenwood, changing fields and twice penetrating Greenwood's defensive third.
And, while Greenwood's speed was an asset, the Wildcat defense misplayed one of those Forbes Road efforts. Keeper Katie Osborne got too far out of the goal and ended up on the ground, and no one from the backfield was there to sweep away an effort by the Cardinals' Malea Truax that made it 2-1.
"They did a good job getting the ball through us. They had some kids that could pass the ball, and they had some kids that could really hit the ball," Greenwood coach Kent Houser said. "My guess is that's petty much their game - they're going to put the ball up there and let their forwards run. They were scaring the daylights out of me in the first half."
The penalty corner proved to be the downfall of Forbes Road, though, as Greenwood converted another in the 16th minute of play. This time, it was Lauren Fried - the only player to score twice in the game - who finished the play, with Kuhns again getting the helper.
"That's what you want out of your corner game - to create shots, give yourself a chance to get in there at the pads and get something in," Houser said.
The rest of the half was dominated by the Wildcats, even though they failed to score again. And the second started just like the first - Greenwood scored early, and often.
Kuhns got her goal 90 seconds in, taking a pad save by Olivia Mills and sending it right back. It was the third try on goal on the same corner play, and it was the charm, giving the Wildcats an insurmountable lead with most of a half still to play.
"We were talking about how much better we were passing the ball around today with our defense," Kuhns said. "We got it to our defense and we moved it up the field not just dribbling but passing it up the field."
Fried scored her second on a delivery from Mackenzie Wirth, lifting the ball from the top of the circle into the goal.
The last goal showed just how beaten the Cardinals were, as Taylor Tompkins surgically sliced through the Forbes Road defense, carrying the ball rather than passing it into the circle and knocking it in - also the result of a penalty corner.
"I thought the second half we did a better job of containing them, putting them more where we wanted them," Houser said. "In the first half we were giving them too many holes."
The Cardinals' next and final chance to score a second goal came late in the game when most of Greenwood's starters were on the bench. Forbes Road drew two corners - its only two - with just over seven minutes to play, causing a bit of panic as Houser had to put a corner team together on the fly.
Notes: Donegal (District 3) and Villa Maria (District 1) are on the other side of the bracket. Donegal, which finished third in its district, eliminated Oley Valley, which beat Greenwood in the district final. ... Greenwood split with Crestwood in the first round of states each of the past two years, and fell to Villa Maria, the defending champion, in the quarterfinals last year.