Northern Lebanon really packed in the defensive zone during Saturday night’s Lancaster-Lebanon League field hockey quarterfinal at Ephrata.
It seemed to be the right strategy for the Vikings.
However, when facing a player such as Mountaineers senior Mallory Kline, sometimes even a defensive shell doesn’t work completely.
Kline scored two goals and helped Ephrata to keep control of the ball for nearly the entire 60 minutes as the Mountaineers rolled to a 3-0 win.
“Mal is one of a kind, and she would never tell you she is one of a kind. You would never know it if you met her,” Ephrata coach Joy Rice said. “She has phenomenal stick skills and has really improved across the season. She is fun to watch.”
Ephrata improved to 15-4 and will face Penn Manor in Tuesday’s 7 p.m. semifinal at Donegal. The winner of that game will face the winner between Manheim Township and Donegal, who square off at 5 p.m.
The Mountaineers outshot the Vikings 17-2 for the game and posted a 13-3 edge in corners. Yet, scoring was at a premium early.
Still, even with Northern Lebanon focusing on defense, Kline’s sensational individual effort opened the scoring nearly nine minutes in.
Working in transition, Kline fielded the ball at the midfield, put on several moves in both directions, slipping defenders along the way before sliding a shot past Vikings goalkeeper Cala Martino.
“When the forwards are moving around it definitely opens up a lot of room for me to take a shot,” Kline said. “It’s fun to play with a group of girls that come out every practice ready to go. It’s helpful too. They really want it and it’s evident.”
The Mounts had eight first-half corners, but only led 1-0 at the break.
“You bring it in and you are like, ‘It looked fine.’ But it is 1-0 and what we always say in 1-0 games is they get tied,” Rice said. “It was worrisome, but yet it felt like we were in control.”
Rice added that facing a defensive style may help her squad.
“We are going to play teams like that. Penn Manor does that,” she said. “It’s good for us to have to figure out ways to work around those teams. Quick transition is the name of the game.”
Kline said it can get frustrating to not score. She credited Northern Lebanon (7-10) for keeping her team at bay.
“Especially when we are in the circle for pretty much the whole game. We just have to stick to it and do what we do at practice,” she said. “They were scrappy. It was definitely a different environment.”
Finally with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Anna Commero pounded home a ball from in close, for a 2-0 margin.
Kline capped the scoring by drilling home a penalty stroke with 8:33 to play.
Martino finished with 12 saves for the Vikings, who also got stops from defenders Autumn Bohr and Hope Ritchie.