Falcons fall to SL in field hockey playoffs
Salisbury field hockey head coach Jane Brennan knew last week’s district playoff game against Southern Lehigh could go either way.
The teams split their two regular season contests against Southern Lehigh. The latest meeting in the regular season finale saw Salisbury pull away with a 4-3 victory. But the Falcons knew the third meeting would be tough, especially after the Spartans advanced to the Colonial League championship game against Bangor.
Unfortunately for Brennan and the Falcons, that decisive third game went Southern Lehigh’s way. The Spartans scored two second-half goals to pick up the 2-0 win last Wednesday and advance to the District 11 Class 2A championship game.
“We played clean, competitive hockey,” Brennan said. “We had played them twice during the regular season and split with them. I thought we played well enough defensively to win the game, but we did not generate enough quality chances offensively.”
Southern Lehigh, the No. 2 seed, faces top-seeded Bangor on Wednesday in a rematch of the Colonial League finals.
After playing to a scoreless game in the first half, the second half got off to a similar start. It wasn’t until late when the Spartans were able to pull away.
Mackenzie Reese broke the scoreless tie with a goal with roughly 13 minutes to play that put the Spartans in front 1-0. Bryn Hughes added on another with four minutes remaining to cement the victory and a trip to their second championship game of the season.
“We continue to have the ability to be competitive against the top teams,” Brennan said. “During regular season play we were able to beat Moravian Academy, Northern Lehigh and Southern Lehigh, which were three of the four top teams in our league.”
While Brennan was impressed with Salisbury’s defense and shutting out the Spartans for much of the game, the offense struggled to generate the opportunities that Southern Lehigh was able to. Southern Lehigh outshot Salisbury 14-7.
Despite a loss to end its season, Salisbury has seemed to turn the corner under Brennan. The Falcons (8-8 Colonial League, 10-8 overall) finished with a .500 record in the Colonial League and just missed out on a league playoff spot while qualifying for districts once again.
“We had several quality wins in our conference and beat both of our nonconference opponents from the East Penn Conference, which I was vey proud of,” Brennan said. “Unfortunately we got swept by Northwestern and Palmerton in our division, and we lost to Pen Argyl, which were teams that had similar records to ours.
“Had half of those toss-up games gone our way, we obviously would have had a higher win total.”
Salisbury will graduate nine seniors this year and must figure out a way how to replace that production on the field. The most noticeable absences will be Kaitlyn Keller (11 goals, 7 assists) and Madison Jewell (5 goals and 13 assists), both Colonial League First-Team all-stars. Bella Martinez and Riley Stauffer, who both scored 13 goals and attend Central Catholic High School, will also graduate.
Peyton Stauffer, Riley Peters and Melinda Rivera all started on defense for Brennan.