WRIGHT TWP. — Pittston Area is no stranger to playing in overtime. In fact, the overtime games the Patriots played in this year is what kept them in the district championships.
Lo and behold, Pittston Area and Delaware Valley needed two overtimes to help settle the PIAA District 2 Class 3A field hockey play-in game on Monday.
Six minutes into the second overtime, however, Delaware Valley’s Kara Gearhart scored the unassisted goal that ended the Patriots’ season.
Gearhart’s goal gave the Warriors a 2-1 win and a matchup at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday at top-seed Coughlin.
When the district seedings came out last week, the Patriots were left out of the playoffs and the Warriors were given the fourth seed. On Sunday, however, the district informed the teams there was a miscalculation and the two would need to play a play-in game to decide the final spot in the Class 3A field.
Pittston Area and Delaware Valley were tied at one just 12 minutes into the game. From there, however, defense and play from both goalkeepers allowed the overtime periods to come to fruition.
“We couldn’t find the back of the cage,” Pittston Area coach Caitlin Hadzimichalis said. “We got a little stagnant in the circle and we were carrying it too much. We needed to fire it on the cage.”
In the second of two 15-minute overtime periods, things started to open up for both teams. In field hockey, teams play with six players in overtime, as opposed to the normal 10. With six minutes off the clock in the second OT, Pittston Area was in the DelVal zone with some momentum.
One swing of the stick from a DelVal defender, however, swung momentum to the Warriors.
Gearhart took the strong pass at midfield and had two Patriots to beat. She got past the first defender but Haley Norwillo and goalkeeper Shelby Gardner remained in her way. Gearhart swung past Norwillo with a pop-up move and shot to the side of Gardner for the sudden-death victory goal.
“We’ve been practicing the one-on-one a lot lately because I get most of them,” Gearhart said. “I knew that I could do it and I was able to get it in the cage.”
The Patriot defenders were unsure of what they should do when the speedy Gearhart was carrying the ball into their zone.
“We didn’t know if we should come up at her or try and channel her,” Hadzimichalis said. “She’s a very fast player and she was able to get it in.”
The Patriots got on the board first, in a big way.
With six minutes gone in the first half, the Patriots were awarded their second penalty corner of the first half. Molly Walsh took the corner and sent a screamer out to Paige Danko. Danko blasted a shot from the center of the field. A Warrior defender got her stick on the shot and the ball popped into the air. DelVal goalkeeper Sophia Festa couldn’t reach the ball and it went into the back of the cage.
Penalty corners played a large part in the matchup between the two teams. Combined, the teams were awarded 24 penalty corners. DelVal tied the game on a corner six minutes after Danko’s tally.
PIAA District 2 Class AAA play-in
Delaware Valley 2, Pittston Area 1, 2OT
Delaware Valley `1`0`0`1—`2
First half — 1. PA, Paige Danko (Molly Walsh), 24:08; 2. Lyndsay Floystad (unassisted), 18:43. Second half — No scoring. First overtime — No scoring. Second overtime — 3. Kara Gearhart (unassisted), 9:32.
Shots — PA 7; DV 9. Saves — PA 9 (Shelby Gardner); DV 6 (Sophia Festa). Penalty corners — PA 11; DV 13.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick