For the third time this season, the Cedar Crest field hockey team got ever so close to winning. But once again, the Falcons had to settle for post-game consolation cookies instead of victory.
Considering how far the Falcons have come, they still tasted pretty good.
Princeton-bound Taylor Nolan, of Hempfield, dribbled 50 yards to score what proved to be the decisive goal Monday in a 3-2 Section One clash at Earl Boltz Stadium.
Seniors Maddie Gable and Maddie Barron scored first-half goals as Crest battled the Black Knights to a 2-2 halftime stalemate.
Nolan tore through the Falcons for the winning goal in the opening two minutes of the second half. The Black Knights then relied on their defense and Louisville-bound goalie Hollyn Barr to hold on for the win, despite Crest earning more corners (10-8) and shots (11-6).
"Yes, it was another tough loss, but we're getting closer," Falcons coach Dana Risser said. "This is the most competitive we've been against what I like to call the big three—Penn Manor, Hempfield and Warwick. We're used to losing to them 4-0 or 5-0."
The loss dropped Crest to 2-3 on the year and 1-2 in league play, while Hempfield improved to 4-2 and 3-0 in the L-L.
Of the Falcons' three losses, all came by one goal; first to Elizabethtown (1-0), reigning PIAA Class AAA co-champ Penn Manor (3-2) and Hempfield.
The Black Knights' two losses were to Palmyra, the other PIAA Class AAA co-champ, and Lower Dauphin, the District Three Class AAA champ.
"Cedar Crest played us tough; every bit as tough as Palmyra and Lower Dauphin," said Nolan, who also assisted on Brooke Trautman's goal that put Hempfield in front 2-1. "We knew in the second half we had to play our very best to win. We were fortunate to have Hollyn in goal. She came up huge for us."
Gable gave Crest a lead less than two minutes into the contest with a reverse shot fed by junior Emily Hombach. Hempfield's Kyra Brakefield equalized five minutes later, after receiving a pass from Claire Myers.
With 6:21 left in the half, Hempfield lined up for a corner. Trautman inserted to Nolan, who passed back to Trautman for the goal.
Crest answered three minutes later off its own corner, as senior midfielder Karis Colbert wound up for a shot while the ball fell to Barron, who beat Barr at the 27:32 mark.
The Falcon defense, led by senior Megan Kleinfelter, held its ground from there on out, except for the exceptional burst by Nolan.
"She ran 50 yards through us on the same line," Risser said. "She's very fast. We just couldn't get anybody to stop her."
But Risser was happy with how her team responded.
"We were very competitive," she said. "We actually out-played them as far as shots and corners. Barr had a big game in goal for them. She's very solid. We just need to work a little a little more on executing our corners. We're progressing."
Risser, Barron, Gable and Kleinfelter all agreed that with a few breaks and a little luck, the Falcons could be 5-0 instead of 2-3.
"Definitely," Risser said. "Field hockey is a game of inches. We're right there. We just need to keep working hard."
"Hempfield's a good team," Gable said. "They're very fast, but we played them tough. The next time we face them, we definitely could win."
Hempfield 3, Cedar Crest 2
First half — H: Kyra Brakefield, Brooke Trautman. CC: Maddie Gable, Maddie Barron.
Second half — H: Taylor Nolan.
Assists — H: Claire Myers, Nolan. CC: Emily Hombach, Karis Colbert.
Shots on goal — Hempfield 6, Cedar Crest 11.
Corners — Hempfield 8, Cedar Crest 10.
Goalies — H: Hollyn Barr (9 saves). CC: Kelsey Bell (3).