After the third shot on a penalty corner early in the second half Wednesday, McKenzie Raech could’ve let up. She didn’t, and it made all the difference.
Raech hammered home a rebound on the fourth chance of a tenacious sequence in front of the cage two minutes into the second half, the game-winning goal as No. 9 seed Strath Haven bested Central League rival Harriton, 3-1, in the opening round of the District 1 Class 2A field hockey playoffs.
Raech scored with 28:17 to play, breaking a 1-1 tie at halftime with the eighth-seeded Rams. Harriton goalie Maddie Dougherty (15 saves) had kicked aside three chances off a penalty corner, but Sophia Green did enough to nudge the ball into the path of Reach, who willed it over the line.
Katie Capalbo had given the Panthers a lead in the first half off an Ashley Hassell feed, but Sarah Macks of Harriton pegged that goal back within four minutes to send the teams into half on level terms.
Olivia Fender tacked on a cushion tally with 5:39 to play to book Haven’s passage to the quarterfinals. Kay Walker made 16 saves in net for Haven on a night where both goalies were kept busy.
Strath Haven advances to take on top-seeded Villa Maria, which handled No. 16 Springfield by an 8-0 margin Wednesday.
No. 12 seed Radnor was also eliminated, a 3-0 decision at the hands of fifth-seeded Merion Mercy.