Palmyra s Amber Bailey (17) scores around Susquehanna Township goalie Valerie Bailey and defender Lydia Humphrey as fellow Cougar Erin Huffman looks on
Palmyra s Amber Bailey (17) scores around Susquehanna Township goalie Valerie Bailey and defender Lydia Humphrey as fellow Cougar Erin Huffman looks on Saturday. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS ASHELY WALTER)
HERSHEY - Every team starts a season with goals, and one of the goals for the Palmyra field hockey team was to return to the state tournament.

With Saturday's 2-0 win over Susquehanna Township, the Cougars are headed back to the PIAA Class AA tournament as the fifth seed out of District Three. Palmyra will go on to face District One champion Villa Maria Academy Tuesday at 2 p.m. at West Chester East High School.

After a tough second-round setback to Donegal, the Cougars (19-3) were forced to win two consecutive games to make the state tournament. They started that trek with a 2-1 win over Milton Hershey on Wednesday and then finished it off Saturday.

"We obviously wanted to make it to the postseason, so we're here," said Palmyra head coach Kristi Costello. "We want to play as long as we can, we really enjoy our team. We have a chance. If you're still in it right now, you have a chance."

The victory came with a terrific defensive effort that thwarted the Indians attack. Allowing not a single shot in the contest, the Cougar defense was never really tested as the midfield and defense consistently stifled Susquehanna Township.

"We have a very strong midfield and defensively we were stepping up," said Costello. "We've really been trying to make our tackles outside of the circle. So I think our defense did a really nice job there. Really, our midfield is able to control the center of the field and I think that's what helped us a lot today.


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Palmyra midfielders Kendall Kreider and Katie Dembrowski consistently controlled the action and pace of play as they set up a majority of the Cougar chances with takeaways in the midfield. The first major chance came off a Susquehanna Township corner that Kreider intercepted and started into a counter attack.

Dembrowski helped finish that off with a fantastic cross from the right wing into the circle that Amber Bailey slammed home with 11:13 to go in the first half.

"Amber came across and kinda swept it in and it was a great finish," said Costello of the first goal. "The ball across was a smooth ball, and definitely getting hungry and just finishing it. It was a great stroke."

"You have no chance, really. ... It is difficult (the one-timer) and Amber is very good at that. She's scored a couple goals this year just finishing in the circle like that. She was low and had a nice finish."

Starting the second half with a one-goal lead, the Cougars continued to press, creating plenty of chances off an Indian squad trying to consistently hit the ball deep. Eventually that pressure benefited Palmyra as Megan Miller pounded home a rebound after Kreider's hard shot was initially stuffed by Indians goalie Val Bailey (seven saves).

The Cougars’ Katie Dembrowski keeps possession of the ball from the Indians  Maggie Reddecliff during Saturday s fifth-place game in Hershey.
The Cougars' Katie Dembrowski keeps possession of the ball from the Indians Maggie Reddecliff during Saturday s fifth-place game in Hershey. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS ASHELY WALTER)

"That second goal was crucial," Costello said of the importance of the second goal with a buzzing squad. "We kept knocking, kept knocking, so to get that one to fall was really great. Especially coming off with Megan finishing with a nice strike; that was awesome."

Palmyra outshot Susquehanna Township 9-0 on the contest and outcornered them 9-5 as well.

"We've been preparing for every game that it's one game at a time, especially after we lost to Donegal," Costello said, referring to the elimination aspect after the second-round loss. "We knew it was win and keep playing or lose and go home.

"We've really been trying to focus on each game we're about to play and focus on ourselves and what we can do as a team and what we can control. We've been trying to work on more goal-scoring opportunities in practice, so hopefully we'll keep moving forward."

Even though they are onto the state tournament, Costello and company will keep the one-game-at-a-time mentality as they prepare for the tough road they will face in the upcoming state tournament.

"We're gonna take it one game at a time and see if we can have a couple more games to play. We'd love to play on Nov. 17 (in the state final)."