Honesdale advances to championship game

Field Hockey Players

Article Courtesy of Kevin Edwards, Tri-County Independent

On Saturday afternoon before a big crowd at the Daniel J. O’Neill Sports Complex, Honesdale notched one of the biggestvwins in the history of its varsity field hockey program.

The Lady Hornets overcame a sluggish start to defeat Wilkes Barre Area 2-0 in the District Two semifinals.

With this victory, Coach Becca Maciejewski’s squad is now just one win away from capturing the Class AAA crown.

“This group has been a joy since Day One,” the veteran skipper said. “I’ve had high hopes for these girls and this is exactly the result I had envisioned for them.

“We’re peaking at the right time. This was a total team effort today and I couldn’t be any prouder of this team.”

Weather and pandemic permitting, Honesdale will play at Hazleton Wednesday evening in the gold medal match.

The top-ranked Cougars punched their ticket to the finals via a 6-0 shutout of Delaware Valley.

Slow Start

Honesdale struggled early on in Wyoming Valley Conference action this fall.

The Lady Hornets suffered several lopsided losses in league action, including a 9-0 shutout at the hands of Wyoming Area.

In addition, the local lasses came out on the short end of a 2-0 decision against Hazleton back on September 23.

However, the team began showing signs of life late in the regular season. Thanks to a cohesive mix of battle-tested veterans and talented youngsters, the Red & Black surged right into the middle of the title hunt.

“As the season wore on, we started to see the girls translating what we worked on in practice into game situations,” said Coach Maciejewski. “The more confidence they get, the less they need us to coach them. They’re mindset is so much stronger and they’re just ready to play.”

On Saturday, Wilkes Barre showed grit and determination in the first period. The Wolfpack held their hosts scoreless through the opening 15 minutes, but there were hints of what was to come.

Captains Grace Maxson, Sarah Meyer and Katy Corcoran ignited one attack after another, putting relentless pressure on the visitors’ cage.

Finally, with 3:21 remaining in the second period, Honesdale broke through.

Meyer did the honors, blasting a shot past Wolfpack goalie Avery McManus. Claire Campen earned the assist, helping the Lady Hornets to a lead they never relinquished.

Fast Finish

Honesdale coaches were quick to praise both Meyer and Campen for their stellar play

Sarah is a senior who’s meant a great deal to the program for the past four years.

“She’s hard-working, determined and a quiet leader,” said Coach Grace Ruckinger. “Sarah is here to play, no messing around. She means business. It's a lot of fun to watch her play and we're really happy she's on our side.”

Claire is this year’s freshman phenom. A hard-nosed, versatile player, Campen has endless energy and is always around the ball no matter what position she plays.

She’s also tough as nails.

Midway through the third period on Saturday, Campen was drilled in the thigh with a sizzling shot. Incredibly, she barely flinched, snagging possession of the ball and slashing her way right through a trio of incredulous defenders.

“Claire’s growth from the start of the season until now has been spectacular,” Coach Maciejewski said. “She’s an offensive player through and through. Plus, she just thrives in challenging situations.”

Honesdale continued its furious assault on the Wilkes Barre cage throughout a fast-paced third period. The Wolfpack defense was on the ropes and Coach Maciejewski knew it.

“Five minutes!” she exclaimed in the Lady Hornet huddle heading into the final stanza. “Keep it up for five more minutes and it’s gonna happen!”

She was right.

Honesdale ratcheted up the pressure even more, culminating in that all-important insurance goal. Jillian Hoey hammered it home off an assist by Krol.

Hoey is just a freshman, but she’s already contributing key plays at the varsity level.

“Jillian has worked very hard this year to earn playing time,” said Coach Ruckinger. “Jilly is very coachable with a positive attitude. Her future on this team is bright.”

Krol is a veteran player with a blue collar work ethic who sets an excellent example for her teammates.

“Leah isn’t one of our captains, but boy do we look to her for leadership on the field,” Coach Maciejewski said.

“She is such a catalyst in getting things going. The other girls love that energy and just want to play harder because of her.”

Over & Out

Honesdale’s dominance on this particular day is borne out by even just a cursory examination of the final stats.

The Lady Hornets powered their way to a 16-7 advantage in shots on goal. They also enjoyed an eye-popping 15-6 margin in corners.

Junior keeper Nicole Miszler anchored a rock-solid defense and eventually earned the shutout.

“Nicole is a huge part of this team,” Coach Maciejewski said. “She had such a great, dynamic spirit. Nicole never gives up on a play and she’s one of the big reasons we are where we are right now.”

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