The Sun

Hershey Wins Keystone DivisionFree Access

It was never out of the equation. The pedigree of the program is simply too strong.

But there were questions, if not doubts. So, self-proclaimed “underdogs” it would be, from the start of camp back in August.

It didn’t take Hershey field hockey long to shed that label and then some.

The Trojans wrapped their march to a Mid-Penn Keystone Division title Monday night with a 4-0 road shellacking of Mechanicsburg, the last remaining divisional contender with a direct chance to gunk up the race.

Hershey finished 7-2-1 in Keystone play, topping Palmyra’s 6-2-2. Mechanicsburg and Lower Dauphin tied for third place — both squads going 6-3-1.

“The thing about being in a league (the Keystone Division) that is so competitive is that every single team is challenging you, in one way or another,” second-year Hershey head coach Savanna Lenker said. “They’re challenging your strengths, they’re challenging you to adapt, they’re pointing out your weaknesses, all of those things.

“We knew from the beginning of season that we’d be in the mix. And that ‘underdog’ mentality played into things. A lot of our games early, we played with that idea in mind: ‘what have we got to lose. Everybody’s already counted us out anyway.’ These last few games, I said to the girls that we had that mentality at the beginning but we really can’t anymore, because we’re not an underdog. People are seeing us as a team to beat. It was that mental shift that we knew we could play at a high level, and that had to be the expectation going forward.”

Cara Cronin scored two goals and assisted on another, as Hershey roared out to a 3-0 first-half lead at John H. Frederick Field, dominating the hosts in doing so.

2022 Keystone Division Champs. Photo: Geno Simonetti.

The Wildcats desperately tried to get back into the contest with a flurry of corners during the third period, but the Trojans rebuffed all attempts and that was that. Cronin’s second marker of the night provided the final margin.

“We got hammered with (defensive) corners for a stretch,” Lenker said. “All the things you doing during the season, you’re fine-tuning them as you go. We’re churning to hit our stride with both our defensive and attack corners.” 

Lauren Schulz and Roma Orris also found the cage for Hershey. Freshman goalie Kylie Mullen made two saves.

“It was a really crazy game,” Lenker said, “and knowing Mechanicsburg, that entire 60 minutes, we had to put our heads down and grind it out. That game was not over in my mind until it was over.”

Hershey remains the No. 3 team in the District 3 2A power rankings, as teams wrap their regular slates with a flurry of largely non-league contests. Palmyra remains the top team, with Susquehannock still at No. 2, as of Oct. 11.

Regardless of how the dust settles for the upcoming postseason, so much has already been accomplished.

“This group is really something special,” Lenker said. “We when do our goal-setting, it’s not some far-off thing and we’re just saying it out loud. We know it is attainable. We know we can do it. We believe in every single player on the field and in each other. Maybe these things seemed like lofty goals at the beginning, here we are.

“One of the things that makes our team special, is that any one player can be elevating the game play on any given day. Overall, our team play has really come to life.”


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