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Hershey holds off Palmyra, 1-0

Former Palmyra star Bri (Davies) Price's Hershey team pulled a mini-upset of Palmyra via a 1-0 victory on Monday night.

CAMPBELLTOWN -  An integral part of the Palmyra field hockey team's 2005 state championship, Bri Price - Bri Davies back in her playing days - knows all about producing quality victories against top-flight opponents.

On Monday night,  the ex-Cougar star forward was the guiding force behind another such win, and from a strangely wonderful perspective.

Now the head coach for one of Palmyra's chief rivals, Hershey, Price picked up a gigantic win at her alma mater's expense, a tense 1-0 triumph in a key early Mid-Penn Keystone Division battle under the lights at In The Net.

Hershey's first win over Palmyra in a good half dozen years was the product of hustle, desire and Maddie Zimmer's early second half goal off a corner play that stood up as the game-winner, but only after the Trojan defense fought off  a furious flurry of Palmyra activity in the circle in the final three minutes.

The outcome left Hershey 2-1-1 overall and 1-0-1 in the Keystone, while Palmyra's first loss made it 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the division.

And left Price searching a bit for the right words to sum up the feeling of notching a key victory against the program she grew up in and with which she helped produce so many fond memories.

"It's a little weird," Price said of coaching against Palmyra. "It's a little weird. It's different, but it's exciting. It's good to come out on this field and get that win. It's huge. Coming off of last year, we didn't beat any of these big teams. I think it's huge for the girls, to be confident that we can be a top team in this area."

Speaking of top teams, Palmyra still figures to be one despite Monday's loss. Behind 14 penalty corner chances and five big saves from ace goalie Cheyenne Sprecher, the Cougars showed flashes of the form that has pushed them to deep postseason runs in recent years.

But on this night, for the first time in a while, Hershey more than measured to the challenge Palmyra provided.

"Honestly, I thought it was a well-fought, well-played game on both sides," Palmyra coach Kristi Costello said. "Hershey executed and we didn't. Sometimes things don't go your way, and this is an opportunity for us to refocus and learn from some things. I told my team, 'It's OK if it's not ending your season.' We still have a lot of positives to take from this game."

Some of those positives came in the first half in the form of some near-goals by Katelyn Mark off corners. One glanced off the side of the cage, and other was kicked away by Hershey goalie Kit Olmsted, who posted six saves en route to earning the shutout.

That led to a 0-0 tie at the half and for the first 7:19 of the second half, until Zimmer broke the stalemate via an assist from Natalie Sicher.

"We finished, which is something we've had issues with before," Price said. "It was good to finally put it in the back of the cage."

And Zimmer's score would stand up as the game-winner, but not without some drama. As noted, Palmyra lived in the circle in the closing minutes, and twice had goals waved off after another corner was whistled just before the ball found the back of the cage.

Finally, though, the Trojans secured victory after fighting off Palmyra's 14th and final corner as time expired.

"It happens, it happens in football, too. It happens in all sports," Costello said of the near-misses at the end. "Life doesn't always go your way, and we take the adversity and we learn from it. We don't make excuses. We had other opportunities to put the ball in the cage and didn't do it."

Hershey 1, Palmyra 0
Hershey 0 1 - 1
Palmyra 0 0 - 0
H - Maddie Zimmer
Assists: H - Natalie Sicher
Shots: Hershey 6, Palmyra 6
Saves: H - Kit Olmsted (6 saves), P- Cheyenne Sprecher (5 saves)
Corners: Palmyra 14, Hershey 8
JV score: Hershey 1, Palmyra 1