Lake-Lehman finished strong in field hockey, both in terms of its final minutes in the state quarterfinals Nov. 8 and when looking at the 2014 season as a whole.
The results of a season that included a division championship won in a playoff and a state tournament victory left coach Jean Lipski eagerly looking to the future in the same moments she was dealing with the disappointment of the season ending in a 3-1 Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AA quarterfinal loss to Villa Maria.
“It was a great season,” Lipski said. “The kids played so well and made it back here.”
Lake-Lehman used to make more regular appearances in PIAA play, including two state championships and one second-place finish. Although the program has remained strong and in contention in one of the nation’s strongest conferences for field hockey, it fell short of state playoffs for eight straight seasons while Wyoming Seminary and Crestwood continued to battle for state titles.
Lake-Lehman made it back for the first time since 2005 and made a strong showing with one state tournament win and a second half against Villa Maria where it did everything but put enough shots past goalie Erika Miller.
“Now, I feel as though they know they belong here,” Lipski said. “They played hard; this was a great opponent we had but, I’m already looking forward to next year.”
Lake-Lehman fell behind, 3-0, against Villa Maria, then mounted a furious comeback over the final 23 minutes, at one point firing off 16 shots and getting 10 penalty corners while the Hurricanes managed none of either.
Korri Wandel scored the only goal, off an Alysa Adams assist, but Lake-Lehman was eliminated despite finishing with leads of 19-13 in shots and 14-11 in penalty corners.
“If we had played the whole game like we did the last 20 minutes, it might have been different,” Lipski sad.
The finish left the coach passing out thanks to those who made the return to state play possible. She pointed how much she will miss the leadership of a senior class, a group of six that handled much of the defensive work and showed the younger players the dedication needed to succeed. She thanked the efforts of her assistants, Melissa Smigielski, Lynn Coury, Sandy Boyle and Adrienne Dieffenbacher.
A talented young group made looking ahead an option just as appealing as struggling with the frustration of not being able to complete a comeback.
Lake-Lehman started as many as four sophomores in the postseason and consistently started two freshmen while using three together late in the game that clinched the state berth. The only two juniors on the team, Kate Supey and Miranda Moosic, started.
Lipski had a bench she could use, as needed, and said other underclassmen were ready for their chance.
“We have a great bench,” Lipski said. “We have some kids that are standing on the sideline that in the last couple years would have been on the field.
“They just work so hard during the season and in the offseason, too. That’s what it takes any more to have a really great team and these kids are dedicated to that.”