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PALMYRA >> The Palmyra field hockey team has a number of go-to catch phrases it uses to reinforce its commitment to excellence.

One of them, "Don't get bitter, get better", was particularly appropriate on Monday night.

The Cougars had every opportunity to allow a little bitterness to seep into their collective psyche last month after a heartbreaking and somewhat controversial overtime loss to arch rival Lower Dauphin that was followed a few days later by another OT setback to Penn Manor in a rematch of last season's AAA state title game.

This just in: They chose the latter option instead.

Palmyra continued to recover from that rough week Monday, avenging the earlier LD defeat with a razor sharp 1-0 victory over their fellow superpower in the rematch at In The Net.

Kiley Gallagher's reverse stick score off a penalty corner play with 4:44 left in the first half stood up as the game's lone goal, thanks to a stellar Palmyra defensive effort and seamless execution of its tried-and-true short passing game, and it moved the Cougars to the brink of a coveted Mid-Penn Keystone Division title.

Now 15-2 overall and 10-1 in the Keystone, Palmyra can sew up the division with a win against Susquehanna Township on Wednesday and also clinch a Mid-Penn playoff berth in the process.

Clearly, getting better >> getting bitter.

"I think we definitely grew as a team from that loss," said Palmyra coach Kristi Costello of the first LD game. "I definitely do think that made us stronger, and I hope we continue to move forward. I don't want this to be the peak."

"I think a loss early in the season is sometimes a good thing," said senior back and defensive anchor Carli Herman, who was simply all over the place in the win. "It helps us grow and learn what we need to be better at. When you're winning games consistently, sometimes you don't grow and improve at anything.

"As a team we've just been playing a lot better and doing things as a team and not trying to do it all ourselves."

And the win was truly of the team variety. Although Gallagher was the offensive heroine and Herman the defensive star, the Cougars functioned superbly as a unit, particularly in the first half when they were a step quicker and a pass ahead of LD (14-2-1, 9-1-1) throughout.

"I think the team just realized their strength is in the team," said Costello, who also attributed Palmyra's play to its liking for the fast In The Net turf. "Lower Dauphin is a great competitor, so we knew that we couldn't do it individually. I thought that our passing game was much better today than it was before. And the surface is huge for us, with the skill level."

Statistically, Palmyra dominated, outshooting the Falcons 13-3 and producing a 16-3 advantage in penalty corners.

But it still wasn't easy, especially after intermission as LD applied consistent pressure in the Cougars' defensive zone that was met with resistance each time from Herman and backfield partners Katelyn Mark, Kristen Robinson and Kylie Bomgardner, as well as goalie Cheyenne Sprecher (3 saves).

"I give Palmyra much credit, they played very well," said Lower Dauphin coach Linda Kreiser. "They made some changes in their lineup to attack us, and the speed of this field, it's different. They are very used to playing here, and they played very well. I give them credit."

A comfort zone was elusive, though, thanks to the one-goal differential the entire second half.

"At 4:27 (left in the game), I was thinking, 'Oh my word, this is the longest half in America,'" Costello laughed. "1-0 is not how we wanted it, but, hey, we'll take it. It was a great win."

"As soon as we stepped out there, we felt like it was gonna be a great game," Herman said. "We were focused and we really wanted it."

Palmyra 1, Lower Dauphin 0

Lower Dauphin00—0

First half — P: Kiley Gallagher.

Second half — None

Assists — None

Shots on goal — Palmyra 13, Lower Dauphin 3

Corners — Palmyra 16, Lower Dauphin 3

Saves — LD: Madison Lilliock (12 saves), P: Cheyenne Sprecher (3 saves).

JV score — Lower Dauphin 3, Palmyra 0.

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