Win streak reaches 30 years
There are very few local sports programs that can even enter into a discussion about the most impressive local sports streaks of all-time when they’re compared to what is now a 30-year win streak for Emmaus field hockey in District 11 title games. Head coach Sue Butz-Stavin and her team picked up number 30 last Wednesday at Whitehall High School when they downed Easton 1-0.
“Every year, you guys in the media just keep adding extra numbers onto it, but we try to do what’s best for the team and prepare them to be successful on the field and that’s our whole priority,” said Butz-Stavin. “It’s not really the number. We set goals and we all have that golden bucket at the end of the rainbow that we want to get to, but every game is special and we try to make it a special event and it gets more difficult every year.”
While the score was close, Emmaus (24-0) dictated play for much of the contest with the Red Rovers getting just spurts of momentum that were quickly shut down by the Emmaus defense. By the end of the game, Emmaus had outshot Easton by a more than two-to-one margin, but held just a 12-11 edge in corners.
The difference in the game was a goal from Annika Herbine with 24:27 left in the first half that gave the Hornets all the scoring they would need. Herbine’s goal might not have been the most impressive of her career, but it worked to perfection against Easton goalie Dani Swallow.
“We came up with a new play,” Herbine said. “And it was far out in front of me and I had to shoot on the move and it went between the goalie’s legs. It caught her off guard.”
While Stroudsburg has generally been the team to provide the biggest challenge to Emmaus in the postseason, Easton has also become somewhat of a nemesis. After beating the Red Rovers 5-1 during the regular season, Emmaus has had two one-goal games against Easton in the playoffs, beating them 2-1 in the EPC playoffs and now 1-0 in districts.
Easton did appear to have tied the game early in the second half, but the shot came from outside the circle and was disallowed.
If there is any concern with the undefeated Hornets team it would have to be on the offensive end. During the regular season, the team averaged just under 10 goals per game. In eight postseason games, its averaged just over three goals per game. Improved competition points to some of that. Of the teams they’ve faced in the postseason – Parkland, Liberty, Stroudsburg and Easton - Emmaus averaged just over five goals per game. In the postseason against those same teams, the Hornets averaged just over three goals per game.
“We had to make adjustments with our personnel tonight for what we were playing tonight, so we didn’t have our typical three-man front up there,” said Butz-Stavin. “You have to strategize and be able to look at who your opponents are and then you have to use your personnel to your best to be successful.”
Of course, the only teams to score against Emmaus this season are the four that they’ve faced in the playoffs. With a defense like that, the team can well afford to see a few less goals per game and still be successful, even if having a little more breathing room would be a nice thing.
“It was nice to have that quick start, but it would have been nice to have that insurance goal,” said Butz-Stavin with a smile. “Every time that Easton took a penalty corner, the threat was there, but our corner defense held strong and that’s what it’s all about, just grind away and find a way to win.”
The win puts Emmaus into a game against Downingtown West (17-5) to open play in the PIAA Tournament. The Hornets will be looking for their 13th state championship as they start play.