It took just 28 seconds in the second half of Wednesday’s Section Three field hockey game for Michele Lutz to add to Northern Lebanon’s lead. By the time the final horn sounded, the Vikings has achieved a goal a little longer in the making.
Baylee Madilia and Rachel Dunmire each added two goals as Northern Lebanon powered past host Lancaster Mennonite 5-1 to clinch the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Three title — Northern Lebanon’s first section crown since the 1980s.
“It’s overwhelming right now. When we started the season, we didn’t know what to expect,” Northern Lebanon coach Ronda Sowers admitted. “We knew we had some great kids and we knew they’d come out and battle every game. All of the ingredients were there and they’ve done everything they needed to do. If any team is deserving of a section title, it’s these guys.”
Northern Lebanon (12-0-1, 15-0-1) controlled play for most of the first half, finding the back of the net four minutes into the game as Lindsay McFeaters found Madilia for the tally.
Lancaster Mennonite goalie Marissa High and defender Megan Shirk turned away a trio of corners to keep it within one, but Northern Lebanon broke through midway through the period.
McFeaters fired across from the right side of the circle to Dunmire by the post for the final push and what proved to be the game-winning goal.
Lancaster Mennonite (7-6, 7-8) earned its first corner in the first half, but McFeaters prevented a Blazers’ shot. Northern Lebanon continued to seal off the circle in the second half as goalie Emma Bomberger turned away two corners.
Unrelenting, the Blazers took over in the final six minutes, eventually breaking up the shutout with 5:23 to play. Drawing Bomberger out of the cage, Rebecca Lane slid the ball left to Maya Habacivich, who flipped it into the wide open corner.
But by that point, Northern Lebanon had already added three insurance goals. Autumn Bohr got things started, taking off down the right sideline and sending a cross to Lutz.
“I feel so accomplished and so happy to be a part of this team,” said Lutz. “I didn’t think that we’d make it here, but we did. We just kept pushing ourselves to work harder and didn’t stop.”
Fellow co-captains McFeaters and Delaney Leibensperger shared Lutz’s surprise.
“In the beginning of the season, we had no idea,” said McFeaters, “but the last couple of games, I think we kind of knew. We worked so hard during preseason — we gave it everything we had — and I think we earned it.”
McFeaters connected with Dunmire for another goal a minute after Lutz’s strike and Madilia capitalized on a scramble in front of the cage with 17 minutes to play for the final goal.
“It’s huge, especially for Northern Lebanon,” Leibensperger said of the section win. “We’ve been here for four years and just knowing that we made a mile marker, it’s just amazing.”