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NEFFSVILLE - While L-L Section One field hockey has never been known as a walk in the park, sometimes a little "cherry-picking" along the way doesn't hurt.

Wednesday afternoon at Manheim Township, the Hempfield field hockey team broke loose for three second-half goals, the last on a pass from Brooke Troutman to Kyra Brakefield with 8:16 remaining, as the Lady Knights came from behind to defeat the host Blue Streaks, 3-2, in the Section One opener for both teams.

Township (0-1 L-L, 1-1 overall) jumped out to a 1-0 lead at the half and later led 2-1 with under 19 minutes to play. But Hempfield (1-0, 2-1) scored twice in the final ten minutes, with Troutman feeding Rachel Gantz at the 9:20 mark before finding Brakefield for the game-winner. Troutman assisted on all three Hempfield goals.

"I just saw Brooke coming down and I knew I had to get up there for her," said Brakefield of the breakaway. "As she was coming down I knew I had to have my stick on the ground. The ball was right there and I popped it into the goal."

After playing at midfield in previous seasons, Brakefield shifted to forward Wednesday as Hempfield's speed served them well.

"Our team is really fast," said Brakefield, a senior. "A lot of teams have speed but our team definitely has a lot of speed on all of our lines, not just our forwards. We have a lot of fast mids and defense. Recovery-wise, too."

While Hempfield was recovering from the early deficit, Township fell out of position when they were on offense or manufacturing one of 8 second-half corner opportunities.

"We definitely want to take advantage of our speed when we can," said Hempfield coach Julianne Bojanic-Collier, "but our forwards really did a good job holding space and we were able to take advantage of those breakaway situations."

"I think we got caught up in our attacking momentum and lost sight of the girls who were cherry-picking for Hempfield," said Township's head coach Renee Suter. "That's not something that we see every day but it was very smart by them, it worked twice. We can't let those mistakes happen twice, it can only happen once."

Though in her first year, Suter is no stranger to the grind of Section One, having been a standout player for perennial section champion Penn Manor in her high school days.

"I told the girls it's going to be a battle every single game and you have to come expecting that every time," Suter said. "We'll build on this. We have a huge game against Warwick on Friday-welcome to Section One. We have Hempfield, Warwick, and Penn Manor all in a week. That's the way it goes."

Township's first-half goal came off the stick of Paris Benfer when Hempfield's goalkeeper Hollyn Barr (14 saves) moved up to play a shot by MacKenzie Fuhrman. The ball trickled behind the senior goalie, however, allowing Benfer to find the cage.

Barr later made a diving stick-save on a hard shot by Fuhrman at the top of the circle to limit Township's momentum and allowing the Lady Knights to come back.

"I think that mentally, for us to come back after we put ourselves behind in the game was definitely a step in the right direction," said Bojanic-Collier. "Looking to extend our season and what kind of mentality we have to have to come back will help us in our tough games."

Hempfield knotted the score at 1-1 8:36 into the second half, Troutman's shot rebounding off Township goalkeeper Jordan Crispeno (10 saves) to Ally Letavic for the finishing stroke. Township answered right back, however, Emily Kurtz fighting through traffic to find the cage with 19:02 to play.

"Hempfield is a really talented team and for our girls to contend with them is awesome," Suter said. "Obviously I'm not happy that we lost; I hate losing, but that's the way it goes sometimes."

"Township is a good team, they came out really hard this year and they're always a tough rival for us, but we came back," Brakefield said. "All we have to do is make sure we play the full sixty minutes like we played the last ten minutes of this game."

Increasing the prospects of an even more "fruitful" season.

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Hempfield 3, Manheim Township 2

HM 0 3 - 3

MT 1 1 - 2

Hempfield scoring: A. Letavic (2nd, 21:24), R. Gantz (2nd, 9:20), K. Brakefield (2nd, 8:16)

Hempfield assists: Brooke Troutman 3

Manheim Township scoring: P. Benfer (1st, 7:59), E. Kurtz (2nd, 19:02)

Manheim Township assists: NA

Corners-Shots: HM 5-13, MT 9-16

Saves: HM H. Barr 14, MT J. Crispeno 10

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