Susquehannock field hockey stunned by New Oxford in first round of districts

The Warriors entered the district tournament 19-0 and seeded third, only to see their season screech to a halt.

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

GLEN ROCK — The tears in their eyes said it all. It wasn’t supposed to end this way for the Susquehannock field hockey team.

After an unbeaten regular season, the Division II champs claimed the program’s first-ever York-Adams League title with a thrilling victory over defending champ Central York last Saturday. Susquehannock earned the No. 3 seed in the District 3 Class 2A tournament and a date with No. 14 New Oxford, a team the Warriors defeated earlier in the season, in the first round. With the top six teams earning PIAA state tournament berths from the draw, Susquehannock had visions of a long and prosperous run into the month of November.

After a program-defining victory in the league playoffs, the Susky girls came out flat on Wednesday. The Colonials took advantage, jumping on the host Warriors early and gaining the contest’s first penalty corner. Seconds later, the home team found itself behind on the scoreboard as Sydney Winpigler rocketed in a shot from the top of the crease to put the Colonials up a mere 2:36 into the game.

As time wound down, quarter by quarter and minute by minute, the Warriors truly believed they could make up the difference. Junior standout Lilly Wojcik attempted to carry her team on her back by stick-handling through most of the Colonials at times to no avail. When the final horn sounded, a season that seemed destined for greatness was suddenly squashed out, as the New Oxford girls moved on to the district quarterfinals with a 1-0 triumph.

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“We’ve had a season of such success,” Warriors coach Sharon McLaughlin said. “And we’ve always come out, every game, slow. It’s always taken them the first 15 minutes to get their feet, and today they just couldn’t recover.”

Recover is not a word Susquehannock figured would be said about its team after the district tournament opener. Back-to-back 1-0 shutout victories in the league semifinals against rival York Suburban and in the finals against Central proved that the Division II champs could compete with, and beat, the most talented teams throughout the York-Adams League.

Maybe the Warriors overlooked the Colonials, a team they handled 4-2 back in early September, or were still riding high from Saturday’s triumph. Whatever it was, McLaughlin was not seeing the same team she’s coached all season long to 19 consecutive victories without a single setback.

“They were doing things they haven’t done all season,” McLaughlin said. “They weren’t going to the ball, they were deflecting the ball, they were putting balls into spaces where (New Oxford) was running into them … things they didn’t do all season.”

New Oxford's Zeddie Brown (00)  and betsy Figueroa (34) celebrating after their win over Susquehannock in Glen Rock on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022.

Wojcik tried her best to make it all up. A Princeton commit and top-10 prospect in the Class of 2024 by Max Field Hockey, the junior attempted to do too much at times. Her teammates mostly watched as their star teammate did her thing.

McLaughlin was not a fan of it.

“We played as a team all year,” McLaughlin said. “And when we had moments where they tried to play by themselves, that’s when we didn’t do well. We have to use each other, and in this game they didn’t use each other enough.”

The bittersweet taste of reality the Warriors were dealt Wednesday hit the entire squad, especially the six seniors — Maggie Grim, Elena Pasko, Lola Sroka, Dylan Elliott, Natalie Badour and Kaytlin O’Neill — who will not have a chance to make amends next season.

Neither will McLaughlin, who stepped in over the summer to assume the coaching duties after the school was left without a head coach. McLaughlin expects the school to hire a replacement sometime in the next few months.

“God has blessed us this season,” McLaughlin said. “He blessed us with friendships that they will remember forever. He’s blessed us with the development that helped them play an entirely different game this season then they have and I’ve been here watching them. They played an entirely different season and played as a team this year and had a lot of success.”