Exeter unable to stop Oley Valley’s three-peat
SHILLINGTON >> Oley Valley head field hockey coach Tiffany Cappellano blushed at the question of whether her Lynx are a Berks League dynasty, but she didn’t deny it, either.
Oley Valley continued its run of Berks championships on Oct. 17 with a 3-2 win over Exeter in the field hockey league championship game, held at Mifflin Stadium. The win secured a third straight title for the Lynx.
Junior midfielder Sophia Gladieux scored twice for the Lynx, including the go-ahead goal early in the second half.
Cappellano – in her eighth season as head coach, a program alumna and a member of the 1997 state championship squad – deflected praise, instead lauding her head coach, Donna Long, for creating Oley Valley’s run of continued field hockey excellence.
“I’m a product of the program,” Cappellano said. “Donna Long created this. She instilled in me so many life lessons and so many good things in order for me to come in and continue to do what she was doing. I’m forever grateful for her for that.
“Knowing what it feels like (a state championship), I want this so much for this group of girls. They work so hard all year round. It’s not just a fall sport for these girls.”
Corralling yet another league championship trophy was not an easy get for Cappellano’s squad. The Eagles jumped in front just 3:37 into the game on Ariana Kline’s marker from in close. Exeter continued its opportunistic play for 15 minutes, leading on the stat sheet as well as the scoreboard.
It all changed with roughly 12 minutes to play in the first half, when Oley’s passing game finally began to click. That led to a flurry of corners, 10 in all. With a stellar sustained defensive display, the Eagles defended all 10, but the field increasingly felt tilted toward one end.
“It was the girls settling into the play, not giving up and really trying to follow the game plan and get into our passing game,” Cappellano said, “because we struggled with that. Earning those corners was something we were hoping to do. They were tough on corners because they’re so fast. You have to give (Exeter) a lot a credit. They were on point. We weren’t getting second and third shots off.”
After that sustained pressure, the breakthrough finally came with 42 seconds to play in the first half, when Bailee Christman equalized for Oley Valley from close range – off a rebound – and squared the affair at 1-all.
“That was huge,” Cappellano said. “The equalizer is always huge. You can’t give up, you can’t play not to lose. You have to play to win and that’s one thing mentally we’ve been working on. And tonight, mentally, I think we showed that we’re kind of there. We continued to work.”
Gladieux gave Oley Valley the lead with 26:49 to play, then potted what turned out to be a key insurance marker with 19:16 left, a goal that gave the Lynx a 3-1 edge.
“It was surreal, it all happened so fast,” Gladieux said of her second-half play. “Having all your teammates support you is the best feeling and knowing everybody is working just as hard as you are to get the ball in the back of the cage.”
Oley’s third goal proved crucial, when Exeter sliced the lead to 3-2 with 16:52 to go on a sharp one-timer off the stick of Peyton Halsey. Halsey was gifted a perfect feed into the circle from Taylor Henderson and slotted her strike past Lynx goalie Erinn Messner to the far side of the cage.
But that tally would prove to be Exeter’s final shot on target. BCIAA championship At Governor Mifflin Stadium Oley Valley 3, Exeter 2 First half E - Ariana Kline (Peyton Halsey), 26:23 OV - Bailee Christman (Sophia Mackrella), :42 Second half OV - Sophia Gladieux, 26:49 OV - Gladieux, 19:16 E - Halsey (Taylor Henderson), 16:52 Shots on goal OV8,E4 Corners OV13,E3 Saves OV (Erinn Messner) 2, E (Gabby Boyer) 5 Halftime score: 1-1
The Oley Valley field hockey team poses with the BCIAA championship trophy after winning the title over Exeter on Oct. 17.