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ANNVILLE - With both the Lancaster Catholic and Annville-Cleona field hockey teams playing hard to the final whistle, it was the visiting Crusaders who succeeded in a final sprint Tuesday.

Chasing an elusive game-tying goal in the second half, the Little Dutchmen twice had possession in the Crusaders’ circle during the final minute, but goalkeeper Claire Wolfe and her defense preserved a 1-0 shutout.

“Everybody was getting back there because they knew that these were the final 10 seconds,” said Catholic senior Izzy Miller, who scored the game’s only goal in the first half. “Like during preseason when coach (Megan Barben) says we have one more sprint even when she said the last one was our last, that really came into play there helping us get that little extra ‘oomph’ at the end of the game.”

The best opportunities for A-C (4-1, 2-1 Section Three) came on second-half centering passes by Lauren Shrader, as well as Emily Brightbill’s close-range shot at 9:30 to play. But Wolfe was there for the key stop time and time again, finishing 9-for-9 in save opportunities.

“That’s kind of been our story. We get them coming across, and we can’t seem to get in net,” A-C coach Sue Felty said. “The desperation all of a sudden brings out the way we should have played the whole game, unfortunately. Had we done that early on, who knows? They did a good job holding us off. They have a nice goalie in there and they defended well.”

Neither team could get much going in the first half until the Crusaders (4-3, 3-0) garnered the game’s first corner with five minutes remaining in the period.

But Miller got control in center circle and drew to the goalkeeper’s left before sweeping home the eventual game-winner at the 25:24 mark.

“We watched a lot of USA field hockey games this summer and one of the things that we took away from that is that corners led to a lot of opportunities for goals,” Barben said. “It’s actually our first goal this season off a corner, so it’s great it finally happened.

“The first of many, let’s just say that,” Miller added with a laugh.

In the game’s third minute, Miller drove the length of the far sideline for a shot on goal. The rebound was swept toward the cage, but Little Dutchmen defender Luuke Westelaken was there to sweep the ball away. A-C goalkeeper Haley Zimmerman finished with six saves.

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Despite the loss, Annville remains in the mix of highly competitive Section Three with Lancaster Catholic, Elco and Lancaster Mennonite.

The Raiders topped Mennonite, 4-1, on Tuesday, and will play Catholic on Thursday. The Little Dutchmen, meanwhile, get Mennonite next Monday.

“Coming in undefeated, we wanted to come out with the win,” Felty said of Tuesday’s loss. “When you play them twice you want to be the one to win the first one, so I’m hoping it at least makes us hungrier the second time. We have to play it to our advantage however we can.”

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