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It's one thing to play against tough competition. It's another to coach in it.

Monday afternoon's field hockey contest between the Manheim Township Blue Streaks and the Penn Manor Comets featured just that dynamic, in which first-year head coach of the Streaks Renee Suter, a Penn Manor alum, found herself on competing sidelines versus her coach in high school, Matt Soto.

While the game itself saw Penn Manor down Manheim Township, 2-0 in which the Comets generated fifteen corners before the Blue Streaks earned their first, both head coaches remarked about the joy of competitive field hockey.

"I think a lot of people were hyped up for this game and the fact that we were playing each other," Suter said after the game. "Penn Manor is always a tough game and it was a tough game. But it was a good game, it was fun. And it's fun to play against someone like that.

"Coach Soto has had such a huge impact on my life in field hockey, so it's cool," she added. "He's gotten me to where I am today."

Following the clinching score on an assist from Gabby Bitts to Alyssa Schriver, Township increased its scoring efforts, generating five consecutive corners in the final 7:30 after being held without a corner or shot on goal for the length of the contest up until that point.

"I think that was their breaking point," Suter said on allowing the second goal. "That's when they decided to turn it on but on the opposite side of that is it can't come in the last seven minutes when we're down 2-0. It's going to be a battle out there so you have to bring it every minute of every game, for a full sixty minutes."

Even with Penn Manor's control of possession throughout the game, Township made the Comets earn everything they got.

"They're a really good defensive team, wouldn't you say? You have to give their coaching staff credit," Soto said, referencing the change in strategy that occurs when a new coach takes the helm of a section rival.

"This is a new year for Manheim Township and they are really well coached. They were last year as well, they always are on this field. (But it was) a new game plan, it was definitely challenging. And fun."

Despite the outcome, there was a clear connection for any casual fan who happened upon Monday's matchup. Never did a moment pass by in which either Suter or Soto weren't vocalizing instructions to their players, instituting focus and drive in their respective teams.

"He's different now to when I was in high school as a coach, I think," Suter surmised. "But I think our coaching styles are very similar in those constant feedbacks from a coach, saying 'you have to do this instead.' We're not really quiet."

While new coaches strengthen an already competitive Section One, Soto wasn't shy in his support of his former student.

"First of all, I love her positive attitude. Regardless of what's going on she's positive," he said. "Secondly, her kids know where to be almost every play and if they don't their told. As long as you have an idea, and she's terrific. I think she's doing a terrific job."

In fact, Suter has her team in contention in the early going, with a close win over Warwick on Friday preceding Monday's loss to the Comets.

"It was good for the girls to see that they can beat a talented team," Suter began, "a team that consistently goes to the district and state tournament every year and the league tournament every year and to see that they can do something.

"I am constantly telling them that they have to believe in themselves. I believe in them one hundred percent always but it has to come from within themselves, too. I think we're working on that piece still. It doesn't matter what their jersey says all that matters is that you're playing for Manheim Township. We're working on that."

Even if, not too long ago, you played for the coach on the opposite sideline.

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