LOWER GWYNEDD >> One penalty stroke in a field hockey game is a lot.
Well, two were called against Wissahickon Wednesday, and those two were the difference as visiting Plymouth Whitemarsh slipped past Trojans, 2-1, Wednesday afternoon to keep the Colonials unbeaten and in first place in the Suburban One League’s American Conference.
Frankie O’Brien converted both strokes for the winners, who overcame a sluggish first half to top a Trojans team that played well enough to win.
But those two strokes were the difference.
“Normally you don’t see one stroke in a game, let alone two,” said Colonials head coach Charise Halteman. “So that was a little bit of a break for us there.”
The first came about halfway through the first half when Trojans netminder Wumi Popoopola had the ball go under her pad and get stuck there.
O’Brien converted, and the Colonials were on top.
“I’ve been practicing penalty strokes for about six years now,” O’Brien said, “and my feeling is you have to go where your gut tells you to go.
“(Popoopola) was very disciplined. I had no idea where she was going.”
The Trojans came right back to tie it with 6:41 left in the first half when Hannah Havrilla converted on a 2-on-1 break, and the contest went into the break even.
“Our game plan was to come out strong,” Halteman said, “but Wissahickon came out and set the tone.
“I felt we did a much better job in the second half, but they came out hard early.”
History repeated itself midway through the second half when a penalty stroke was called on a Trojans defender for blocking the ball near the cage with a body part as opposed to her stick.
Trojans head coach Leah Angstadt disputed the call to no avail.
“My player played the ball with her stick and has a bruised finger to prove it,” Angstadt said. “I think the official thought it hit her body, but it hit her finger, which is considered part of the stick.”
Right or wrong, O’Brien converted again, and the Colonials had a lead they’d not lose.
It got a little hairy down the stretch, but the Colonials held off some late Trojans chances, and were still unbeaten by game’s end.
“I was very pleased with the way we played,” Angstadt said. “Our first half was very good, our second half a little less so.
“We had a 10-minute lapse, and they took advantage of it.”
As for Halteman, she wasn’t thrilled with the way the Colonials won, but she was not about to give back the W.
“I would have liked to see us score on attacking plays,” the coach said, “but we’ll take the win.”
“As a team, transition killed us,” O’Brien echoed, “We have to capitalize on what we get.”
Top Photo: Wissahickon’s Grace Ball tries to maneuver the ball past Plymouth Whitemarsh defenders Julia Fidler and Kennedy Reardon during their game on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)