LEWISBURG — It’s a rare day when Crestwood doesn’t score a goal.
So when the Comets went into halftime of their PIAA Class 2A field hockey playoff game against Bloomsburg scoreless, they knew they had to make something happen. And fast.
With the Panthers starting the second half with the ball, Crestwood engineered a quick steal, charged down the field and scored just 23 seconds in to propel the Comets to a 3-0 victory Thursday at Graham Field on the campus of Bucknell University.
“Every game is different,” Crestwood coach Elvetta Gemski said. “I’m constantly reinforcing that we need to figure it out, solve the problems. We made it work. It definitely took us a little time, but we made it work.”
Crestwood (20-3) advances to play 4 p.m. Saturday against either Moravian (17-4) or Southern Lehigh (21-0-1) in Whitehall. Bloomsburg, the District 4 runner-up and winner of four consecutive Heartland Conference Division 2 championships, ends its season 16-4-1.
“Crestwood is no secret, but I didn’t elaborate on their accomplishments with my team before the game,” said Bloomsburg coach Chuck Baker, who coached in the WVC at Northwest before joining the Panthers. “We changed what we do to apply more defensive pressure.”
Seniors Kelsey Jones and Anna Dessoye worked their magic, weaving their way through the Bloomsburg defense after the turnover in the opening seconds of the second half. Passing back and forth, Dessoye struck with a hard shot low to the short side, beating keeper Michelle Smith to give Crestwood the lead.
“In the first half, we were a little off. We were not at all working as one,” Jones said. “We started off the second half as a team. Anna and I just worked the ball down field and connected with each other.”
From there, the Comets played more like the team that had been on the field during the regular season, when they scored at least three goals 13 times.
“Yeah, it was a big relief,” Jones said, of finally breaking through for a goal. “We had more confidence after that, and we kept the pressure up.”
The Crestwood defense starred throughout as Bloomsburg managed to cross the 25-yard line with the ball just five times – including twice in the first half. Backs Casey Cole, Rachael Ritz, Alexa Moran and Megan McCole all were regularly aggressively cutting off passing lanes and joining the attack.
“We just had this talk,” Baker said. “Teams that don’t have turf are at a disadvantage because their skills aren’t as sharp once they get here” to the playoffs, where all the games are on turf.
Anyone in need of a flashback to Sunday’s dramatic shootout victory over Holy Redeemer got one when Dessoye scored low to the stick side on a penalty stroke in the 47th minute.
Less than four minutes later, Jess Newak launched a blast from the top of the circle on a penalty corner to the long side for a 3-0 lead. Dessoye’s assist gave her five points.
The Comets dominated play with 11 penalty corners and 23 shots – 15 of which came in the second half.
Bloomsburg’s Smith kept the game from getting out of hand.
“Bloomsburg’s defense gave us a real hard time,” Gemski said. “Their goalie did a great job. She really stymied us.”
Second half: 1. CRE, Anna Dessoye (Kelsey Jones), 29:37; 2. CRE, Dessoye (penalty stroke), 13:11; 3. CRE, Jess Newak (Dessoye), 9:35.
Shots: CRE 23, BLM 1. Saves: CRE 0 (Danielle DeSpirito), BLM 16 (Michelle Smith). Corners: CRE 11, BLM 1.