Magnotta, Mytych, Wesneski lead Blue Kights.
WHITEHALL — Mia Magnotta was the youngest player in either starting lineup Tuesday night.
The eight seniors, five juniors and eight sophomores — some with high-profile college commitments and prior allstate accolades — outranked the Wyoming Seminary freshman goalkeeper.
Magnotta knew it, too, but it didn’t matter for the 60 most pressurepacked minutes of her young varsity career.
Aubrey Mytych and Alex Wesneski scored first-half goals that gave Magnotta and the Sem defense a lead it protected with all its might, beating Oley Valley, 2-0, in the PIAA Class A field hockey semifinals.
“It’s so exciting to be a freshman, but to have an amazing team to support me,” Magnotta said.
“To win with these girls is like the best feeling in my life. I know I’m little, but it’s probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt.”
The District 2 champion Blue Knights (20-0) return to Whitehall 10 a.m. Saturday, when they’ll play District 3 third-seed Greenwood for the state title.
While Sem has won six state championships under head coach Karen Klassner, Greenwood, a 3-1 winner Tuesday against Newport, is playing in its first state final.
“I told the kids on the bus (before the game), ‘You’re going to have to play the game of your life.’ They played the game of their life tonight,” Klassner said. “But now, we just said to them, ‘You gotta have one more.’”
Wyoming Seminary controlled much of the first half, taking a 1-0 lead at 21:24 when Julia Christian sent in a shot of at least 20 yards.
The ball found Mytych’s stick, which directed the ball into the back of the cage for a go-ahead score.
The Blue Knights upped their lead to 2-0 after forcing consecutive penalty corners at the end of the first half.
Finally, on their third try, Camryn Litjens sent the ball in and Wesneski raised her stick at point-blank range in front of the goal.
“I saw it up in the air. Might as well go for it,” Wesneski said. “I just hit it in and I’m glad I didn’t miss it.”
An Ohio State commit, Oley Valley senior goalkeeper Rachel Levan finished with five saves and kept Sem off the scoreboard in the second half.
Meanwhile, Oley Valley ramped up the offensive pressure in the second half, even playing to an 11-on-9 advantage for about two minutes.
“You could not let them back into the game and that’s what we were worried about,” Klassner said. “Our defense was exceptional at the end of the game. Everybody stepped up and that’s what you need to do at this level. When you’re playing in the state semifinal, it should be a game like this.”
The midfielders did an excellent job filling positions and not allowing some of Oley Valley’s dynamic scorers — like sophomore Sophia Gladieux, who scored 50 goals this year — to get open.
Senior defenders Litjens and Emily Sims and junior Kate Barilla played well directly in front of Magnotta, who knocked away both shots on goal she faced to secure the shutout.
“They were so communicative,” Magnotta said of her teammates. “They were telling me to watch this, watch that, and I was talking back to them. It’s so helpful. I have the best defensive line. They’re so amazing and so helpful and we connect very well.”
While Saturday’s state championship is familiar territory for Klassner, it’s brand new to her players.
Sem last competed in the PIAA playoffs in 2013, when the Blue Knights won it all in Class 2A.
“We spent so much energy on the sidelines that I need a moment to rest,” Klassner quipped. “I’m getting too old for this. But it doesn’t get old, I gotta tell ya. Our kids just played a really great game.”
FIRST HALF: Aubrey Mytych (Sem) from Julia Christian, 21:24; Alex Wesneski (Sem) from Camryn Litjens, 0:00. Shots-corners: Sem 7-8, OV 4-5. Saves: Sem (Mia Magnotta) 2, OV (Rachel Levan) 5.
Wyoming Seminary players, from left, Julia Christian, Hannah Maxwell and Alex Wesneski, walk off the field after defeating Oley Valley 2-0 in the PIAA Class A semifinals on Tuesday at Whitehall High School.
Wyoming Seminary’s Aubrey Mytych moves the ball past Oley Valley’s Sarah Beers during the PIAA Class A semifinal on Tuesday at Whitehall High School.
Wyoming Seminary’s Alex Wesneski, left, and Aubrey Mytych celebrate a goal during the PIAA Class A semifinal against Oley Valley on Tuesday at Whitehall.