MILLERSVILLE — For a team still alive in the state championships, there are several distractions at this time of year.
Graduation, holidays, summer vacation — all can take a toll on the psyche of a fragile team.
Susquehannock, however, would have none of it Tuesday, when the District 3 Class 2-A champions scored an impressive 16-7 victory over Quaker Valley of District 7 in the opening round of the PIAA Championships. With the triumph, the Lady Warriors advance to the Class 2-A Elite Eight, where they’ll meet Hershey, the fourth-place finisher from District 3. The Trojans routed District 7 champion Hampton in their first-round state game, 14-5.
The Susquehannock-Hershey game will be Saturday at a site and time to be determined. Susquehannock beat Hershey in the district semifinals, 18-10.
While it might have been easy for Susquehannock (21-3) to have a mental lapse, especially after last week’s history-making District 3 title, the Lady Warriors scored five goals in the first 4 minutes, 51 seconds against Quaker Valley, the third-place finisher from District 7, and were never threatened, although the Pittsburgh visitors settled down after the early barrage in an often physical contest.
“Last week was such a big game for us, and then with the holiday, we were very concerned,” Warriors coach Steve Marshner said. “But the way we played at the outset eased our concern, but Quaker Valley just started matching us when it was about 5-1 and from that point, it was kind of back and forth.”
Three goals by junior Riley Roeder and one each by Harley Mummert and Kayla Held gave Susquehannock that early advantage, and the Warriors maintained at least a five-goal cushion throughout.
“We did have a lot of open looks at the beginning, and our cuts were really working well,” said Roeder, who finished as the leading scorer with seven goals. "I think we’re just really pumped about it. We’re still making school history and don’t want it to end. If we stay focused and keep our mental toughness, we’ll see what happens.”
Quaker Valley coach Nellie Kraus agreed that Susquehannock’s early onslaught was key.
“They had us back on our heels a little bit,” she said. “They’re a really good team. I’m proud of our girls the way we fought back and played pretty even after that, but those early goals really hurt.”
Meanwhile, Marshner couldn’t say enough about Roeder.
"She was huge,” he said. “And her play was really big because Rachel (Marshner) went down (ankle injury) with about two-thirds of the game still to be played. Roeder came up big and was just awesome. She sits behind Gena (Speights) and Rachel and tonight was her night to shine. She comes out to play all the time and her shot was on tonight.”
Rachel Bould got Quaker Valley on the board at the 17:39 mark of the first half but unanswered goals by Roeder, Rachel Marshner and Speights made it 8-1 at the 10:19 mark. Marshner exited minutes later with her ankle and Quaker Valley scored two straight goals to cut the deficit to 8-3. Momentum was clearly on its side, but a goal with 1:57 by Emma Stiffler made it 9-3 before the Quakers would score a late first-half goal to make it 9-4 at intermission.
Goals By Kayla Held, Stiffler and Roeder in the first 6:13 of the second half gave the Warriors a 12-4 advantage. At one point of the second half, Quaker Valley was shorthanded by two players because of yellow cards, but the Quakers scored a goal shorthanded. However, it was too little, too late. Kenna Hancock added a second-half goal for Susquehannock.
Kennard-Dale 24, Danville 3: At Midd-West High School, the Rams had no problem disposing of the District 4 champion in a PIAA Class 2-A first-round contest. The District 3 runner-up Rams improved to 18-2-1. K-D moves to the state quarterfinals and will take on District 7 runner-up Oakland Catholic, which downed District 10 champion Fairview in its first-round state contest on Tuesday, 16-4. The site and time for Saturday's game has yet to be determined.
Radnor 13, York Catholic 6: At Spring-Ford High School, the Lady Irish saw their season end with a PIAA Class 2-A first-round setback to the District 1 champion. York Catholic, the third-place finisher from District 3, ended the season at 16-4-1.
Lansdale Catholic 14, Eastern York 8: At Germantown, the Golden Knights' magical postseason ride ended with a PIAA Class 2-A first-round loss to the District 12 champion. The contest was tied 7-7 at halftime, but the Golden Knights couldn't keep up in the second half. Eastern York finished at 13-9. They entered the District 3 playoffs as the 12th seed, but made a surprising to run finish third in the district.
Reach George Hammond at firstname.lastname@example.org.