EXETER – Elco's field hockey season came to an end on Wednesday night in a 5-0 loss to Schuylkill Valley in the opening round of the District 3 1A playoffs, but the Raiders were still able to walk away with the satisfaction of knowing they had hit the target they set for themselves.
“This is exactly where we were hoping to be,” Raider head coach Lisa Kercher said. “We said before the first practice that this is exactly where we wanted to be, and the players did everything they could to get here.”
In the first Elco district field hockey playoff game since 2008, the Raiders (11-7-1) were able to generate brief moments of offensive pressure, but as the game wore on they were unable to keep the Panthers (17-2) in check.
Emma Bressler, in particular, proved to be difficult for Elco to mark. Bressler finished with three goals and an assist. The first goal, which put Schuylkill Valley up 2-0 just 1:58 before the half, was particularly damaging to the Raiders' chances.
“I was happiest with the first half,” Kercher said. “To go through the first 10 minutes and be 0-0, and so close to halftime before they got that second goal.”
The first goal by the Panthers, a tally by Kaydence Muller, was nearly answered by the Raiders. In the middle of the first half, Elco had three corners less than three minutes apart. Though a couple of them looked like scoring chances, none provided a shot on goal.
Elco finished with four corners and one shot on goal.
Meanwhile, the Panthers had nine corners at halftime and showed no signs of letting up after intermission. They picked up their 10th corner just 40 seconds into the second half, then made the score 3-0 on their 11th corner. That score was by Bressler with 26:23 left in the game.
Bressler assisted on Jenna Phillips' goal with 12:50 remaining, and finished off her hat trick with a goal with 7:12 on the clock.
Raider goalie Kendra Bicksler made 18 saves. Defender Siearra Swingholm had one defensive save behind her.
“I feel we were a little out of our element,” Kercher said. “This was a big atmosphere...but Schuylkill Valley is a good team. There's a reason that they're ranked No. 4 [in the District 3 power ratings].”
Schuylkill Valley finished with 27 shots on goal and 19 corners. Goalie Sierra Pullano had one save.
The Panthers will play Annville-Cleona, a 3-0 winner over Wyomissing, in the quarterfinals on Saturday at a site and time to be announced.