Penalty-stroke goal gives Long Reach 1-0 win Nguyen's first-half score is enough to beat Atholton

Field hockey

October 29, 1997|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Long Reach, which didn't win a game last season, is one victory away from reaching the state tournament.

The Lightning got a penalty-stroke goal from senior An Nguyen 3: 18 into the game and made it stand up for a 1-0 victory over visiting Atholton yesterday in a Class 2A South region semifinal.

Long Reach (7-7-2) will travel to Mount Hebron, a 4-0 winner over Franklin, tomorrow to play the two-time county champions for the region championship.

The Vikings took a 1-0 victory three weeks ago at Long Reach.

"If we play as a team, we'll beat them," said Long Reach junior Kristen Lorch. "All 11 of us have to be on, and I think we will be."

In the first meeting, 14th-ranked Mount Hebron (12-1-1) scored early. "We gave up a goal in the first five minutes, then we matched them the entire game," said Long Reach coach Kelly Morano, who missed the first half of the Mount Hebron game because she was attending her brother's funeral in the Philadelphia area.

Morano said her team is "happy to go away" to Mount Hebron because it has a much better field. "Playing on solid, smooth ground will make it a much better game."

Long Reach has the worst field in the county. Atholton coach Carol Stevens did not blame her team's loss on the field, but said it was a factor.

"I think it's a disgrace," Stevens said. "This is not a playable field. The kids who have good skills can not use them. Long Reach would be a much better team if its field was better. It's ridiculous."

Atholton senior Cheryl Staab, who plays attack, said the "field didn't help our team. We're use to a smooth field and this is bumpy. That's why we couldn't stop the ball."

Long Reach was awarded the penalty stroke when Atholton goalie Shannon Sullivan stepped on the ball. Nguyen, taking the first penalty stroke in the school's history, put it in the right side of the cage.

"I wasn't nervous," said Nguyen, who leads the team with six goals this season. "I was just thinking where I wanted to put the shot."

Staab said the early goal "brought us down. It kind of set the tone for the game."

But Atholton, which was outplayed in the first half, played much better in the second half and had scoring opportunities.

"It was an even game," said Atholton senior captain Bri Brumsted, whose team played Long Reach to a scoreless tie during the regular season. "I don't think anybody dominated."

Morano was very pleased with her team's play against Atholton (6-5-3), and the progress it has made over the season.

"It's awesome," said Morano. "I'm so proud of them. They have worked so hard."

Long Reach allowed 39 goals last year and, behind the goaltending of Jay Lance, has cut that to 18 this season.

The Lightning scored only four goals last year -- Nguyen had two -- but has tallied 17 this year.

No. 14 Mount Hebron 4, Franklin 0: Second-half goals by Sue Lee, Katie Jeschke, Polly Purcell and Liz Eberhart carried the Vikings over visiting Franklin. Purcell had two assists and Emily Payne one.

Pub Date: 10/29/97

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