Dallastown head coach Jeri Myers.
Dallastown head coach Jeri Myers.
Longtime Dallastown field hockey coach Jeri Myers started in 1981 with a 3-10 record.

Those kinds of marks are a thing of the past.

The Wildcats have experienced success on the field like few other league teams: they claimed six division titles from 1995-2000 and were at the top again from 2003-2008.

Myers took some time out to reflect on the Wildcats' success:

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Dallastown’s Suzi Sutton, right, bangs a shot past a Shippensburg defender in this October 1999 photo.
Dallastown's Suzi Sutton, right, bangs a shot past a Shippensburg defender in this October 1999 photo. (Daily Record/Sunday News - file)

Throughout the division title runs from 1995 to 2000 and 2003 to 2008, is there a memory that stands out for you?

Making it to final four in '98. And states, obviously. That year, '98, in particular, I didn't have any weaknesses in the lineup. Not that I ever have many weaknesses. We had 11 good starting players that season. A big key was the goalkeeper. We had Lindsey Calabretta in goal cage. Another big factor that season was Suzi Sutton, who played center midfield.

Was there a player that you feel was an unsung hero, someone who wasn't always in the spotlight but was vital to the team's success?

With the runs and success we had, everyone on the team was an unsung hero. They gave up the ball (to their teammates). One of our forwards in particular said it best. Katie Bishard (Class of 1999) said it was the pass before that let her score the goal. I have to say (that to have that level of success) it takes really good skilled players like Suzi and a couple other key players, but it really was a total team effort. One district game (in 1999) I put in a sophomore. Allison Poff that added the extra spark we needed. That win got us to states that year. One superstar does not win a game.

Dallastown’s Katelyn Panaro, right, helps teammate Kelsey Tucker up after an overzealous congratulatory hug landed them both on the ground during a
Dallastown's Katelyn Panaro, right, helps teammate Kelsey Tucker up after an overzealous congratulatory hug landed them both on the ground during a rivalry match between the Wildcats and the Red Lion Lions in October 2005. (Daily Record/Sunday News - file)

Comparing streaks, how would the players from the 90s' streak compare to the players in the 2000s? Who would win an all-star battle?

(Laughing.) It's hard to say. The level of competition in the league has improved. (In the 90s) we played totally different people; we played everyone. Now the league has changed. Now we play different competition. It's really hard to say.

From 1995-99, you didn't lose a league game. Was that a big deal for you and the team? How did you handle that streak?

You have to realize every game is a championship game. Everyone is going to have a great game when they play us. The teams we play wanted to beat us. (During those years,) they had never beaten us. A win against us could make their season. No matter what happened against other teams, they wanted to say that they beat us. We had to get up (and play our best) for every single game. (Field hockey is) not like a sport where you have single effort. Everyone has to be on top of their game for us to win. Watching from the sidelines, I could see when there were problems. When things break down, I can see exactly what led to the goal.

Do you remember the loss that ended that streak?

We had just gotten the scoreboard. It was the first time we used it, and it was a big deal to post the first winning score on it. Red Lion beat us, 1-0. When Red Lion scored on us, it created a frenzy. The 2000 team had a lot of pressure on them; they were trying to win their sixth title. We had a hard time getting goals in. When we lost, they were upset. They were crying. I had to tell them "Guys, you still won the championship." Sometimes you have to put it in perspective. They felt like they had let down the undefeated run and the past teams.

How has your experience helped these teams find success?

Year 29 is coming up. I think biggest thing that benefits my teams is that I'm still a player. I play in tournaments. I play on club teams, and I play against better players and strong competition. I create drills based on things from my games. Basically, this is what I saw, and we're going to try this.

Keri Garrety, center, of Dallastown defends against Wilson players during the second half of District 3 Class AAA tournament in October 2003.
Keri Garrety, center, of Dallastown defends against Wilson players during the second half of District 3 Class AAA tournament in October 2003. (Daily Record/Sunday News - file)
 I'm a constant observer of what others are doing. It helps being up on the game. It gets harder and harder every year (to find the same level of success). It is nice to see other teams (in the YAIAA) improve. It's also nice to see the league getting some recognition as players go on to play at higher levels. The college players bring recognition to the league (and its level of play).

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Claim to fame


   Dallastown has a solid feeder program that runs through junior high, allowing players to work together for years before reaching the varsity level. Coaches who maintain a high commitment level and teach strategy and execution. The program has created a tradition of winning that players and coaches alike are aware of and feel an obligation to sustain.
  

