WRIGHT TWP. — Pittston Area was gearing up to celebrate the end of its season on Sunday at its annual field hockey banquet. The players were set to turn in their uniforms and take field hockey off their minds for the rest of the year.
Instead, the banquet turned into a celebration of another kind.
The Patriots were figured to be held out of the PIAA District 2 Class AAA field hockey tournament following a 3-2 loss at the hands of Honesdale on Oct. 22. That paved way for Delaware Valley to earn the fourth seed and a matchup with Coughlin on Wednesday in the first round.
Just hours before the Patriots’ banquet, Pittston Area Athletic Director Charlie Turco informed Pittston Area coach Caitlin Hadzimichalis that the Patriots weren’t finished with their season. Turco said because of a miscalculation and the district not adding in ties, the Patriots were in fact tied with Delaware Valley following the regular season.
The Patriots finished the 2015 campaign 3-6-3. The Warriors were 4-7-1. Turco said District 2 calculated the winning percentages without adding in ties. Therefore, the initial thought was to leave the Patriots out of the playoffs. After District 2 realized both winning percentages were, in fact, the same, it was decided the two teams would play a play-in game on Monday at Crestwood.
“They were excited and ready to seize an opportunity,” Hadzimichalis said of her players. “They all came out prepared and it looked like they didn’t miss a beat.”
Crestwood Principal Chris Gegaris, the District 2 field hockey chairperson, couldn’t be reached for comment on Monday.
Both teams hadn’t played since Thursday, so practice time worried both coaches. They each said that had no effect on their players.
As far as shuffling things around, Turco said it wasn’t a big deal to get the plan in place to play on Monday. In his decades of being an athletic director, he said this is the latest he’s seen two teams have to prepare for a game in the postseason. There have been miscalculations in the past, he said, but not this late.
Delaware Valley won the game, 2-1 in double overtime, just 27 hours after the two teams were notified they were playing. The win left the Warriors back where they originally were coming out of the regular season.
The Patriot players were told to bring their uniforms to the banquet and hand them over to the coaching staff, signifying the end of the season. The banquet, Hadzimichalis said, was a celebration she never expected to have.
“The banquet was awesome,” Hadzimichalis said. “We had a great time and the whole time the girls were focused on the game.”
All of the senior players had prepared speeches for the banquet, Hadzimichalis said. Instead of speaking like it was the end of the season, many of the seniors added a “P.S.” to the end of their speeches.
“PS: We’re going to win,” is what Hadzimichalis said one of the players stated.
Delaware Valley coach Lindsay Gonzalez said her starting goalie, Sophia Festa, was on a college visit to Penn State. Festa’s mom had to rush out to State College to pick her up and bring her back for Monday’s game.
Gonzalez was formulating a gameplan for Coughlin all weekend. When she heard the news on Sunday, she said she had to hit the pause button.
“It consumed my entire Sunday,” she said. “We were getting ready for Coughlin and I had to pause and rethink. We didn’t have much of a game plan for Pittston Area.”
For now, however, the Pittston Area players can officially turn in their uniforms and get back to their lives without field hockey. And although Delaware Valley was already in the playoffs, they will get set to finally take on Coughlin on Wednesday.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick