BERWICK - A group of seniors.
One of the most overlooked things in scholastic sports is the camaraderie that players get throughout their high school careers. And the Greenwood field hockey team is no different.
It was a loss, sure. But a memorable senior class went out with a bang in 2012.
Sentinel photo by BRADLEY KREITZER
Greenwood’s Mackenzie Wirth, right, winds up for a shot as Crestwood’s Marissa Surdy approaches from behind Tuesday evening in Berwick.
Greenwood fell to Crestwood with a chance to reach the state final for the first time in school history. At legendary Crispin Field, where so many state and national football championships were won, Kent Houser saw his chance at state supremacy slip through his hands.
This time, it was against one of the best programs in the Northeast.
And to add insult to injury, it took two halves and two overtime periods to decide it.
"They've worked hard all season long," Houser said of his seniors. "The kids put in a lot of time in and outside of our program. We just can't seem to get over that hump."
And that hard work paid off with a trip deep into the postseason.
It was a team chalk full of upperclassmen, with nine seniors. Many thought this was the Wildcats' best chance of reaching the state's mountain top. But, in fact, it was a team from Mountain Top that cracked the Wildcats' playoff momentum.
And to lose in double overtime will sting anyone, especially when it was as cold as it was in Berwick.
"The truth is, I haven't even let it sink in yet," Houser said. "It's just really disappointing because we feel like it was a game that we could have went home with a win."
Greenwood opened the year with high hopes. The state tournament almost ended the way it started - Greenwood fell in the District 3 title game in penalty strokes, after 90 minutes of scoreless play.
In the opening round of the PIAA Class AA playoffs, the Wildcats blitzed through Line Mountain 3-0, a team that they had beaten twice previously in 2012. After advancing to the quarterfinals, Forbes Road was on tap next for Greenwood. This one was easy - the Wildcats were 6-1 winners.
That set up a state playoff date with Crestwood for the third straight year. In 2010, the Comets defeated Greenwood in the first round. Last season, the Wildcats got revenge before being knocked out by Villa Maria - the District 1 school Crestwood will be playing for the Class AA state title Saturday.
Prior to Greenwood's battle with Crestwood, Houser said, his team would "Play our game. Go play defense, keep our positioning, work on support - and play our game. It got us this far."
And it was the group of seniors, led by Tri-Valley League MVP Taylor Tompkins, that got things going to the Wildcats. And then she got things going again. There was only one thing that would keep Greenwood in the game, that was senior leadership - something that has been there all season.
"We knew we had a great group coming in," Houser said of this years bunch. "They showed a lot of leadership and set a nice tone on a day in and day out basis."
Losing a double overtime game like this one will stick with any player or coach for a while. Fortunately for Houser, he doesn't have a whole lot of time to dwell on it - basketball season is right around the corner, and he has a boys team to run.
But this season was special for the squad from Millerstown. With a record of 20-4-1, The Wildcats have nothing to hang their heads about. And it was the relationships built over the last four years that Houser knows, at the end of the day, are much more important than winning.
"I think what probably sticks with me the most is being with the kids everyday," he said. "They are fun and great to be around. They love the game and that makes it enjoyable for us."