Records


   Suzi Sutton scored a school-record 61 goals during her career (1996-99); set single-season record of 30 during her senior year in 1999... Goalkeeper Lindsey Calabretta had 13 shutouts in 1998
  

All-stars


   Player of the Year -- Erin Markle (2008), Hanna Sylo (2007), Aubrey Carman (2004), Suzi Sutton (1998, 1999), Heather Platzer (1996, 1997), Alison Milligan (1995)
   First Team -- Emily Kohlbus (2008), Trisha Gohn (2007), Jordan Henry (2007), Amanda Strous (2006), Kelsey Tucker (2005, 2006), Aubrey Carman (2003, 2004, 2005), Kayla Marquet (2005), Sarah McGowan (2004, 2005), Amanda Young (2005), Shannon Hemberger (2003, 2004), Ali Merrifield (2004), Sarah Carl (2003), Ann Marsala (2003), Alison Poff (2000), Ashley Robertson (2000), Bethany Sivulka (2000), Katie Bishard (1998), Sarah Hartman (1998), Lindsey Calabretta (1998), Suzi Sutton (1997), Marianne Mason (1997)
   Second Team -- Heather Miller (2003)
   Honorable Mention -- Jen Burget (1997), Jamie Clark (1997), Bridget Fabie (1997), Amy Dubbs (1996, 1995), Elisabeth Hartman (1996), Steph Kays (1996), Cindy Lehman (1996), Heather Platzer (1995), Sarah Ryan (1995), Steph Kays (1995), Suzie Yates (1995)
   Coach of the Year -- Jeri Myers (1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008)
 

Postseason


   2008 -- Lost to Chambersburg, 4-3, in first round of District 3 Class AAA tournament
   2007 -- Lost to Hempfield, 3-1, in first round of District 3 Class AAA tournament
   2006 -- Defeated Cocalico in first round of District 3 Class AAA tournament; lost to Wilson in second round
   2005 -- Defeated Conestoga Valley, 1-0, in overtime in first round of District 3 Class AAA tournament; lost to Cocalico, 1-0, in second round; lost to Lower Dauphin, 1-0, in consolation semifinal
   2004 -- Lost to Exeter, 1-0, in first round of District 3 Class AAA tournament
   2003 -- Defeated Red Land, 2-0, in first round of District 3 Class AAA tournament; lost to Wilson, 2-0, in second round
   2000 -- Lost to Manheim Township in District 3 Class AAA tournament
   1999 -- Finished fifth in District 3 Class AAA tournament; qualified for PIAA play
   1998 -- Earned first state tournament victory; Reached PIAA Class AAA semifinals
   1997 -- Lost to Manheim Township, 4-1, in first round of PIAA Class AAA tournament
   1996 -- Lost to Garden Spot 1-0 (penalty strokes) in first round of PIAA Class AAA tournament
   1995 -- Defeated Central York 3-1 in District 3 Class AAA first round; lost to Manheim Township 1-0 in quarterfinals
  

College success


   Suzi Sutton -- Northwestern University, 2001, All Big-Ten second team at midfielder

From the archives


"Wildcats rally past Panthers in OT"

(published Oct. 2, 2008)

The Wildcats trailed Central York 2-0 but scored twice in the final 11:40 of regulation to even the score. Jenna Miller had the first goal off a deflection. Miller tied the score with 3:32 remaining off a rebound of a Lauren Sweitzer shot. Emma Sweitzer scored the game-winner off Emma Markle's penalty corner pass with 42 seconds left in overtime .

"These girls have the 'it' factor," Myers said, fighting back tears. "It's something you can't coach -- it's (innate). They have 'it' in their hearts, and they believe in each other. It's what champions have, and I can't explain it."
  

"300 wins and still counting"

(published Sept. 12, 2005)

The year was 1981, and Dallastown's new field hockey coach had just finished her first season with a 3-10 record.

So the start wasn't so hot.

But 25 years later, Jeri Myers is still patrolling the sidelines for the Wildcats. And 3-10 records have long since become a thing of the past.

Myers gained elite status Friday during the finals of the Dallastown Invitational tournament. The Wildcats knocked off Susquenita, the team that had won the invitational the past three years, to capture the title for themselves.

The 1-0 victory, combined with an earlier 6-1 semifinal win over York Suburban, gave Myers her 300th coaching victory at Dallastown.

Her coaching philosophy has changed little over the years. She wants to be fair and wants her players to be good sports. She equates field hockey to life.

