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In a way, the 2012 season for the Oley Valley High School field hockey team began at the end of last season. The Lady Lynx finished the 2011 season with a league record of 4-4-2 and an overall record of 7-9-2.
For many teams, that’s not a bad season. But for the Oley Valley field hockey program, it was a very bad season. When it ended, the underclassmen were determined not to let it happen again. They wanted to get back to the top of the pack, where Oley field hockey belongs.
“Last year was a tough year for the team,” said Head Coach Tiffany Cappellano. “The feelings of disappointment were what fueled us to train harder in the off season in order to come back this season and regain the success that Oley Valley field hockey traditionally has had.”
Their determination paid off as the Lady Lynx breezed through the regular season with a perfect record of 8-0 to win the division title. They lost to Twin Valley in the Berks championship game, but recovered enough to win the District 3-AA championship.
“I could not be more proud of the players,” said Coach Cappellano. “They began working for this season at the end of the last and it really paid off for them. We started off the season knowing our numbers were the lowest in Oley field hockey history and we did not let that keep us down. We fought hard each game and competed daily at practices to get better. I’m just so proud of them.”
It was a tough start for the Lynx as they lost two of their first three non-league games, but then went on an 11-game winning streak before losing to Ephrata in a non-league game. In those 11 games they allowed just four goals, winning the way Oley Valley usually does - with great smothering defense.
Right from the start Coach Cappellano had no doubt that this would be a good team despite the low numbers. Once she saw the determination of her players, she knew they would not let last year happen again.
“The very first time we had the opportunity to play together, I realized that this season was going to be special,” said Cappellano. “Their willingness to make mistakes and correct them and work together on both sides of the ball was evident right from the start. Then after our first loss of the season, I was pleased at how quickly we bounced back and we did not get rattled, the players continued to work hard at practice and never gave up on their goals.”
After a perfect regular season, the Lynx shutout both Conrad Weiser and Wilson in the first two rounds of the Berks County League playoffs. But Twin Valley stopped the Lady Lynx cold in the league championship game, defeatimg Oley, 1-0.
But once again the Lynx didn’t let a setback deter them. Oley swept through the four District 3-AA games to win their seventh district crown. They outscored their opponents 7-1 in the tournament, including a 1-0 victory on penalty strokes over Greenwood in the championship game. Skylar Fretz and Elaine Ritschard were the penalty shot goal scorers to give Oley the championship.
“The District III Championship was a very memorable moment for the team,” said Coach Cappellano. “Not just because we won a championship, but because we really had to work hard to attain it. That game will forever be embedded in my mind. It was the first championship for the players and for myself. The first one is always special.”
Offensively, the Lynx were led by Erin Gillingham who had 13 goals and five assists which gave her 31 points, good enough for ninth in the league.
Gillingham was the only Oley player in the top 25 in scoring in 2012. That says something about the Oley defense, and the fact that personal goal scoring wasn’t the priority for these girls. The team always came first.
“The biggest reason for our success was the players’ desire to work as a team,” said Cappellano. “We knew we had to work together in order to attain our goals. The team stayed positive throughout the entire season and did a great job of working hard for each other and not just themselves. Their focus was on the bigger picture, the ‘we’ and not the ‘me’.”
Oley finished the season with an PIAA state opening round victory over Gwynedd Mercy Acacdemy, 2-0, then a season-ending 1-0 loss to Donegal. They finished the season with an overall record of 21-5, a district championship and atonement for a 2011 season that is now forgotten.