HERSHEY - For a team that doesn't play on turf a lot, the Annville-Cleona field hockey team on Wednesday evening looked like a team that, well, plays on turf a lot.
Facing Wyomissing in a District 3 Class 1A opening round contest on the turf of Milton Hershey School's Henry Hershey Field, A-C looked sharp pretty much from start to finish, outshooting the Spartans 19-4 and outplaying them throughout en route to a convincing 3-0 victory.
Now 18-2 and bound for Saturday's quarterfinal round against Schuylkill Valley, a 5-0 winner over Elco, Annville-Cleona was playing just its fifth game out of 20 on turf Wednesday. But it sure didn't look that way, as A-C rang up early first half goals from Michaela Singer and Cass Connelly and never looked back.
"I think most of the girls would prefer it (playing on turf)," said A-C coach Sue Felty. "We don't play a lot on it, but I think they find they're more in their element. We like a good passing game and that certainly helps our passing game when we're on turf.
"We work a lot on some of those fine passing things and stick work, and we like a fast game so obviously turf speeds that up for us."
Idle since a 4-0 loss to Warwick in the first round of the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs on Oct. 15, A-C figured to have some rust to scrape off early, but none was apparent.
Singer opened the scoring by knocking in a pass from Katelyn Brightbill with 22:47 left in the first half, and four minutes later Connelly scored off a perfectly executed corner play, tapping in Lauren Schrader's shot at the left post for a 2-0 lead.
"After not playing for a week and a half, my biggest concern was coming out here and being sluggish and not able to get started," Felty said. "Those goals early were a huge lift."
Wyomissing (10-8) would apply some steady pressure late in the half, but A-C stood firm behind goalie Haley Zimmerman (4 saves) and continued to control most of the play after intermission, although the Spartans did provide some anxious moments with 9 penalty corner chances for the game.
"The last 10 minutes of the first half I felt like we were really back on our heels," Felty said. "And I think we we were tired. We lost some of our conditioning that we had a week and a half ago. But the defense came through. We had been concerned about our defense, but they really stepped up today and it was good to see that."
Emily Brightbill added an insurance goal with 3:48 left that closed out the scoring and gave A-C a district playoff win for the second straight season and another positive memory to go with its first Section 3 title in 44 years, captured a few weeks back.
"It feels really good," Felty said. "The girls were really ready for it, they've been firing up for a week and a half now. We're looking forward to (Saturday)."
Annville-Cleona 3, Wyomissing 0
Wyomissing 0 0 - 0
Annville-Cleona 2 1 - 3
Goals: A-C - Michaela Singer, Cass Connelly, Emily Brightbill
Assists: A-C - Katelyn Brightbill, Lauren Schrader
Shots: Annville-Cleona 19, Wyomissing 4
Saves: W - Tina Faust (16 saves), AC: Haley Zimmerman (4 saves)
Corners: Wyomissing 9, Annville-Cleona 6