Emmaus High School field hockey coach Sue Butz-Stavin wasn’t thrilled with what she saw during halftime on Tuesday night.
The top-seeded Green Hornets held a 2-0 advantage over fourth-seeded Parkland in the District 11 Class 3A semifinals but weren’t exuding their usual positivity.
“You guys have got to find your spark, because we’ve got another half to play. And we’re going to go out on this field like it’s 0-0,” Butz-Stavin told her team. “… I was a little concerned, just looking at their posture and their facial expressions.”
Emmaus snapped out of it and bombarded Parkland with four goals in the opening 7 minutes of the third quarter en route to an 8-0 victory at Whitehall’s Zephyr Sports Complex.
The Green Hornets (22-0), winners of 66 games in a row, advance to meet second-seeded Easton, a 2-1 winner over Nazareth, in the district final 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Whitehall. The program is in pursuit of its 34th consecutive district championship.
“We really had to pick it up. I think our energy was a little bit low, for some reason. I don’t really know why. But, our heads were hanging low,” said Rachel Herbine, a senior and University of Iowa recruit. “We got a good momentum talk at halftime and it brought our energy up, and we fixed it in the second half.”
Herbine scored Emmaus’ opening goal in the first quarter, and junior Melea Weber made it 2-0 midway through the second period.
Senior Abby Burnett, who shook off a hard spill in the first half, started the Hornets’ second-half surge by marauding through the middle of the Parkland defense for a score. Weber added another 61 seconds later.
Herbine and Weber, a North Carolina commit, each hit the goal cage one more time to push Emmaus’ lead to 6-0 with 8:45 remaining in the third quarter.
Burnett, who is headed to Michigan, and Autum Kernechel tacked on fourth-quarter scores.
The victory marked Emmaus’ third win over Parkland this fall. The Hornets beat the Trojans 3-0 in the regular season and 7-1 in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference semifinals.
But those previous results didn’t mean anything on Tuesday night.
“Tonight’s game was the most important game of our season so far, because if the outcome was different, our season was over, and we wouldn’t be able to contend in the state tournament,” Butz-Stavin said. “That being said, we talked about how it doesn’t matter that we beat them 3-0 or 7-1 … That’s why you play the game. You have to go out there and you have to show what you’re capable of doing.
“… I do think we have some really strong leadership out there on that field. The seniors have shown the younger kids the way.”
According to Herbine, the Hornets stay in the moment by celebrating the little things during each game: creating a strong offensive attack, forcing a penalty corner, etc. They hope focusing on the minuscule will help them achieve the major.
“Obviously, we all want to be in the state championship, but I think we need to take it one game at a time,” she said. “The next game is the district championship, and we’re going for 34 in a row. It’s a really good streak. We need to keep it up and keep the momentum going.”
Emmaus, the winner of back-to-back PIAA titles and 14 overall, defeated Easton 4-1 on Sept. 19. The Red Rovers (19-2) have provided the biggest challenges to the Hornets’ D-11 dominance in recent years, losing narrow 2-1 (OT) and 1-0 results in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
Herbine, who scored as a freshman in the two teams’ last meeting in the district final in 2019 (a 4-1 Emmaus win), has plenty of experience when it comes to the pressure of maintaining her program’s historic streak.
“It’s always a big thing every year,” she said. “… But, each time we go into the district championship, we always say that we need to play our game and play how we play. We can’t let that affect our game.”
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Kyle Craig may be reached at email@example.com.