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Field hockey: Resilient West Chester East gives Crestwood a battle in PIAA quarterfinal

Emmaus – When West Chester East senior tri-captain Kelly Conlon scored off a deflection from teammate Nicole Fredericks early in the second half of the PIAA Class AA field hockey quarterfinal Saturday against perennial power Crestwood, cutting the Comets lead to 3-1, it seemed like the resilient Vikings were going to stage another comeback reminiscent of their state opener against Southern Lehigh four days earlier.

In that game, West Chester East had fallen behind 2-0 just 13 minutes into the game against the District 11 champions, but battled back for a 4-3 win, helped by two second-half goals by Conlon.

Saturday, once the Vikings cut Crestwood’s lead to 3-1, West Chester East made repeated drives deep into Comet territory, looking for two more scores to complete the comeback at Emmaus High School.

But another comeback wasn’t to be, and Crestwood (15-6-1), the second seed from District Two, prevailed for a 5-1 victory against the Vikings, who finished the season with a 14-10 record.

It completed an encouraging post-season for the Vikings under first-year coach Taylor Shronk. Last fall, West Chester East lost in the first round of Districts. This year, with 12 seniors on the roster, they went much further in the post-season.

“Our seniors did a great job of leading this team, on and off the field,” said Shronk. “They set the tone, and they will really be missed.”

On Saturday, the three senior tri-captains – Conlon, attacking center mid Lauren Fredericks (who is headed to American University next fall to play field hockey) and left mid Valerie Fay (who will be playing field hockey for University of New Hampshire) – particularly shone. The trio combined for all four of the Vikings’ in the 4-3 win against Southern Lehigh, and they came up strong again on Saturday.

“Val and Lauren did a great job stopping big balls today, throughout the game,” said Shronk.

Lauren Fredericks, who is headed to American University to play field hockey next fall, said, “Our seniors are a very close-knit group. A lot of us have played together since the second grade, when my mom [Jennifer Fredericks] coached us on the Fast Flicks field hockey team that played at General Wayne Elementary School.”

The Vikings entered the PIAA state tournament as the fourth seed from District One, and had to travel an hour for each of their two state tourney games.

Saturday’s contest was scoreless until the 19th minute, when Crestwood junior mid/back Katie Karpinski scored on an assist from junior midfielder Morghan Murphy. The score remained 1-0 until 2:37 before halftime, when Crestwood junior Arden Morgans scored off a rebound to make it 2-0 at halftime.

Less than one minute into the second half, Crestwood sophomore forward Janosczyk scored to make it 3-0. But West Chester East improved its ball movement and penetration into enemy territory in the second half.

“Our passing came together in the second half,” said Shronk. “Our midfielders did a good job pressuring up the ball, keeping it in the circle.”

Lauren Fredericks reflected on the Vikings’ never-say-die attitude in their two state tournament games.

“It goes to show that we’re willing to put 100 percent  in, regardless of the score,” said Fredericks. “If one person doesn’t carry her load, it weighs down the whole team – we play for each other. The key to this season was that we all love to be around each other ever since we began [pre-season practice] in mid-August, I consider it an honor and an opportunity I wouldn’t trade for the world.”

Saturday, the score remained 3-1 until 7:30 was left in the game, when Karpinski got the ball to Murphy to give the Comets a 4-1 lead. With only 42 seconds left, Crestwood senior forward/midfielder Jordan Olenginski tallied an unassisted goal to complete the scoring.

On the sidelines minutes after the game, Shronk said, “I am so proud of our team, and what they accomplished this season.”

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