RED HILL >> A few days before, Methacton head coach Laurie Markle thought her team was dead in the water, mathematically eliminated from PAC-10 Final Four contention.
My, was she glad to be wrong.
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On Tuesday night, Markle and the Warriors punched their second consecutive ticket to the PAC-10 Championship with a 10-8 victory over Upper Perkiomen.
“It wasn’t until I was at home Friday night when I looked at the email and thought ‘Oh my God, we’re still in this,’” said Markle after the win. “Before that, we were just playing spoiler and trying to help ourselves get a better seed in districts.”
Using that spoiler mentality down the stretch of their run, the Warriors ended the regular season 7-2 in their final nine games, finding themselves in a four-way tie with Boyertown, Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford at 8-5 for the No. 2 seed in the PAC-10’s Liberty Division.
By virtue of the tie-breaker (the Warriors held a 2-0 head-to-head advantage over PV), Methacton found itself in the heat of the playoffs on Tuesday, matched up against Upper Perkiomen — seeded No. 1 in the Frontier Division — which had beaten the Warriors (13-10 on April 18) earlier in the season.
“This was a huge day of redemption for us, for sure,” said Methacton senior Daria Lucchesi, who paced the Warriors with four goals and a pair of assists. “To become the spoiler team of the PAC-10 late in the season and then ending up making it to the playoffs — this was one we really wanted to win.
“(Upper Perk) beat us during the season,” she added, “but our team has come a long way since then.”
With the win, Methacton will take on Owen J. Roberts (18-7 winners over Pope John Paul II Tuesday) in a repeat of last year’s PAC-10 title bout.
Behind Lucchesi, senior attack Sara Hughes also scored four times while Alana Cardaci had two goals and an assist. Deb Peifer notched an assist while Addie Frey had five saves in goal.
Throughout the game, Methacton dominated the draws.
With junior attack Jackie Cerchio taking the lead, the Warriors held a 17-3 advantage in draw controls, including the first eight of the game.
“That really hurt us,” said Upper Perkiomen head coach Susan Flack. “They dominated us on the draw control. We were able to make stops defensively and come up with things in the transition throughout, but we kept having to recover from the draws. We weren’t being quick enough off the draw and securing the ball. That put us in a hole early on.”
Hope Flack and Kenzie Gebhardt each registered hat tricks for Upper Perk while Morgan Rynn had a pair of goals and two assists on the night. Regan McComb was strong in net, finishing with 11 saves.
Upper Perkiomen clawed its way back after being down 8-5 just a minute into the second half.
The Tribe rattled off two consecutive goals, including Gebhardt’s tally at 19:41 shortly followed by Flack’s score a few minutes later to bring it to 8-7.
“I thought our girls gave their hearts, they played really hard,” said coach Flack. “There were a few turnovers and missed opportunities here and there that really ended up proving the difference.”
The night belonged to Methacton, though, as evidenced by Lucchesi’s change-up bouncer that found twine with just over four minutes left. The junior charged in front of the net, leapt up and skipped a slow one-hopper into the net to give Methacton the eventual 10-8 lead.
“I thanked the Lord for that one,” Lucchesi said with a laugh. “I saw an opening in the defense and brought it in toward the goal. When I jumped up, I knew I had to get rid of it. I felt pretty lucky that it went in.”
Now the Warriors gear up for a rematch of last year’s PAC-10 Championship with OJR, the No. 1 seed from the Liberty Division.
“Redemption,” Lucchesi reiterated. “I’m so hungry for this game and I know my teammates are too. They beat us twice during the season, and in last year’s final, so we definitely want to come out strong and see if we can get back at them.”
“We meet again,” said Markle. “It should be a really good game. They’re a strong team and they can beat you a bunch of different ways. We’ll need to bring our A-game.”
NOTES >> Owen J. Roberts won the PAC-10 title against Methacton last season, 11-10. … Cardaci rung one off the cross-bar five minutes in. …Gebhardt hit one off the post late in the second half.
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