The Southern Berks News



- By Brian Rippey brippey@readingeag­

WHITEHALL » If you looked closely enough you might see the scrapes and bruises Natali Foster received during a rough field hockey game.

But what was obvious at first glance was the gold medal hanging from Foster’s neck and the ear-to-ear smile on her face after she led Twin Valley to its second field hockey state championsh­ip Saturday afternoon at Whitehall High School.

Foster scored two goals in the third quarter to rally Twin Valley to a 3-2 win over Gwynedd Mercy in the PIAA Class 2A championsh­ip game, lifting the Raiders to their first state title since 2015.

“We came into this game and our No. 1 goal was to leave no regrets on the field,” Foster said. “This is the last game for the seniors at Twin Valley and we wanted to leave Twin Valley making history, and we did.”

Foster’s final goal at Twin Valley, her 64th of the season and 140th of her career, broke a 2-2 tie with 3:16 left in the third quarter.

Just over three minutes earlier Foster had tied the game with the dangerous reverse shot that helped her become Berks County’s second all-time leading scorer.

For the last goal, Foster took an insert pass from Hadley Munn off a penalty corner, went to the right around the defense and fired a shot past goalie Lilly Sweeney.

“My left side is my go-to side and I figured they have watched film on us,” Foster said. “I wanted to go left but I went right, I shot it and it went in. It was such an amazing experience.”

Twin Valley (27-2) held off District 1 champion Gwynedd Mercy (20-3-1) the rest of the way to complete a rare sweep of Berks, District 3 and PIAA titles in one season.

“This was a fun one,” said Twin Valley coach Kim Walsh, who guided Twin Valley to its other state title in her first year as head coach. “I love this group. These are the girls I watched since they were little. This was one of those heartwarmi­ng moments.”

It wasn’t easy. Gwynedd Mercy, looking to win its first

state title, started strong and took a 1-0 lead just seven minutes into the game on a goal by Alaina McVeigh.

After Twin Valley tied it four minutes later on a goal by Munn assisted by Foster, McVeigh struck again on an untimed corner at the end of the second quarter to give the Monarchs a 2-1 halftime lead.

Sophomore goalie Maddie Stevens and the Twin Valley defense blanked Gwynedd Mercy in the second half.

“We just didn’t let it get us down,” Stevens said. “We’ve had games where we were down and we had to come back. This has been my dream since I was in youth and they won in 2015. I’ve always wanted to win this game.”

So it was up to Foster and the Twin Valley offense to mount a comeback in the second half.

“We knew it was going to be a fight,” Walsh said. “We said we just have to score more goals than they do. We didn’t think we were going to come in and have a shutout.”

Foster, only the second player in Pennsylvan­ia history and 11th high school player in the United States with more than 100 goals and 100 assists, drew plenty of attention. But each time she got knocked down she turned her frustratio­n into determinat­ion.

“We weren’t getting some of the calls we wanted but there was nothing we could do about that,” Foster said. “It was getting a little rough out there.

I got a scrape on my leg and a little bruise, but hey, battle wounds.”

Foster tied it off an assist from senior Emma Winther with 6:31 left in the third quarter. Winther was on the sideline after drawing a card for rough play when Foster scored a short-handed goal that proved to be the game-winner.

Winther returned shortly after the goal and helped Twin Valley preserve the lead and capture the championsh­ip trophy.

“That just shows what kind of team we are,” Winther said. “We were down twice and eventually won the game. I think that really shows how competitiv­e we are and it also shows how much we work together.”

 ?? COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK ?? Twin Valley players celebrate after they beat Gwynedd Mercy to win the PIAA Class 2A championsh­ip.
COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK Twin Valley players celebrate after they beat Gwynedd Mercy to win the PIAA Class 2A championsh­ip.

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