Conestoga Valley vs Hempfield-LL Field Hockey

Conestoga Valley's Elli Livingston (9) works the ball around Hempfield's Keira Boensch (8) during second half action of an L-L section 1 field hockey game at Conestoga Valley High School Wednesday September 11, 2019.

While the clouds drifted in front of the sun and the heat in Witmer finally began to break at halftime of Wednesday’s field hockey game, Conestoga Valley was just gearing up.

The Buckskins broke up a tie game with three goals, including two from Claire Ortiz, while the defense held visiting Hempfield without a shot in the second half to secure a 4-1 Lancaster-Lebanon League victory.

The win not only keeps CV undefeated in Section One, but gives the squad its fifth win — a mark the Buckskins didn’t reach until the end of last season.

“It feels great,” CV coach Kelly Dearolf said of the fast start. “We knew that we had a very young team, but they’re experienced because they played last year. We were forced to play a lot of freshmen on varsity (last year), and now they’re back and just have that experience and we’re building on that.”

Hempfield took aim first, earning a corner two minutes into the game. The shot went wide, however, and and the Black Knights struggled to get another opportunity as CV (3-0, 5-1) went on the offensive.

Carli Eberly saw her shot on a corner kicked away by Hempfield goalie Alexa Pitts before the defense broke up another corner and then halted a fast break inside the circle.

CV maintained possession and pressure, with Eberly working the ball into the circle and pushing it left to Ellie Livingston for the opening goal with 17:57 left in the half.

The lead only lasted two minutes as Hempfield (0-4, 1-6) capitalized on its third corner. Taking the insert at the top of the circle, Kelsea Dague passed to her left where Keira Boensch swept the Black Knights’ lone shot in for the equalizer.

CV went right back on the attack, but couldn’t get past Pitts and Hempfield’s defense.

Pitts stopped two quick shots on before arguably her biggest save of the game with 8:20 left in the half. Livingston threaded a pass through a pair of defenders to a charging Olivia Hess, setting up a one-on-one with the keeper.

Pitts dropped to her knees, sliding to make the stop. The senior, who finished the game with 18 saves, would turn away three more corners before halftime.

“Our defensive unit is incredible; they’re a well-oiled machine,” Hempfield coach Tesla Miller said. “They stick to the game plan and they execute. There’s not a lot of offensive teams that an score against them.”

Hempfield continued to showcase that strength in the second half, stopping six corners and 10 shots. Dague came flying out of the cage to meet the insert at the top of the circle on one attempt and made a defensive save on another.

But CV would not relent.

A loose ball bounced out to the left post, where Ortiz slipped it into the corner of the cage five minutes into the half. The senior swished her next tally into the back of the net before Eberly added a strike on a final corner.

With just 37 seconds on the clock, Eberly took the insert and fired a rocket into the backboard.

“Spreading out made a world of difference,” Dearolf said with a laugh of CV’s halftime adjustments. “You can’t score on a great goalkeeper if you’re shooting right into her pads, so we started actually shooting the ball harder off her pads and I think that was the difference maker.”