Palmyra boys lax falls in Mid-Penn title game
Thursday's 11-8 loss to Cumberland Valley was the first of the season for Palmyra, which now turns its attention to the District 3 playoffs.
HARRISBURG —Undefeated Palmyra was not preoccupied with its record. The Cougars’ sole intent in taking the field Thursday night at Central Dauphin Middle School was to win a Mid-Penn Conference championship.
But the Cumberland Valley Eagles were intent on breaking the Cougars’ streak, and the result was an Eagles’ victory for the Mid-Penn title, 11-8, at the expense of a valiant Palmyra squad whose second-half comeback attempt came up a few bounces short.
After coming back from a 7-3 fourth-quarter deficit versus Hershey just this past Tuesday, the Cougars (18-1) found themselves in a similar situation against Cumberland Valley trailing 8-5 entering the fourth.
Both Cougars’ goalkeeper Anthony Bressi and Eagles’ keeper Alex Dudziak finished the night with ten saves, including two each to start the fourth.
But Palmyra’s Pete Robertson closed the Cougars to within 8-6 on a goal with 8:49 left to play — the Cougars’ fourth unanswered goal in a row — to send the Palmyra faithful into a frenzy.
“We knew the defense we were facing and we tried to make the adjustments based off what we saw in the first half,” Cougars’ head coach Dave Ondrusek said after the game on the second-half surge. “Defensively, we started playing a better game. We started playing our normal defense and that’s what helped us keep their scoring down.”
But Stevie Peters answered for Cumberland Valley (16-3) a minute later, part of a four-goal effort that also included the kill-shot to make the score 11-7 with 1:17 left to play.
“I have to give all the credit in the world to Cumberland Valley,” Ondrusek said. “They continued to put the pressure on and they didn’t get down. Even though we came back, we didn’t come back quick enough, that’s all. As you could see, there was no quit in our guys. We played to the very last second.”
Kyle Wasilewski’s laser into the upper right corner of the net had brought Palmyra to within 9-7. Ethan Gain put in the final tally of the game with 42 seconds left but that was as close as the Eagles would allow.
Cumberland Valley took a 4-1 lead in the first period thanks to a hat-trick from Devon Heckman. The Cougars, meanwhile, would get first-half goals from Grant Haus and Kyle Nolen, with the duo scoring again in the third period. Nolen’s third-period goal came from his knees on a quick pass from Gain to close to within 8-5 entering the fourth.
Despite the loss, it seems that new goals will keep on coming for the Cougars, owners of the top seed in the District 3 Double-A bracket. Palmyra will host No. 16 Spring Grove (8-9) at Lebanon Valley’s Arnold Field on Tuesday, May 16 at 7 p.m.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Ondrusek said. “We’re still trying to play them one at a time. Now we have our first loss under our belt — hopefully that’s a wake-up call to continue the trend we had earlier.
“It’s a great bunch of guys and they are very responsive and resilient to everything. I’m telling you right now, 18-0 was great, but every time we set the bar higher. We seek out the goals that we can keep putting in front of us.”
Cumberland Valley 11, Palmyra 8
CV goals—S. Peters 4, D. Heckman 3, C. Miller 2, G. Travis, N. Sather
PA goals—K. Nolen 2, P. Robertson 2, G. Haus 2, K. Wasilewski, E. Gain
CV assists—C. Ball 3, C. Miller 2
PA assists—E. Gain, A. Richard
SHOTS — CV 21, PA 18
SAVES — CV A. Dudziak 10, PA A. Bressi 10