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Greenwood plays Crestwood for chance at state final

November 13, 2012
Jeff Fishbein - Sentinel sports editor ( , Lewistown Sentinel

BERWICK - In 1993, Bill Clinton occupied the White House, the World Trade Center was attacked for the first time, gas was barely over a dollar a gallon - and Greenwood's Carrie Shea was a player in the state final four in field hockey.

Shea - well, now it's Guarante, and she's the assistant coach - and the Wildcats (20-3-1) are back in the semifinals of the PIAA Class AA tournament, taking on a somewhat familiar opponent, and one of the state's most storied programs, when they face Crestwood tonight at 7:30 at Berwick's Crispin Field.

Donegal, the third-place team from District 3, and District 1 champion Villa Maria are on the other side of the bracket. It will be the first state tournament field hockey game to be played at the stadium, which is home to a football team whose success at the state level is legendary.

Article Photos

Greenwood’s Brittany Fleisher, second from left, battles for possession against Forbes Road defenders at the PIAA Class AA field hockey quarterfinals Saturday in Hummelstown. Greenwood’s Mallory Fortenbaugh (24) looks on.

Sentinel file photo

Crestwood's experience at this level of play is well documented. The Comets (21-2) were a semifinalist in 2010 - after eliminating Greenwood in the first round - dropping out to eventual champion, and fellow District 2 school, Wyoming Seminary.

A year later, the Wildcats got revenge in the opening round, but were tossed by Villa Maria, which went on to be runner-up to Wyoming Seminary.

The fact that these two will be squaring off again is not lost on Greenwood coach Kent Houser.

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"I think it kind of says something about our kids, where our program's come from that we do get to play Crestwood three years in a row," he said.

Word came to Lower Dauphin at halftime Saturday that Crestwood would be the opponent for that game's winner after the Comets scored short-handed in the final seconds of the game to move on.

"That's the second time they beat Selinsgrove 1-0," Houser noted. "And I know they graduated a lot of players off the team we played last year. But they're always good - it's a phenomenal program, great coach."

On that last point, Houser would not be off to add an exclamation mark. Elvetta Gemski started the Crestwood program four decades ago, and has taken it to the top that many times. The Comets won their last state title in 2004; that was a back-to-back win for the venerable coach.

"Elvetta's over 600 wins now - she's in the hall of fame for a reason," Houser said.

Her 600th was against Mifflin County, after that first meeting with the Seals - both in the Selinsgrove Turf Fest early in the season. Gemski has won more than 80 percent of the games she's coached in her career.

"We're going to have to go play a great game. But it's the state semifinals, you should have to go play a great game," Houser said. "It should get hard. Four teams, there's nobody left who can't play."

Greenwood's team was in high spirits after a lopsided win over Forbes Road in the quarterfinals, and Houser doesn't expect to see any added pressure on his squad as it moves to the next level.

"We've played well, we've played well all year. It's just a matter of going out and playing," he said. "We've got to go play a good game again, we've got to play 60 good minutes. You have to at this level."

The teams have only one common opponents - Selinsgrove - which Greenwood beat 2-0 right after the Seals' first loss to Crestwood.

It's arguable whether either team had a difficult road in the state bracket. Crestwood drew the fourth-place team from District 3 in its opener, and while the Seals were the District 4 champs, it was a depleted Selinsgrove squad from years past.

Greenwood started with the team Selinsgrove beat in the District 4 final, and one the Wildcats dropped twice in the regular season - fellow Tri-Valley League member Line Mountain. Saturday's win was against a Forbes Road team that didn't even have to play a district game - the Districts 5-6 crown was uncontested because no District 6 teams entered; Forbes advanced over Shady Side in the de facto western final that is the first round of states.

"This team was a good team - I thought we played well," Houser said of the Cardinals. "I thought on Tuesday night (against Line Mountain) we played maybe our best game of the season. I thought that was our most complete game and the best we played as a team."

Here's what Houser's not going to do heading into Berwick tonight: change anything. The strategy, he said, is to "Play our game. Go play defense, keep our positioning, work on support - and play our game. It got us this far."



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