By William Bowman
The Daily Item
LEWISBURG -- It was a play that, really, could have rattled them. Considering the situation -- opening round of the PIAA playoffs and all -- it could have been enough to end their season.
Instead of letting a disallowed goal bother them, Selinsgrove's field hockey team used it as fuel. That, and a big dose of goalie Courtney McCartney.
The Seals scored twice in the first half after an initial strike waved off. They then got a fluky goal to start the second half and held off a strong Upper Perkiomen push the rest of the way to advance to the state quarterfinals with a 3-2 victory at Bucknell University on Tuesday night.
"I'm very proud of them. They've been working very hard, and for them to be in the state quarterfinals is just awesome," said Selinsgrove coach Cathy Keiser.
The Seals (16-4-2) advance to Saturday's quarterfinal against Crestwood, which beat Selinsgrove, 1-0 at TurfFest in September. Upper Perkiomen, which lost in the first round for the fourth consecutive year, ends the seasons at 17-5-1.
Reserve Jenna Knepp scored a goal and assisted on MacKenna Mahan's deflection in the opening half to stake the Seals to the early lead. It was a big response for Selinsgrove after Becca Bausinger's reverse-stick goal was disallowed less than 10 minutes into the game.
Selinsgrove went ahead, finishing one of its rare penalty corners with 10 minutes left in the half. The ball was stuffed back into the circle after the insert and eventually Tesa Hoffman flicked it to Knepp in open space on the right. With the goalie out of position, Knepp was able to reverse it into the goal for the 1-0 lead.
"The ball came right to me and one was covering me and I saw the open far shot, just took a reverse swipe," Knepp said.
Moments later the Seals converted again, and again Knepp had a hand in the tally. Selinsgrove quickly transitioned from offense to defense after stifling an Indian corner. A long hit from Bausinger found Knepp, who redirected in front of the goal. Mahan was parked in front and deflected the ball into the upper right corner of the goal for a 2-0 lead.
"Becca gave me an awesome ball and MacKenna had an awesome tip -- it was good," said Knepp. "That was something we worked on this week, just redirecting the ball, not just swinging at it."
The Indians took control in the second half, dominating the pace, and wasted no time generating an attack. Less than a minute into the second half, Upper Perkiomen's Casey Umstead settled the ball at her feet, spun and rifled a backhand that McCartney smothered. Moments later, McCartney sprawled to her right to make a save.
It was theme of the second half, really.
"Courtney was awesome out there, played her best game of the year," said Keiser. "She was really calm in there, came out and cut down the angles. She was aggressive."
"I was just making sure my defense was marking everybody and they did a great job," said McCartney. "It was pretty good. We gave up a lot of corners, but I get psyched for them and we busted up more than half of their corners."
The Seals got what at the time seemed like the back-breaker when they hit a ball toward the circle that was deflected up in the air. The ball skied into the circle and over Indian goalie Katey Lederer. Emily Klingler was right behind her to scoop it in for a 3-0 lead.
A little more than a minute after Selinsgrove extended the lead, Upper Perkiomen started its comeback. The Seals got caught a little bit out of position and Umstead easily finished to make it 3-1 with more than 22 minutes to play. Ten minutes later the tension went up even more when Umstead took a corner insert from Devon Kriebel and slammed a shot inside the right post to make it 3-2.
"We are usually shooting, shooting and shooting, but in the second half (Upper Perkiomen) came out on fire," said Keiser. "They were very physical and we don't always do the greatest against those teams. They were just relentless."
Selinsgrove was able to weather the storm thanks to McCartney, who made a dozen saves.
"We are peaking at the right time," McCartney said. "Today was a good game for us."