MUNCY — Rylee Dyroff bolted down the center of the field with a Muncy defender on each hip and the last half-minute of the half ticking away.
The Lewisburg senior had no space nor the time to do anything but accelerate into the circle, and unleash the hardest shot she could muster.
That, it turned out, was ideal.
"I was just trying to get as much room as I could to shoot it," Dyroff said. "I knew it was getting close to half, but I wanted to create an opportunity for my teammates. I wanted to get it on the far post so someone could tip it in, and I just got the goal in."
Dyroff's goal with 15 seconds left in the first half was matched by teammate Maddie Redding late in the third quarter, and the Green Dragons won a battle of the top teams in the District 4 Class A field hockey power rankings, 2-0, on Monday.
Muncy (11-2) had won six consecutive games following its only other loss (2-0 to Central Columbia on Sept. 24), and sat in the driver's seat for the No. 1 district seed well ahead of Lewisburg (6-4-1). The Indians may not budge from the top, either, given the fact they've beaten the remaining five teams on their schedule — three of which compete in the Heartland Athletic Conference.
Needless to say Muncy presented a vastly improved team from the teams' last meeting, a 9-0 Green Dragons' quarterfinal win en route to the 2019 district championship.
"We knew we were going to have to play," said Lewisburg coach Daneen Zaleski. "It took us awhile to get used to the field, and once we did that then we just tried to play our game.
"The girls knew they needed to score a few in order to win the game, but I knew this was not going to be a high-scoring game."
The Green Dragons ratcheted up the pressure midway through the first quarter, earning half of their eight total penalty corners in the last 7:30 of the period. Only the last in the series was executed well enough to produce a shot, with Siena Brazier passing left off the insert to Dyroff for a blast that was stopped by Indians goalie Brandi Hitesman.
Muncy's transition was strong enough to keep the ball moving up and down the field, testing Lewisburg's Emma Terry, Natalie Hall, Livia Holthus and Carley Wagner in front of goalie Keeley Baker. Still, the Indians didn't trigger a first-half shot, and they trailed 1-0 at the break thanks to Dyroff's team-best 10th goal of the season and 56th of her career.
"They're a very good team team now, obviously," said Dyroff, who started in Lewisburg's 9-0 district wins over Muncy in 2018 and 2019. "They're just good with their stick skills; they're strong on the ball; and they know how to get the ball down the field and score.
"We definitely came in with a good game plan. We knew it was going to be a tough game. We just came in like it was another big game."
The Indians routinely funneled their attack through senior mid Hallie McClure, who has already achieved career-high totals in goals (19) and points (42) as a four-year starter who has never posted fewer than 12 and 25, respectively, in a season.
Seeking her 60th career goal, McClure slipped past Brazier into the top-right side of the circle for a shot just two minutes into the second half. The ball tipped off teammate Madeleine Boerckel's stick at the goal mouth, and deflected high off the crossbar.
Redding's sixth goal of the season, on a ball worked right to left across the field and into the circle to the post, made it 2-0 with 1:20 to play in the third quarter.
The Indians triggered a pair of fourth-quarter corners five minutes apart that Lewisburg shut down. Wagner stopped the first with a strong fly, and moments later Baker made a feet-first slide to break up a challenge on the left baseline by Muncy senior Ariana Copeland.
"They got corners (and had good possession), but I also don't think we were at our peak performance," Zaleski said. "Still, they came here and did what needed to be done."
LEWISBURG 2, MUNCY 0
L-Rylee Dyroff, 0:15.1.
L-Maddie Redding (Siena Brazier), 1:20.
Shots: L 7-3. Corners: L 8-6.
Saves: Lewisburg 3 (Keeley Baker); Muncy 5 (Brandi Hitesman 3, Alaina Brelsford 2).