Wildcats take talents on road

Sentinel file photo
Greenwood’s Corissa Wagner fights for the ball earlier this season. The Wildcats play Gwynedd Mercy in the opening round of the Class A state tournament.

MILLERSTOWN — Greenwood field hockey coach Kent Houser is used to winning and appearing in the PIAA playoffs. The one thing he hasn’t done is capture a state championship.

Houser gets another chance as the Paityn Wirth-led Wildcats open the PIAA Class A playoffs for the second consecutive year against District 1 champ Gwynedd Mercy. The Wildcats beat the Monarchs 3-1 in the first round of the state playoffs a year ago.

Game time is 6 p.m. at Council Rock North High School, a trip not to the liking of Houser.

“We know a little bit about their style we don’t know what they have back. I’m certainly not real happy about the trip we have to make, but we have to make the most of the situation,” Houser said.

The Monarchs (15-8) defeated New Hope-Solebury for their second straight district title — thanks to senior captain Gabby Saxton, Alden Boccella and Lilly Gilmore. Gwynedd Mercy plays on turf nd the game is on turf — a definite disadvantage to a squad that plays on grass like Greenwood.

“They are a typical turf team that likes to transfer the ball. We had some trouble last year but made some adjustments and turned the game around,” Houser said. “We will work more at practice to prepare for that. It’s a little bit of a disadvantage when we play on turf. We can’t do some of the stuff other teams do. The sureness of passing takes awhile to adapt to and mimic.”

The Wildcats (18-5) finished third in the District 3 playoffs, losing 2-1 to Oley Valley in the semifinals. Wirth is the unquestioned leader of the squad. The junior is the all-time leading scorer in program history with over 200 points and 100 goals.

Keeper Kelsey Sheaffer has got to continue her solid play in the postseason if Greenwood hopes to stay alive.

“We have to play our game get the ball to attack and use our team speed. We can’t just focus on what they are doing,” Houser said. “On the one hand, if they are that worried about Paityn we have other people to do the job. I’m not sure how successful you’re going to be trying to stop her. Both physically and mentally we are in good shape. We have no injuries. The girls are excited about the opportunities we have atstates.”

According to Houser, the key for a Greenwood win is to start and maintain the aggressiveness that’s been the calling card of the team all season long.

“We have to attack and be aggressive. We have to get shots on goal and convert them into goals,” Houser said. “We have to be solid in our set pieces and just really be aggressive on our attack. That is the key to winning the game.”