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CAMPBELLTOWN >> By virtue of the 10 a.m. starting time on a spectacularly sunny and breezy

Friday, Hempfield and Palmyra played the first scholastic field hockey game of the midstate

season.

The Cougars scored all of their goals in a 8:38 span of the second half to hold off the stubborn

Black Knights 3-1 in a non-league game at In The Net. Time will tell if it's the start of many

highlights for the Cougars, who are expected to contend for Mid-Penn Conference, District Three

and PIAA gold. The Cougars have a veteran team and are the defending AAA state co-champions.

"For the first game of the year we're happy to come away with a win against a great team like

Hempfield," Palmyra head coach Kristi Costello said.

The Cougars thoroughly dominated the first half, holding a huge edge in shots (12-4) and corners

(12-2). But the Cougars had trouble finishing their chances and solving Hempfield goalkeeper

Hollyn Barr, who was superhuman during the first 30 minutes.

There was no scoring in the first half, thanks mainly to Barr's 11 saves and her aggressive style of wandering way out of the net and challenging the Cougars' shooters.

"Hempfield was a great test for us," Costello said. "Hempfield was playing great defense. Their

keeper (Barr) played a great game. We'll find ways to finish the ball better."

Will the Cougars spend the early part of the season working on finishing off offensive chances?

"Yeah, and just finishing our corners," Costello said. "They were finding ways to shut us down

off the corners."

As the scoreless first half dragged on, Barr was flopping, diving and kicking out every shot

from the sticks of talented Cougar forwards Alexis Smith, Jess Dembrowski, Erin Huffman and

Kiley Gallagher. At the other end of the field, Palmyra goalie Cheyenne Sprecher wasn't as busy,

but she was solid with four saves.

With the Cougars controlling the ball, there was a feeling that if they scored, the floodgates

might open. That's exactly what happened at the outset of the second half.

Just 26 seconds into the half, Smith, a talented sophomore, got the first goal of the game on a

rebound. About two minutes later, Smith made it 2-0 when she tipped in a one-hopper from

Dembrowski.

Just over nine minutes into the half, Huffman gave the Cougars a 3-0 edge when she stuffed a

rebound past Barr, who made a great save initially but left the net wide-open for the rebound.

Hempfield avoided the shutout with 7:54 left when Kyra Brakefield scored off a feed by Ally

Letavic. The goal energized the Black Knights briefly, but they didn't have enough time to mount

a serious comeback.

Costello was pleased with her defense as well. Midfielders and backs Katelyn Mark, Kylie

Bomgardner, Hannah Marx, Kristen Robinson and Carli Herman kept chances to a minimum in front of

Sprecher.

"Overall, our team defense is very good, and we'll continue to work through different situations

that we didn't see today," Costello said. "They understand that they're the last line of defense

in front of the goal."

Assessing her team after one game in the first week of September, Costello said, "We have an

older team this year, so just play smarter, not necessarily harder. But it's early, and I'm happy with where we are at."

Palmyra 3, Hempfield 1

Hempfield01—1Palmyra03—3

First half — None

Second half — H: Kyra Brakefield. P: Alexis Smith 2, Erin Huffman.

Assists — H: Ally Letavic. P: Jessica Dembrowski.

Shots on goal — Palmyra 24, Hempfield 6

Corners — Palmyra 21, Hempfield 3

Goalies — H: Hollyn Barr (20 saves). P: Cheyenne Sprecher (5 saves). Defensive save: Hempfield 1.

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