NEPA Sports Nation

Pizano, Rehill lead WA into semis

Pictured above: Bianca Pizano in action earlier in postseason.

By Tom Robinson,

LIME RIDGE – Bianca Pizano played a role in three goals and Lyla Rehill sparked a three-goal fourth-quarter Saturday as Wyoming Area earned its third state semifinal appearance in four years with a 4-1 victory over West Perry in a Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class A field hockey playoff at Central Columbia High School.

Pizano made sure Wyoming Area took advantage of its prime scoring opportunities. She opened the scoring with a goal on a penalty stroke in the second quarter, then assisted the first two goals in the fourth quarter with passes on penalty corners.

Rehill scored on a high degree of difficulty to give the Lady Warriors their first two-goal lead in 6 games and 24 days.

Wyoming Area (21-2) eventually gave up its first goal of four district and state playoff games in the final five minutes, but by then was comfortably on its way to Tuesday’s state semifinal matchup with District 3 runner-up Oley Valley (23-3-1) at Whitehall at 5 p.m. Oley Valley beat Wyoming Area in each of the Lady Warriors’ two previous state semifinal appearances.

“We started off a little bit slow, but the second half we really picked it up,” Pizano said. “We knew it couldn’t be another 1-0 game like our past games. We had to keep going.

“The one goal (allowed) was a little eye-opener, but it didn’t stop us.”

Pizano got the scoring started in a first half that saw limited chances for both teams. She put a penalty stroke into the top corner, making her 2-for-3 on strokes this season.

“No matter if the goalie knows where you’re going or not, if it’s a good shot, it’s going to go in,” Pizano said.

Leading, 1-0, Wyoming Area coach Bree Bednarski wanted to make sure her team remained aggressive. A third quarter where both teams had more chances was then followed by a fourth in which Wyoming Area took charge.

“The girls know when it’s a 1-0 game that there need to be more goals made,” Bednarski said. “We talked to them at halftime and I was just happy that they were able to push the energy a little bit and put three more goals in.”

Lyla Rehill

Rehill got it started on a unlikely finish that is so difficult that she said she has never even attempted a similar shot while practicing.

Pizano fired a sharp pass from the left top of the circle to Rehill alone at the right post.

Rehill’s attempt to stop the ball, popped it up and to the left.

From there, Rehill quickly, instinctively reversed her stick – field hockey players, by rule, are not allowed to strike the ball with the back side of the stick – and took a left-handed, baseball-style swing.

“I didn’t think I was going hit it at all,” she said. “I thought I was going to whiff, but I ended up making pretty solid contact.”

The result was a well struck ball that would have modern baseball pundits raving about launch angle and exit velocity as it sailed high into the cage for a 2-0 lead.

“I was just trying to keep the ball in play, so I wound up stopping in and whacking it into the cage,” she said.

“Amazing,” Bednarski said. “That was such a good finish. I’m very happy for her.

“That’s pretty cool scoring a reverse stick out of the air. You don’t see that a lot.”

Nina Angeli was next, scoring from a great distance. She hit a hard, low shot through traffic from the top of the scoring circle after receiving a Pizano pass.

West Perry broke the shutout on a similar shot off one of its penalty corners. That ended a streak of 271:22 in which the Wyoming Area defense had not allowed a goal.

Wyoming Area had the ball for almost all of the remaining time and added a Juliana Gonzales goal, off an Ella McKernan assist, with 20 seconds left.

“I think our passing connected more in the second half than it did in the first and they just trusted each other out there,” Bednarski said.

Wyoming Area led in shots, 10-3, and penalty corners, 11-7.

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