There's nothing like playing for a state championship.
While this experience is new to Crestwood's players, Comets coach Elvetta Gemski gets to enjoy the newness of the experience -- after all, each season brings a new team together -- coupled with great memories of past trips to the state's championship celebration. The list of players who built these memories is lengthy and their efforts appreciated.
Here's Coach Gemski's stroll down memory lane ...
It was the first time the PIAA used the present-day championship brackets. (U.S. Olympian and current Providence coach) Diane Madl was a freshman on the 1981 team that reached the state quarterfinals, losing to Reading-Holy Name, 3-0.
We used to go to a college-like final four at Shippensburg University. We'd go down on Thursday night, play Friday and then you were in the final game or the consolation game Saturday. That year, we beat Reading-Holy Name 3-2, then played Springfield-Montco. Back in '83, we split goalkeepers -- we had two goalies split time -- and it was all grass fields. We had five seniors that year, and we actually stayed at a hotel called the Alamo.
We returned to the final four as a Triple-A team (in 1984). We had the theme of Remember the Alamo and got back to the final weekend.
The team was there again in 1987, but had bigger accomplishments on the horizon.
I remember a lot of this, being on a football field at Gov. Mifflin H.S., we played under the lights. There was a steady rainfall throughout and we were doing a lot of slipping by the end. (Assistant coach) Patsy (Moratori) was a captain and center halfback. (U.S. Junior Team member) Kathy Phelan was another captain -- they provided very serious leadership.
Northwestern Lehigh used a very long, effective what's now called an aerial, but what we called a scoop then. That was something we really hadn't come up against. We were winning 2-0 and they scored in the last 11 seconds. My view of it, I remember we were watching the big football scoreboard. The clock was running down, and usually the clock's at the table. But we had that scoreboard with the big numbers running down. They were able to put one it. Now that was my view, not the players on the field.
Having won, one of the most exciting things is when you pick up the police escort and the fire trucks for the victory parade. And that year, they actually had dinner waiting for us, win or lose.
This is one of the stories I use as a motivating factor. We had nine new starters and a goalkeeper who had never played goalie but was a talented softball player; we lost through graduation a large group of talented seniors. We had just three seniors, but one happened to be (Olympic team member) Sara Silvetti. Believe was our motto. We met Southern Lehigh, the returning champs, at Messiah and they had a 58-game win streak. Southern Lehigh scored first and we fought back. They scored again, we fought back again. It was 2-2 in overtime and ... That group. They specifically enjoyed Country and Western dancing. They did it all the time -- pregame even -- and it worked for them.
With four overtimes, it had never happened before and it will never happen again -- they changed the rule the next year. It was four five-minute overtimes and we scored finally in the last two minutes. If we hadn't, we would have been co-champs. It was a game of heroic efforts by both teams. We thought we had scored earlier in overtime and everyone ran onto the field at Messiah. We had to bring everyone back to the sideline. The team had to rally itself from that and we finally won on a corner.
We went back-to-back and were undefeated. The final was actually all District 2 -- we played Sem and even the officials were all from District 2, and we were down at Wissahickon H.S. That team, even losing three seniors from '03, was great. (Assistant coach) Lissa (Munley) was a senior in '04. This group of seniors were very good and effective leaders. That was a big factor. They were a very focused group of seniors to follow from '03 like that.
We'll let you know.