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Five-goal rally lifts Palmyra lax past Hershey

Down 7-3 after three quarters, the Cougars scored five unanswered goals in the fourth to beat Hershey 8-7 and complete an undefeated regular season.

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HERSHEY – If the Palmyra boys' lacrosse team was going to complete its perfect regular season, arch rival Hershey was going to make the Cougars earn it.

Trailing the Trojans 7-3 entering the fourth quarter, Palmyra scored five unanswered goals in the last period to win 8-7, completing a perfect 18-0 regular season and clinching the Mid-Penn Keystone Division title.

Next up for the Cougars will be the Mid-Penn championship game against Cumberland Valley at 7 p.m. Thursday at Central Dauphin Middle School. Palmyra beat Cumberland Valley in overtime earlier this year.

Even down four goals with less than 10 minutes to go, the Cougars' head coach did not think the game out of reach.

“Never with these guys,” Dave Ondrusek said. “They've been down before. They're resiliency is beyond any other team I've coached. They might get frustrated, but they never get flustered.”

On Tuesday night, the Cougars' rally started with one goal by Ethan Gain and back-to-back scores by Grant Haus within a 2:15 span. That pulled them within 7-6 with 7:02 to play.

Hershey goalie Jacob Fahnstock stopped three Palmyra shots over the next two minutes. Then the Trojans got possession, but Tate Wasson forced a turnover which led to Pete Robertson's game-tying goal with 3:48 left. Haus assisted on that score, his third helper of the game.

Haus had a good chance to put the Cougars ahead with 3:07 to go, but Fahnstock stopped that attempt. With 1:46 to go, though, Gain scored against to put Palmyra ahead for the first time in the game, 8-7. It was Gain's second goal, and was set up by Alec Richard's second assist.

Hershey (11-5) had no shots on net after Palmyra took the lead.

Hershey took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Warren Zeiders and Mark Sickler. Although down early, there were signs that Palmyra was not that far off target. The Cougars hit the crossbar twice in the first 12 minutes.

Nate Hawkins scored nine seconds after the faceoff to begin the second quarter, getting Palmyra on the board and making the second 2-1. But with 2:10 left in the half, Zeiders scored his second goal to put the Trojans up 3-1 at the break.

Zeiders added a third and fourth goal in the third period, along with tallies by Nate Wilson and Sickler, to help the home team build a 7-3 lead. Palmyra goals by Robertson and Richard helped keep the Cougars close enough to make the later comeback possible.

Palmyra had five players hit the back of the net, and that diversity in scoring was one of Ondrusek's keys to winning, both on Tuesday and throughout the season.

“They key has been how well these guys work together,” Ondrusek said. “No one is selfish. They support each other. There's no superstars.”

In addition to the upcoming Mid-Penn final, Palmyra will be in the District 3 Class 2A playoffs as the No. 1 seed.