The coach has also been known to communicate strongly with her teams. She always gets her point across. Like against York Suburban, when she called timeout and gave her starters a two-minute warning to start executing. The team responded by scoring two goals in the next two minutes.

"I try to help them prepare for life," Myers said. "I am not going to be out on the field if it is a waste of time. The bottom line is when it stops being fun, I will be done."
  

"Wildcats get their revenge"

(published Sept. 24, 2004)

Fortunately for Dallastown, (coach Jeri) Myers also had the team working on deflections and (Keri) Garrety's goal came off a perfect tip of a hard cross from freshman Hanna Sylo, for what would be the game-winner.

"We had been working on deflections before the game started," the coach said. "That is a key thing. It's a game of being in the right place at the right time and having your stick down."

"At practice we work on fronting the goalie and staying in front and turning your stick so it deflects instead of swinging your stick," Garrety added. "You have to stand there and angle the stick toward the goalie. I am used to the ball crossing, so I saw it coming and just touched it in."

Garrety's goal came with under nine minutes remaining against archrival South Western, breaking a 1-1 tie. The Wildcats went on to win 3-1.
  

"Wildcats wear the crown"

(published Oct. 15, 2003)

Shannon Hemberger converted a penalty corner 10 minutes into the first half Tuesday, which was all the Wildcats needed to knock off Central York for the second straight day, 3-0, clinching the YAIAA Division I field hockey title.

Dallastown (13-2, 11-1 Division I) beat the Panthers (5-9-1, 4-8) on the road Monday, 1-0.

Kristy Potter and Alyssa Fiore added goals in the second half, both coming off penalty corners, to secure the victory.

It was the first league title for Dallastown since 2000, when the Wildcats won their sixth straight championship. \

"We had a group of seniors that last spring decided this is where they wanted to go," said Dallastown coach Jeri Myers. "You do team things during the season, but become athletes out of the season. These seniors came to camp in shape, and that's what it's all about. "You have to control the things you can control, like getting in the best shape possible, working on your skills and doing what it takes to become a champion."
  

"Dallastown success a town effort"

(published Aug. 31, 2000)

Jeri Myers, 46, begins her 20th season at the helm with a staggering 223 career wins. She's led Dallastown to seven league titles in all. To put the streak in perspective, the Northwestern University-bound Suzi Sutton -- recognized as the best player in the program's history -- had just turned 13 years old and was in seventh grade the last time the Wildcats lost a league game.

That fact proves the run not to be a by-product of just one or two superstar players. A successful feeder program is paramount to sustained excellence, and Dallastown has it in the form of junior high school coach Kelly Strayer, an alum who played for Myers in goal the late 1980s.

Myers gives a large chunk of credit to Strayer -- as well as high school assistants Ann Welker and Erin Van Atter -- for sending her technically sound, polished players by the time they reach high school.

Always competitive, the program took off with Strayer's 1992 homecoming. Off the bat, the 'Cats are ahead of every team in the region. Less time is spent on field hockey's fundamentals, more on strategy and execution.

"Kelly's the foundation of my program," Myers said. "Freshman players understand my expectations. She's creating her program to produce varsity players.... You're only as good a coach as you have great assistants under you. One person doesn't make it."
  

"Wildcats retain pick of the litter"

(published Aug. 31, 2000)

The graduation of 29 seniors from Dallastown's field hockey program has returned coach Jeri Myers to a teaching mode.

"I am a teacher again," Myers said after a recent practice. "Last year I was sitting back and subbing people in and everybody knew what was going on. It's a little bit harder this year. We have a lot of teaching to do, but we have a lot of enthusiasm and lot of people willing to learn. This year we have things to keep working on and we just have to keep emphasizing the work."

Myers welcomes the challenge of teaching the energetic group. She also realizes that regardless of the abnormal number of kids who graduated, the Wildcats are still going to be the team everyone is gunning for.

"This is my true teaching position here I am a teacher and not a disciplinarian like I am in class," said Myers, a high school health and physical education teacher. "This is my joy. The kids want to be here, they are having fun and they are enthusiastic about learning new things. It's not like pulling teeth to get them interested like you do in class sometimes. Here I have my group of quality kids it's fun for me and for them.

"I told the seniors that ... the incentive for the other schools is to beat Dallastown. Every year the pressure is higher and higher. When you are high on the platform everybody wants something bad to happen to you."

Sherry Coons and Mark Paules