Honesdale's veteran stars took the court for one last time at this weekend's indoor tourney
As the day wore on, expectations grew and emotions came bubbling to the surface.
"Vespid Vengeance," a field hockey team largely comprised of senior players from Honesdale, appeared destined for a berth in the championship game.
Under the direction of coaches Becca Maciejewski and Grace Manzione, these former Lady Hornets ran roughshod over each team placed before them at the 17th annual indoor tourney.
"It was kind of their last hurrah, so it was definitely bittersweet," said Coach Maciejewski.
"On the one hand I'm so happy thinking about all the things these girls have accomplished. On the other hand, though, I'm very sad to see them leave."
Mary Martin captained a team that featured fellow seniors Mickey Johannes, Kate Pfeil, Nicole Cush and Elyssa Stanton.
This team (along with talented youngsters Megan Benson, Janie Murphy, Ally Meyer and Stacey Hart) went undefeated in Pool Play, thereby earning a slot in Sunday's Medal Round.
Honesdale then cranked up its game to another level entirely, officially closing out the 2012-13 season with wins over Hazleton Area in the semis and Wyoming Valley West in the title tilt.
"Vespid Vengeance" piled up eye-popping numbers all through the tourney. When the final buzzer sounded in the championship game, the local lasses had totaled 55 goals and allowed only seven on the day.
"There's just something special about this group," said Coach Maciejewski.
"They're all very talented and hard-working girls, but they have a really unique chemistry, too. They always know where they are on the field and they communicate incredibly well."
And, their achievements as a team speak for them selves. This particular group of Lady Hornets made a pair of deep runs in the District Two tournament.
Martin & Company were eliminated in the Class AAA semis as freshmen, then made it all the way to the finals last fall.
Sunday's tourney action in the High School bracket included 21 teams from all over the Commonwealth.
Each squad played seven games in Pool Play and the top squads qualified for the Medal Round.
"Vespid Vengeance" went 7-0 and finished alone atop their group. This sparkling mark earned the local lasses a top seed and first round playoff bye.
Honesdale met Hazleton in the semifinals and rolled to a 5-3 victory. Martin, Benson and Johannes provided the bulk of the offense, while Cush was outstanding in goal and Pfeil anchored the defense.
Valley West awaited in the title tilt, which sent ripples of excitement all through both gyms.
These two teams have a long and tumultuous history in districts. Back in 2009, the Spartans eliminated the Lady Hornets in the Class AAA semis. However, the Red & Black returned that favor with an overtime win in the 2012 semis.
This time around, Coach Maciejewski's girls had the last laugh.
Thanks to stellar goal keeping from Cush, relentless defense and a balanced offensive attack, Honesdale cruised to a 4-0 win and the 2013 indoor tournament title.
"I have to say that this was a total team effort," Coach Maciejewski pointed out. "Every girl contributed something. But, it was like that during the high school season, so I guess that shouldn't surprise anyone."
All told, more than 600 players participated in this year's event.
Friday's Open Division action attracted 14 teams, while Saturday's Junior High Division welcomed a record 24 squads.
Honesdale and Paupack each entered teams in all three brackets.
In addition, former players and coaches from each school competed in the Open Division, which has grown by leaps and bounds the past three years.