Golden Elks pre­pared for post­sea­son chal­lenge

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By JOR­DAN SCHATZ

jschatz@ce­cil­whig.com

Just nine days af­ter it closed out its best reg­u­lar sea­son in more than a decade, the Elkton field hockey team is gear­ing up for its next chal­lenge: con­tin­u­ing its suc­cess in the play­offs.

The Golden Elks (11-1) rat­tled off 10 wins in a row to be­gin the sea­son, fin­ished un­de­feated in Susque­hanna Divi­sion com­pe­ti­tion and swept their Ce­cil County op­po­nents en route to a top seed in the 2A North Re­gion Sec­tion II play­offs. They will host Ris­ing Sun (2-9-1) on Thurs­day in the sec­tion semi­fi­nals as they aim for their first state tour­na­ment ap­pear­ance since 2005.

“It’s in­cred­i­ble. It all starts with prac­tice with us and when­ever we start to feel like we’re not play­ing as well as we were in the be­gin­ning, we kind of go back to the fun­da­men­tals and we go back to the orig­i­nal drills that we first started do­ing, and that seemed to have helped through­out the sea­son,” Elkton first-year coach Re­nee Dunn said. “The girls just give 100 per­cent in any­thing they do. They work so hard that it’s en­tirely all them.”

Elkton faced the Tigers ear­lier in the sea­son, top­ping its Ce­cil County ri­val 5-2 in non-con­fer­ence ac­tion on Sept. 13. Thurs­day will be bat­tle be­tween the two Susque­hanna Divi­sion cham­pi­ons of the past two years.

“We ex­pect them to be ex­tremely tough. We ex­pect them to not be an easy game what­so­ever and we’re pre­par­ing and work­ing on our fun­da­men­tals and hope­fully we can pull it out,” Dunn said of play­ing Ris­ing Sun. “We tell our girls ev­ery prac­tice that records don’t mean any­thing in play­offs. You can have an un­de­feated record and a team that hasn’t won any games can throw you off. Who­ever plays the bet­ter play­off game is the one who wins.”

One week af­ter their reg­u­larsea­son loss to Elkton, the Tigers opened play against the Ch­e­sa­peake Divi­sion. While they fin­ished with­out a win in the up­per divi­sion, their coach be­lieves the dif­fi­cult sched­ule has pre­pared them for the post­sea­son.

“I think that be­ing in the up­per divi­sion and play­ing big­ger schools and very tal­ented teams has def­i­nitely made us bet­ter. We’ve seen a lot of good things and we’ve had to el­e­vate our game,” Ris­ing Sun coach Katie Keyes said. “It’s al­ways fun to play Elkton be­cause they’re a healthy com­pe­ti­tion that’s been there since I’ve been in high school. I think the men­tal [side] of the game is go­ing to be key for us. Just com­ing in and know­ing we can play a good game. We haven’t won a lot of games but we fared well against a lot of the teams in the up­per divi­sion.”

The win­ner will ad­vance to face the win­ner of North Har­ford (6-6) and 14-time state cham­pion Fall­ston (9-3).

“It’s go­ing to be tough. The road to play­offs, it­self, is not an easy one and we are fully ex­pect­ing to have to fight hard ev­ery sin­gle game,” Dunn said. “It’s def­i­nitely go­ing to be chal­leng­ing but we can just work as hard as we can now, we’ll ad­just as need be and we’ll take it one game a time.”

Trio of county teams face fa­mil­iar path to 1A North Re­gion Fi­nal

For three lo­cal field hockey squads, the road through Sec­tion I of the 1A North Re­gion is a fa­mil­iar one.

Bo­hemia Manor will once again host the win­ner of Per­ryville and North East for the right to ad­vance to the re­gion fi­nal, one year af­ter the trio com­peted in the very same bracket.

For both the top-seeded Ea­gles and In­di­ans, there is un­fin­ished busi­ness to take care of af­ter the ri­val Pan­thers took down both teams last autumn.

“We’re def­i­nitely not ready for our sea­son to be over,” said Bo Manor coach Ash­ley Christy, whose team fell to Per­ryville 2-0, but topped North East 2-0. “Of the teams that are in our bracket … there is def­i­nitely a com­fort level. We know what play­ers to look out for, who scored on you the first time and the things that you did against them.”

If the re­match against Per­ryville does oc­cur, the Ea­gles (4-7-1) in­tend to be ready.

“That’s our goal. We played Per­ryville the very first game of the sea­son so get­ting to see them again, that would be good,” Christy said. “I would look for­ward to that.”

The Pan­thers would like noth­ing more than a third-straight trip to the re­gion fi­nal. Af­ter fall­ing to Fall­ston in 2014, they suf­fered a heart­break­ing 1-0 over­time loss to Pat­ter­son Mill last year.

“I don’t know if we’re com­par­ing the two sea­sons that much be­cause the teams are made up so dif­fer­ently,” first-year Per­ryville coach Erin Ham­son said of last year’s squad com­pared to this year’s. “The chem­istry of the team is dif­fer­ent, the make-up of the ros­ter is dif­fer­ent. Not even ev­ery girl has the same emo­tional con­nec­tion as it would be if we had the same girls on this team as we did last year. That be­ing said, they’re def­i­nitely ready and ex­cited to put their uni­forms and go run on that field on Thurs­day and make it hap­pen.”

Per­ryville (3-7-1) will host North East (2-10) on Thurs­day at Calvert Re­gional Park in a re­match from Sept. 15, when Per­ryville won 8-0. Both teams were present dur­ing the Ce­cil County In­vi­ta­tional at Uni­ver­sity of Delaware this month, although they played dif­fer­ent teams.

“When we were at [Delaware], they were the game right be­fore us and they played phe­nom­e­nally. They are not the same team that we played ear­lier in the sea­son,” Ham­son said of North East. “That be­ing said, we have also im­proved, so I would like to say that we can walk on the field very con­fi­dent. I will also say that we can not and will not un­der­es­ti­mate ei­ther of the teams within the county that we’re slated to play for the next two rounds.”

North East coach Kendie Hud­son also noted the im­prove­ment she’s seen in her team de­spite the lessthan-im­pres­sive record.

“With each game we re­ally grew as a team. We were los­ing 2-0 or 1-0 or 2-1 and games were re­ally close. We were just wait­ing for that touch or that last fin­ish with the goal. At this point, the team is where it needs to be. They’re putting it to­gether, they’re com­mu­ni­cat­ing on the field and I think go­ing into this play­off game we have a re­ally good chance,” Hud­son said. “If you look back at our last game when we played Per­ryville, we were a com­pletely dif­fer­ent team. I look for a much closer game with us com­ing out on top.”

Across the bracket, se­cond-seeded Pat­ter­son Mill (5-7) will host Jop­pa­towne (3-9) on Thurs­day, with the win­ner fac­ing the win­ner of host Har­ford Tech (6-6) and Havre de Grace (0-12). Fol­low Jor­dan Schatz on Twit­ter: @Jor­dan_Whig

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY KEVIN PHILLIPS

Per­ryville’s Do­minic Mus­cella drib­bles the ball dur­ing his team’s 2-0 win over vis­it­ing Tome in non-con­fer­ence boys’ soc­cer ac­tion on Mon­day.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Elkton will host Ris­ing Sun on Thurs­day in the 2A North Re­gion Sec­tion II semi­fi­nals. The Elks topped the Tigers 5-2 dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son.

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