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Owen J. Roberts’ postseason run ends with overtime loss against Hershey

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FAIRVIEW VILLAGE >> Owen J. Roberts field hockey coach Amy Hoffman was in tears Tuesday night.

Following the Wildcats’ 2-1, overtime loss to Hershey in the first round of the PIAA state playoffs, Hoffman struggled to come up with the words to describe her team.

“They’re a great group,” Hoffman finally said after a long pause. “We’re going to miss our seniors because they have a lot of heart and work incredibly hard. This was the best team I could’ve asked for.”

Owen J. Roberts’ Raina Smolij, right, sends one toward goal while Hershey’s Madeleine Zimmer (8) tries to get a stick in to defend. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

Owen J. Roberts (22-3 overall) entered the state playoffs on a roll. The red-hot Wildcats were winners of 13-straight games and coming off respective Pioneer Athletic Conference and District 1-3A titles, but struggled to generate much offense in the first half against the stout Trojan defense.

However, things turned around quickly for Owen J. Roberts early in the second half. The Wildcats put a lot of pressure of Hershey goalkeeper Kit Olmstead, firing a pair of hard shots just wide of the cage before finally breaking through with the first goal of the night, courtesy of long shot from Jenna Kirby.

Owen J. Roberts’ Sophia Murray sends a pass during the first half of Tuesday’s state playoff game. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

“At the half, we just wanted to give our kids confidence,” Hoffman explained. “They’re a great team and we were playing a little timid in the first half. We just weren’t doing the things we need to do to win. We just wanted to remind them of what we have to capitalize on.”

The Wildcats’ lead disappeared with less than 10 minutes remaining in the second half when Ashley Arnold scored the equalizer for Hershey, with Alex Held getting credit for the assist. The score remained unchanged heading into overtime.

The Trojans continued their offensive blitz in the extra period, as Maddie Zimmer unleashed a rocket of a shot from the top of the arc into the back of the cage to send Hershey on to the next round of the playoffs. Awaiting Hershey in the next round of the playoffs will be Penn Manor. The two teams last played in the semifinal of the District 3 playoffs, with Penn Manor emerging victorious on their way to the district title.

Owen J. Roberts finished the game with a 16-5 advantage in shots on goal and had seven more corner opportunities than the Trojans.

“I think we just needed to take a deep breath and relax,” Hoffman said. “Maybe the speed of their defense intimidated them a little bit, but we just needed to relax and make good decisions and we didn’t.”

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