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EHS field hockey advances

One reason for the success of the Emmaus field hockey team, and most successful teams, is that the players are competing not only for themselves, but for each other. They want to play their best for their team and their teammates.

That will be especially true for the rest of this season. This year’s Emmaus field hockey team will be playing the rest of the season for sophomore forward Hailey Cook.

Cook was one of head coach Sue Butz-Stavin’s first players off the bench this season. She won’t be able to take the field the rest of this year as she was diagnosed with leukemia last week.

The team has dedicated the season to Cook.

“We played for Hailey Cook,” Butz-Stavin said after her team’s 7-0 over Honesdale in Saturday’s state quarterfinal. “This game was dedicated to her. She was diagnosed with leukemia on Wednesday so we’re playing for her and we will throughout the season. The doctor showed her that come spring she could be back playing again. So we hope for the best for her.”

The team wore Cook’s number 32 on its jackets Saturday.

With Saturday’s win, the Hornets are two wins from honoring their teammate by winning a third consecutive state title.

Honesdale came out strong, like most teams do against Emmaus, looking to prove it could go toe-to-toe with the defending champs. A couple early corners didn’t lead to any shots on goal for the District 2 champs.

By the middle of the first quarter Emmaus had started to control possession. The Hornets scored their first goal with 3:34 left in the first period when Autumn Kernechel found the back of the net. Ava Zerfass followed with another goal less than two minutes later for a 2-0 lead after one quarter.

“It was a bit of an auspicious start with ball possession and a turnover,” said Butz-Stavin. “You don’t expect a turnover at that point but we worked our way out of it and started to get moving.

“Honesdale has got a couple speedsters on their team and that really challenged us. We had to really pick up ball speed and foot speed. Once we did that I thought we played pretty well.”

Emmaus kept rolling in the second quarter. Zerfass added a second goal just over a minute into the period and Melea Weber added another with 12:22 to go in the first half for a 4-0 lead.

“We definitely feed off that energy when we get our first goal,” said senior defender Autumn Held. “We get hyped and more energy and feed off that.”

Rachel Herbine, who had three assists in the win, scored the final goal of the first half with 6:48 left on the clock.

Honesdale (17-4 overall) earned two more corners late in the half, but the Hornet defense and goal keeper Emma Cari kept Honesdale from doing any damage.

“I think our defense worked well together tonight,” said Held, a junior who plays defense and is the insert passer on Emmaus’ corner plays.

Emmaus made it 6-0 on another Weber goal four minutes into the third quarter and Held capped the scoring with 4:04 left in the third quarter.

As a two-time defending champ with a reputation as a perennial contender for state titles, Emmaus sees every teams’ best effort throughout the regular season and especially in the postseason.

“It’s really exciting getting to these games being this far into the season,” said Kernechel, a sophomore midfielder. “We know every game is going to be more challenging and every team is going to play their best against us and we have to be ready for that.

“I feel like teams know who we are just because of our tradition. People know we’re going to come out hard so other teams come out just as hard as us.”

Emmaus (25-0 overall) advanced to Tuesday’s semifinals against Wilson West Lawn, the second place team out of District 3. That game was played after Press deadline.

A win Tuesday would put Emmaus in Saturday’s state title game against either District 3 champ Lower Dauphin or District 1 runner up Conestoga. The state title game is slated for 3 p.m. Saturday at Cumberland Valley High School in Mechanicsburg.

PRESS PHOTO BY MARK LINEBERGER Autumn Kernechel scored a goal and assisted on another in the Hornets' state quarterfinal win over Honesdale Saturday.