Bermudian Springs knew what was at stake when its field hockey team traveled to Hanover to face the Hawkettes.
Win, and the Eagles clinch at least a tie for the YAIAA Division III title.
Nine minutes into the game, Bermudian's Elana Keller found the back of the cage to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead. Six minutes later, teammate Katie Johnston added another tally to make it a 2-0 lead.
Fifteen minutes in, and the Eagles were on their way to clinching at least a share, something that became an outright championship on Monday when division runner-up Delone Catholic fell to Biglerville in overtime.
"Our ability to get those two early goals, I think, helped to take some steam out of Hanover," Bermudian Springs head coach
Johnston's goal was all the Eagles (12-1, 8-0 in YAIAA III) needed as they went on to win, 3-1, and to clinch the team's sixth straight division crown, including a title share with Biglerville in 2011.
"I thought we came out a little sluggish," Bixler said of Monday's game. "But, defensively, I thought we played pretty well. We had a lot of nice tackles and intercepted some passes. I thought we were better defensively today than offensively."
The Eagles used the speed of their forwards and midfielders to maximize their opportunities. On Johnston's goal, she had the ball at the 25-yard line and passed it forward to herself, which led
In the first half, Hanover (4-7-1, 2-5-1) came out looking rather tentative, but came out of the half rejuvenated and looking much more aggressive. Much of the first half was spent in the Hanover side of the field with Bermudian controlling the ball and forcing a lot of penalty corners.
The second half, though, was a different story.
Down 3-0 with less than three minutes left to go in the second half, Hanover's Lynne Eisenberg found an open Mackenzie Naill, who hammered home the shot to put the Nighthawks on the board.
"We made some switches at halftime to kind of fit how they were beating us," Hanover head coach Gail Anderson said. "So we made some player switches so that we could match up better, win some one-on-one's, and get it down in their zone."
For Hanover, it wasn't enough.
Despite the win, Bixler wasn't totally satisfied with the performance from his girls.
"I didn't think our stickwork was great," Bixler said. "I thought we fell into double-teams way too much and play on the left side of the field for too much of the game."
With five games left, the Eagles have some time to work out the kinks prior to heading into the YAIAA and District 3 playoffs.
"Tomorrow (Tuesday) at practice, we are going to work on our give-and-go passing," Bixler said. "We didn't do that well enough and that is a huge strength of ours, so we need to work more on that."
The Eagles have five more games left in their regular season.
"We have played very consistently all year," Bixler said. "We have had eight or nine people score this year and have been very balanced from that standpoint, and we have also scored (about) 55 goals and 42 of those have been on assists. That tells you we are passing and hitting the open man.
"That's what we need to continue doing in order to find success as the season continues."
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BERMUDIAN SPRINGS 3, HANOVER 1
Bermudian Springs -- 2 1 -- 3
Hanover -- 0 1 -- 1
First Half -- 1. BeS. Elana Keller, 21:00; 2. BeS. Katie Johnston, 15:30.
Second Half -- 3. BeS. Amy Thoman (Rajchel Moore), 5:57. 4. Han. Mackenzie Naill (Lynne Eisenberg), 2:02.
Shots On Goal -- BeS. 26, Han. 3.
Corners -- BeS. 11, Han. 4.
Goalies -- BeS. Sarah Crane (1 save), Han. Caleb Gerlach (19 saves).
JV Score --Hanover 2, Bermudian Springs 2.