Whitehall-Coplay Press

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Press photo by Bob Brandmeir Taylor George and the WHS girls have won eight-straight games. Press photo by Bob Brandmeir Taylor George and the WHS girls have won eight-straight games.

Girls on eight-game win streak

Thursday, October 10, 2013 by STEVE ANDRES Special to the Press in Sports

In conjunction with the heat wave that settled into the Lehigh Valley last week, the Zephyr field hockey team is also certifiably hot.

Winners of their last eight consecutive games, the Zephyrs keep building on the momentum that was initiated after their loss to Emmaus High School. They have won the close games, as well as those by comfortable margins, to extend their record to 11-5.

After losing 2-1 to Northampton Area High School in their initial meeting to begin Lehigh Valley Conference action, the Zephs had a chance for a little revenge on Saturday.

With a grass field looming, the Zephs had to mentally prepare to take on the Kids who have always been a big nemesis for them within the North Division. Interim head coach Jen Callahan said the team understood the challenges that grass presented and made the necessary changes.

"I think the thing we did, we adjusted really well to playing on grass," said Callahan. "We did a good job of transitioning from turf."

She also said they prepared tactically for what the Kids wanted to do. They took away the long ball they like to hit which limited Kids ability to mount any offensive rushes.

"Northampton's plan was just trying to hit a big ball," said Callahan.

However, since the Zephs countered that strategy, the Kids only had a few scoring opportunities the entire game.

"They weren't able to generate any offense," she said.

Conversely, the Zephs managed to get some big balls of the their own, connecting with long passes from the midfielders to the forwards. This set up a number of scoring opportunities.

Kourtney Cunningham scored two goals and had two assists for the Zephs. Tianna Rivers also had a productive offensive day, scoring two goals. Additionally, Erin Everett found the back of the cage, while Sarah Schannauer assisted on two of the goals in the win.

Kourtney Cunningham's versatility is something that's helped fuel their winning streak.

"Kourtney has done a really good job for us of putting the ball in the net, but she's also finding her teammates," said Callahan.

Callahan said that a number of players have been contributing on offense, with at least five to six players showing up in the box score the last five games. That type of diversity is another reason why they've been stringing together wins.

"That's impressive," said Callahan. "That says it's been a team effort every time we play."

The Zephs have also been solid on defense with Erin Everett, Sarah Schannauer, Rachel Schannauer and Kayla Nailor combining to make it tough on opponents to penetrate.

Callahan said that varsity newcomer Rachel Schannauer is playing like a seasoned vet, stopping plays and clearing the ball.

"She does a phenomenal job back there," Callahan said.

The Zephs not only battled the Kids, but the oppressive heat as well. Callahan said that they bolted out to a 4-0 lead, but surrendered a goal in the first half to cut their lead to three. With the Liberty High School game still fresh in their minds, where they let the 'Canes climb back in the game after being up 4-0 with two second half goals, Callahan said they were determined not to let that happen again.

"They reminded each other that they can't let up," said Callahan. "They remembered what happened with Liberty."

They knock off Liberty 4-2, with the Zephs scoring all their goals in the first 10 minutes, said Callahan. She said Liberty may have come out a little flat after their big win against Northampton, but it was the Zephs who ran out of steam in the second half as the 'Canes cut the lead in half.

Still, they managed to win the game on the power of those four early goals. Scoring for the Zephs were Kourtney Cunningham, Kylee Cunningham, Taylor George and Sarah Schannauer. Assisting on the goals were Kylee Cunningham, George and Sarah Schannauer.

Callahan said that it served as a wake-up call that they cam never let up, using that as a rally cry in the game against the Kids.

The winning streak has sharpened their focus, with the team concentrating on each game at hand, said Callahan. She also said that it's a great confidence builder and will help them mentally prepare for the remaining games on their schedule.