’Cats squeeze by stout Dragons on road to repeat

Sentinel photo by JEFF FISHBEIN
Greenwood’s Emma Rolston, right, fights Lewisburg’s Kara Koch for the ball during their first-round state game Tuesday at West Perry.

ELLIOTTSBURG — It wasn’t a pretty win for the Greenwood field hockey team but coach Kent Houser will take it.

The Wildcats began defense of their state championship with a 2-1 victory over Lewisburg in the opening round of the PIAA Class A field hockey championships Tuesday at West Perry.

“That’s what I said to the girls — 2-1 or 10-1 you move on and that’s all this is about right now,” Houser said. “It’s kind of a frustrating evening but we got through it with a win.”

Greenwood (20-1) will have to wait until later today to find out its Saturday quarterfinal opponent. Lansdale Catholic (District 12) and Sacred Heart (District 1) were postponed due to inclement weather in the eastern part of the state.

The Wildcats scored the game winner off a corner at the 33:34 mark when Sydney Hicks took a feed from Kenedy Stroup and put it in the back of the cage for the goal.

“Syd read the situation and made a nice play and had a great shot on it,” Houser said.

The Wildcats controlled the pace, time of possession and the midfield but couldn’t make the most of their numerous opportunities. Greenwood out-shot Lewisburg 14-2 and owned the corners by a 13-1 margin.

“I thought we played hard. I didn’t think we were laser focused tonight like you need to be this time of the year,” Houser said. “We have to clean up our receiving.”

Greenwood opened the scoring with 9:05 gone in the first half when Cori Davis took a pass from Hailey Womer on a breakaway, dribbled to the front of the net and ripped the shot into the left corner for a 1-0 lead.

The Green Dragons tied it up thanks to some help from the Wildcats. Greenwood found itself two players down when Abby Weger (pushing) and Paityn Wirth (throwing stick) were issued green cards less than a minute apart sent to the sidelines.

Lewisburg (15-7) took advantage of the gift when Gaby Markunas scored her 23rd goal of the season from 15 yards out with an assist from Allie Mast at 25:27 of the first half.

“When mistakes are made you have to take advantage of these opportunities and we did. It was a beautiful goal,” Lewisburg coach Jessica Zeller said. “Coming into play Greenwood, we knew it was going to be a ridiculously big challenge. We said no matter if we win or lose, we want to go in and play our best game and they literally played their best game ever. So much heart, effort and enthusiasm. We couldn’t ask for more.”

Greenwood blistered some heavy shots at the Lewisburg cage, including six shots by Wirth but Green Dragons keeper Kerstin Koons was a stone wall, knocking away shots with some sweet pad saves.

“Their goalie did a good job getting some things. We had a couple goals we scored called back on fouls. They did a good job on the corners. We got out with a win,” Houser said.

Koons, just a sophomore finished with eight saves.

“Koons had the best game of her life tonight and it was the perfect time for it. She was amazing and fearless. She did a fantastic job,” Zeller said. “I’m so glad we had the opportunity to play this game because it showed them the potential that they have. You play the same teams for the most part year after year and I love when we play teams we don’t typically play because they give more.”

Wirth was held scoreless for the second straight game but like they did against Oley Valley in the District 3 finals, her teammates had her back.

“Things center around her, but we have kids who can play, that’s for sure,” Houser said. “This isn’t a one-person team.”

Greenwood 2, Lewisburg 1

First half

G–Cori Davis (Hailey Womer), 9:05; L–Gaby Markunas (Allie Mast), 25:27.

Second half

G–Sydney Hicks (Kenedy Stroup), 33:34.

Shots: G-14-2. Corners: G 13-1. Saves: L-8 (Kerstin Koons); G-1 (Kelsey Sheaffer).