It was a decade in the making, but the Biglerville field hockey made its return to the YAIAA Tournament on Monday evening. And while their stay was brief, the Canners left New Oxford High School knowing they deserved their spot at the table.
Biglerville ran into a buzzsaw in top-seeded Central York, falling to the speedy Panthers by an 8-0 score. The loss didn’t put smiles on the faces of those donning the black-n-gold, but they left knowing they belonged in the tournament, and the biggest part of their season is yet to come.
“The one thing we really impressed upon them was that they earned their spot to be here,” said Biglerville co-head coach Sara Peterson. “There are other teams that didn’t (make it), but they did. We knew it was going to be a fight and knew what we were up against, but they have a lot to be proud of.”
Biglerville’s last appearance in the county tournament came in 2011 when just four teams qualified. The event has since been expanded to eight teams, but Biglerville (13-6) still didn’t receive an official invitation until last Friday after District 3 power ranking ratings were calculated.
“We wanted them to focus on knowing they had the right to be here,” said co-head coach Katie Weigle. “These girls have busted their humps the whole season. They’re such hard workers and they come ready to play. We can’t say enough about that.”
Central (14-4-1), the YAIAA-1 champion, held a clear advantage in overall speed as it unleashed a series of attacks in the early going. Grace Harrold, who would be a thorn in Biglerville’s side all evening, opened the scoring when she scored out of a scrum at 11:14 of the first period. The lead doubled moments later when the elusive Victoria Whitehead, who seemingly had gobs of glue on the end of her stick, slammed home a rebound.
Harrold was at it again early in the following quarter, going upstairs to give the Panthers a three-goal edge. She made it a hat trick before the half when she banged the boards for the third time in the game’s first 20 minutes of play.
The Canners attempted to counter with speedy Isabelle Allen looking for runs up the sideline and the tandem of Natalie Showaker and Dana Newberry seeking openings, but there were none to be found. Even when the Canners drove the ball into the Panther end the probes were cut off before attackers could connect with the ball.
Biglerville received a lift in the form of freshman goalie Gabbie Rogerson, who came on in relief of starter Sami Waybright early in the second quarter. Rogerson never blinked in the face of a Panther assault that piled up a whopping 32 shots on goal and 15 penalty corners.
While Central ballooned its lead to 6-0 in the third period, with Harrold adding her fourth tally of the game, Rogerson kicked aside a half-dozen point-blank shots that had goal written all over them. Several times she made a save, then stopped a follow-up shot at close quarters.
The freshman finished with 19 big stops.
“She did a fantastic job,” said Peterson. “She’s super scrappy back there, and there’s nothing more we could have asked her to do. She had some beautiful saves.”
The Canners also saw solid defensive work from senior captain Alyssa Smith and promising freshman Claire Roberts, who turned back the Panthers several times during forward pushes.
The development of newcomers and veterans alike pleased both Canner coaches.
“It’s nice to see them taking the things we’re teaching and applying it,” said Peterson. “We’re seeing a lot of that.”
Biglerville will make a return trip to the district playoffs after qualifying last season for the first time in nine years. The Canners are currently slotted at No. 11 in the 1A field, and are excited about extending their season.
“We’re focusing forward,” said Weigle. “That’s the nice thing about districts, it’s a whole new season.”
New Oxford and Littlestown were also eliminated on Monday, as the Colonials (9-7) dropped a 1-0 decision to Susquehannock and the Bolts (14-5) lost to Red Lion, 4-0.
Biglerville 0 0 0 0 – 0
Central York 2 2 2 2 – 8
Goals: CY-Grace Harrold 4, Victoria Whitehead 2, Anna Scott, Ryan Engleman. Assists: D-Harrold 2, Whitehead, Emilee Myers. Shots: B-0; CY-32; Corners: B-2; CY-15; Saves: B-Sami Waybright 3, Gabbie Rogerson 19; CY-Sydney Valdes 0