Palmyra a 'Haus' on fire in route of Eastern York
HUMMELSTOWN — The Palmyra Cougars know how to defend their den.
It’s up to opposing teams, meanwhile, to defend against the Cougars’ “Haus.”
Sophomore Grant Haus led Palmyra’s scoring brigade with a career-best eight goals on Tuesday night as the top-seeded Cougars toppled ‘Cinderella’ Eastern York, 21-6, at Lower Dauphin Middle School.
The win advances Palmyra (21-1) to Thursday’s District Three Class-2A Final opposite Mid-Penn nemesis and No. 3 seed Hershey (15-6), a 12-8 winner over Lower Dauphin in the other semifinal, at Hershey Park Stadium. The game time is set for 5 p.m.
“First time in Palmyra history. It’s unbelievable,” Haus said of reaching the title game. “With the crowd here (tonight) and the support from family and the student section… especially with the guys here that we’re playing with, it just means the world to everyone.”
A defensive struggle in the first quarter soon ballooned into a sizeable Palmyra advantage, with Haus and Ethan Gain (four goals) scoring the first seven goals for the Cougars, who led 2-0 after one quarter and 10-2 at the half.
Haus had a hat-trick before the No. 12 Golden Knights (12-8) managed to crack the scoreboard, coming on a goal from Dom Particelli (two goals) with 6:39 left in the first half.
Palmyra responded on goals by Haus from long distance, a quick strike from Gain following the ensuing face-off, a goal from Pete Robertson and a goal from Kyle Nolen, his 80th of the season, with chants of MVP emanating from the crowd.
Following a goal from the Knights’ Jim Kurnik (two goals), Nolen took a figurative curtain call with five seconds left in the half on a wrap-around goal to keep the Cougars ahead by eight at the break.
“It’s mainly just due to our threats,” Haus said of the onslaught. “Kyle Nolen has had tons of goals this year, they’re trying to key on him, and that’s opening up for me a little bit.”
Once the floodgates opened, the Cougars seemed able to score at will in front of Eastern York goalkeeper Kevin Royce (13 saves).
“We executed our game plan that we wanted,” said head coach Dave Ondrusek. “We came out and obviously had a lot of shots on goal (56). Their goalie looked pretty good until we figured out the formula on how to get around him. …We just made the adjustments we needed to make and it worked from there.”
Though the Knights broke through with four goals in the third quarter, Palmyra’s defenders and midfielders maintained their high-energy play from start to finish.
“It all came down to hustle,” said sophomore Tate Wasson. “We broke it out right from the beginning: we said ‘hey guys, it’s all about the gritty plays tonight. It’s going to be what gets us to Thursday.’ It came down to brotherhood; it’s a great camaraderie.”
Wasson’s caused turnover in front of goal in the first quarter helped net-minder Anthony Bressi (five saves) maintain an early shutout.
Kyle Wasilewski, who chipped in with a pair of goals in the third, stripped a Knights’ attacker from behind to open the second quarter with all signs starting to point toward the Cougars’ dominating possession.
By this time, Nate Hawkins was winning the majority of his faceoffs against the Knights’ Kurnik. And with the whole team feeling it, Cam Ihli — who scored out of the gates in the second half — broke up an Eastern York possession behind the goal as the Cougars’ physical play began to overwhelm the Knights.
“We really like to play aggressive,” Wasson said. “We have the ability to play hard, go out on the ball quickly. We like to cause turnovers, play fast. We’re always talking out there. We know who’s going, who’s sliding… I think that’s what makes us so strong.”
Strong enough to reach the District Three final. And strong enough, perhaps, to top the Trojans, who gave the Cougars all they could handle in the regular season finale before the Cougars rallied for an 8-7 win earlier this month.
“It’s great just to take this step in the journey, and we’ll go on to the next step,” Ondrusek said. “I know the guys are excited; I know I’m excited. We’re just thrilled to be here.”
Palmyra 21, Eastern York 6
Eastern York scoring: J. Kurnik 2, D. Particelli 2, B. Henise, J. Gilbert
Palmyra scoring: G. Haus 8, E. Gain 4, K. Nolen 3, K. Wasilewski 2, P. Robertson, C. Ihli, T. Caton, C. Mangin
Palmyra assists: E. Gain 2, P. Robertson
SOG: EY 11; PL 34
SAVES: EY — K. Royce 13; PL — A. Bressi 5