GRATERFORD >> No matter the circumstances, an Owen J. Roberts-Perkiomen Valley field hockey matchup typically promises one thing.
It won’t disappoint.
OJR got the better of PV on Monday night under the lights of the Perk Valley baseball field, making Leanne Faust’s goal midway through the first half stand the rest of the way en route to claiming a 1-0 win over Perk Valley to spoil the Vikings’ Senior Night.
“Our girls always seem to get up for this game, playing against Perk Valley,” said OJR head coach Amy Hoffman. “We always play them tight. It’s become a big rivalry for us, so we want to play up and play as hard as we can.”
The win keeps Owen J. Roberts (4-2 PAC Liberty Division; 9-2 overall) right in the heart of the race for the No. 2 seed in the Liberty Division, where the Wildcats currently hold a head-to-head advantage over Methacton. The loss sinks Perk Valley to 2-4 in the Liberty Division and 7-5 overall.
“It was a really big game for us to win for us to stay in the running for the playoffs,” said Bridget Guinan. “We want to get back to where we were last season.”
Even amid a season where both teams haven’t asserted their typical dominance on the year, OJR and PV were on similar wavelengths throughout the night.
Leanne Faust connected on a right place, right time goal just over 15 minutes in to give the Wildcats an early lead they’d never relinquish.
The senior worked her way behind the PV defense during a corner insert, then waited patiently and knocked a rebound into the net amid a scrum out front to break open the scoreless game.
“Sarah (Garritano) sent it toward goal and I tipped it,” she said. “Then it got stuck in between a couple of defenders, so I just popped it in.”
Sounds much simpler than it looked.
The Wildcats created nine corners while Perkiomen Valley had eight. Shots were nearly even as PV held a 6-5 advantage.
Perkiomen Valley controlled the possession for most of the second half. The Vikings secured it over the final few minutes, but came up empty-handed on two late corner chances that ultimately ended up sealing it.
“It was all us in the second half,” said Perk Valley head coach Erik Enters, “but we just couldn’t find a way to put it in. That’s been a problem for us all season.
“We had multiple chances, especially at the end. They (OJR) had one small five-minute flurry, but for the most part we were in control. We’ve got to be able to finish those chances.”
Though the door may be shut on their chances to make the PAC Final Four this season, Enters and his team have plenty to play for over their final six games.
“We’re chasing three wins,” said Enters. “Three more wins and we should have no problems making districts. That’s definitely in sight for us — 10-8 would be a great place to be.”
Don’t Call it a Rebuild
After graduating eight key members from last year’s state playoff program, Hoffman won’t tab the 2016 season a rebuilding one.
“We don’t want to say that we’re ‘rebuilding,’” she said, “we’re more-so reloading. We only have one scorer back from last year, but we have enough people back that were around and right there with that group that we had last year.
“We’re just reloading. Different people and different places.”
The Wildcats’ current roster boasts only three seniors — Jordyn Marburger, Faust and Maddie Parr.
Owen J. Roberts has now claimed the previous five meetings in their rivalry with Perk Valley over the past two seasons.
OJR swept PV last season on the way to a 3-1 win in the PAC-10 title game, and have won both matchups this season by a combined two goals. The Vikings swept OJR in the regular season then beat them again in the conference title game in 2014.