TOWAMENCIN >> Holding a 1-0 lead over Souderton after the first 30 minutes, North Penn field hockey coach Shannon McCracken knew the Knights needed a fast start in the second half.
“It was 1-0 at halftime and they had the momentum that first half, but we just played strong defense,” she said. “And then we talked at halftime making sure we come out and set the tone for the second half.”
North Penn got the message, doubling its advantage just 26 seconds after the break when Julia Scanlon’s hot took a deflection and found the back of the cage.
“It gives us really the momentum to push forward and say ‘We got this, we can win this. Let’s go,” said North Penn’s Mikayla Barrow of Scanlon’s strike.
And the Knights did to continue their march back from an 0-4 start to the season. After the visiting Indians pulled a goal back with 17:10 left in the Suburban One League Continental Conference contest, North Penn answered with the final three goals — the first two coming off the stick of Barrow — as the Knights pulled away for a 5-1 victory on a gray-skied Monday afternoon.
“I think coming out of the second half, we knew we could play much better,” Barrow said. “And we just put our heads to it and we really fought together and we played as a team and we had those nice through balls and just tipping the ball in worked really well.”
Morgan Rees collected the opening goal while Bri O’Donnell added the last with two seconds left for North Penn (3-4-0, 2-2-0 conference), which has now won three in a row since a tough opening to 2016.
“We had a really hard to our schedule. We’re playing some great teams that are extremely competitive in District 1,” McCracken said. “And I think the girls were hanging in each of those games, we just weren’t getting those breaks or we weren’t making that big play that we needed. And we just talked about keeping focused, staying together as a team, cause it is easy to fold and lose confidence. But we just said stick to plan, stick to our game plan, continue to push forward.
“They’re gelling a lot more now. We had a couple injuries in the preseason as well. So, I think they just starting to play more as a unit. They really get along really well on and off the field and I think that makes a huge difference to get through something like that when you start 0-4.”
Souderton (5-3-0, 2-2-0) may have had the better of the play in the first half but had trouble getting through the NP defense in the run of play along with being unable to convert on seven corners before intermission. Instead, it was the Knights going up 1-0 after a clearance kick by Big Red goal Casey Febus found the still of Rees, who put a ball into the cage at 11:59.
“I think we definitely outplayed them in the first half and when we came to reconvene at halftime, we thought we could go out and do that again the second half,” Souderton coach Nicole Bauer said. “But didn’t happen that way.”
The loss for the Indians snaps a four-game win streak in which they had given up only one goal and shutout their last three opponents. Souderton tries to rebound Wednesday as it hosts Central Bucks West in a SOL Continental game at 7 p.m.
“We have a very, very tough game on Wednesday,” Bauer said. “This is our first practice tomorrow in about six days or so, so it’s going to be an important practice to get back our focus.”
North Penn also stays in conference play for its next contest, as the Knights try to stretch their win streak to four Wednesday on the road against Central Bucks South 3:30 p.m. at CB West’s War Memorial Field.
“We’re looking to push the momentum forward and just keep this winning streak up and hopefully win the next couple of games,” Barrow said.
After Scanlon’s goal made it 2-0 North Penn at 29:36 in the second half, Souderton pulled to within a goal at 17:10 on a corner. Ali Casciato took a pass from Nina Disco at the top of the circle and unleashed a shot NP keeper Brynne Schoppe got a piece of but could not stop from dribbling into the cage.
But the Knights regained the two-goal advantage less than two minutes later as Barrow collected her first goal from in close at 15:47.
“I just trying to get it in, just going around the goalie and got it in,” Barrow said. “It was just really exciting.”
Barrow added her second on a corner to make it 4-1 with 7:38 remaining. O’Donnell entry pass went to Amber Blackshear, who slid a pass to Barrow for a shot that got by some traffic and Febus.
“Just trying to shoot far post, look for a tip Luckily got the tip and it went in,” Barrow said.
O’Donnell tacked on a goal with just two seconds left for the final 5-1 scoreline.