MILLERSVILLE — It's no secret that the District 3 Class 3-A playoffs have been a rough spot for the highly successful Dallastown field hockey program since the turn of the century.
The Wildcats, who have dominated the York-Adams League during that span, entered districts this year with just five district victories total since the last time they qualified for the PIAA playoffs back in 1999.
Don’t think that both the Dallastown players and head coach Jeri Myers are unaware of that fact. Myers apparently brings up the point on several occasions each season.
That awareness acted as a motivational point of emphasis for this year’s Wildcat club. Fresh off another York-Adams League title last week, Dallastown looked like a team to be reckoned with Wednesday afternoon against Central Dauphin in a District 3 Class 3-A first-round contest at Penn Manor’s Comet Field.
The seventh-seeded Wildcats were able to control the play for the vast majority of the contest against the 10th-seeded Rams. Much to Myers' relief, her club was able to capitalize on that domination. A little more than eight minutes into play, Dallastown took the lead when Kiele Fullerton smacked home a goal to cap off a nifty four-player exchange.
The Wildcats were seemingly able to put the game away with under five minutes left when Jen Crumling was able to redirect a shot with her stick past the CD goalie. Despite allowing a goal with 15 seconds remaining, Dallastown was able to hang on for a satisfying 2-1 triumph over Central Dauphin.
Wednesday’s victory moves the Wildcats (17-4) into the district quarterfinals Saturday, when they will face second-seeded seeded Palmyra, which had a bye on Wednesday. Saturday's game is set for 3 p.m. at Milton Hershey. A win in that game will assure Dallastown of a state bid. Central Dauphin finished 9-11.
“This is really nice,” Crumling said. “Especially since last year we made it to the second round of districts and we lost. We really need to redeem ourselves and win this next game.”
When pressed on the importance of breaking a 17-year PIAA playoff drought, Crumling admitted that it was a topic of discussion between her teammates and the Dallastown coach.
“We haven’t been to states since 1999,” she said. “And coach (Myers) reminds us of that every year. She says, ‘93, '94, '99, so getting there again this year would be nice.”
Taking an early lead and controlling the flow of the contest was also a nice change for the Wildcats. Adding an insurance marker was even more enjoyable, given the fact that Myers’ team has scored more than one goal in a district game just twice since 2008.
What may have pleased Myers the most was to see her team execute a play they practice a lot to take the lead. The three touches before Fullerton rocketed in the opening goal were a thing of beauty for Myers, who has led the Dallastown program since 1981.
“Four passes in a row and then the shot,” Myers said. “That was really nice, and we’ve been working on that the past couple of practices — those little touches and passes inside the circle. And to see us score on one of those was nice.”
Myers also had to feel good that her defense limited the Rams to just one shot on goal, which was kicked away by goalie Syd Terroso, over the first 59-plus minutes. So good, that she actually didn’t appear overly upset when Central Dauphin cut the lead in half with only 15 seconds remaining.
“I know… but it’s OK,” she said with a smile. “We weren’t marking up as tight defensively as we should have been, but I think everybody gets a little comfortable when you have a two-goal lead. So it happens sometimes and we’re going to go on from here now.”
There is no doubt that Myers’ elation Wednesday would be dwarfed come Saturday if her team finds a way to get past a Palmyra side that enters the quarterfinal clash with a 16-2 mark.
“I know that they were up there (in the bleachers) checking us out,” Myers said. “But field hockey is a game where, if we can play our style, we’ll be OK.”
Gettysburg 5, Susquehannock 1: At York Springs, the Adams County Warriors won the District 3 Class 2-A first-round battle of York-Adams League foes. Fifth-seeded Gettysburg improved to 16-2-1. Susquehannock, seeded 12th, finishes 11-9. Gettysburg will now take on fourth-seeded Manheim Central at 1 p.m. Saturday at Penn Manor in a quarterfinal contest. Manheim Central moved to 15-5 with a 2-0 win over 13th-seeded Mechanicsburg.
New Oxford 3, Berks Catholic 0: At Lower Dauphin, the second-seeded Colonials blanked 15th-seeded Berks Catholic in a District 3 Class 2-A first-round battle. New Oxford improved to 15-2. Berks Catholic finishes 11-9. The Colonials will now take on seventh-seeded East Pennsboro at 3 p.m. Saturday at Lower Dauphin in a quarterfinal contest. East Pennsboro (17-3-1) beat 10th-seeded West Perry, 2-0.
Bermudian Springs 5, Bishop McDevitt 2: At York Suburban, the third-seeded Eagles rolled to a District 3, Class 1-A first-round win over 14th-seeded McDevitt. Bermudian improved to 18-2, while McDevitt finishes 8-7-3. The Eagles move to the quarterfinals and will take on sixth-seeded Boiling Springs, which beat 11th-seeded Kennard-Dale, 2-0. The Bubblers are now 13-6. The Eagles-Bubblers match is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Lower Dauphin.
Boiling Springs 2, Kennard-Dale 0: At Suburban, the Rams' season came to a close with a District 3 Class 1-A loss. K-D finishes at 11-6.
Newport 5, Littlestown 0: At Lower Dauphin, the Lady Bolts' season ended with a District 3 Class 1-A defeat. Littlestown, seeded 10th, finishes 12-7-1. Seventh-seeded Newport improved to 15-4.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.