ROYERSFORD >> The last thing an unbeaten team wants to see on their schedule right now is the scorching-hot Methacton field hockey program.
A week after dealing Upper Perkiomen its first loss of the 2016 season, the Warriors got back to their spoiling ways Wednesday evening.
Using two second-half goals from standout juniors Olivia Hoover and Emily Owens, Methacton handed Spring-Ford its first Pioneer Athletic Conference loss of the season — a 2-1 decision at the Rams’ Coach McNelly Stadium.
“We’re a great team under pressure,” said Hoover. “Being the underdog was a good thing for us in this situation. We knew we had nothing to lose, so we knew we’d have to go out there and give it our all.”
Wednesday’s result brings three teams to within striking distance of the top two spots in the PAC’s Liberty Division. Spring-Ford still remains at the top with a 6-1 record in Liberty Division play (9-1 PAC; 11-4 overall). Methacton improves to 5-2 in the Liberty Division (8-2 PAC; 11-2 overall), while still nudging back and forth with Owen J. Roberts for the division’s No. 2 seed.
“We knew we didn’t have much breathing room coming in,” said Methacton head coach Sarah Quintois. “We had a lot on the line, which I think played into it. We really needed this win.”
Five minutes in, Hoover took an errant Spring-Ford shot directly to her left knee, forcing her to sit on the sideline for the remainder of the first half.
Then four minutes into the second half, she was jumping for joy with her teammates after scoring the game’s opening goal on a penalty stroke.
How’s that knee feeling now?
“I knew I wouldn’t be able to help the team much if I stayed out there right after I got hit,” she said. “It was hard. I really wanted to be in the game, wanted to contribute. I knew this was such a big game for us.”
“Right away, she was asking us on the sideline ‘I can still go back in, right?’” said Quintois. “We knew if she could be, she’d be back our there, definitely. She’s tough. It would take a lot more than a huge welt on her leg to keep her on the sideline.”
Owens rifled a much-needed insurance goal into the Spring-Ford net five minutes after Hoover’s stroke to give the Warriors a two-goal lead.
Spring-Ford never went quietly, though.
Shortly after Methacton was dealt a yellow card, Kaitlyn Crist deflected a big blast from Lexie Nugent to put the Rams on the board with just under three minutes left. Spring-Ford kept up the pressure, but the Methacton defense, backed by Addie Frey’s six saves in the cage, held on to seal it.
On the night, Spring-Ford was out-cornered 13-4 and out-shot 12-5.
Spring-Ford head coach Jennie Anderson said it simple afterward — the Rams just didn’t have it.
“We couldn’t generate any offense. You can’t win a lot of games without being on your half,” Anderson said
That said, though they entered Wednesday with a two-game lead on the field, Anderson and the Rams brought the same intensity they’d carried with them all season.
“Every game is a playoff game for us, especially this late in the season,” she said. “We’re all vying for a Final Four spot, we’re all vying for a district spot. Just about every team out there right now is desperate. Everyone has to bring their best for these final few games.”
Methacton now holds a 6-1-1 series lead against Spring-Ford over the past four seasons. During that run, the Warriors have posted 17 goals and allowed only six goals against. Both teams tied 1-1 last season, with Methacton’s lone goal scored by Owens. Spring-Ford had defeated Methacton 3-2 just a week into the regular season.
Methacton is now on an eight-game winning-streak, starting back in mid-September with a 1-0 win over Perkiomen Valley. Spring-Ford had its nine-game winning-streak snapped Wednesday, which had started with a 3-0 win over Perk Valley in September.