WHITEMARSH >> Plymouth Whitemarsh generated several scoring opportunities — converting on the one it had to in the opening minutes — then withstood some serious pressure from Springfield-Montco late in the contest to hold on tight to a 1-0 victory over the Spartans at sunny PW Wednesday afternoon.
“It was nice to get on the board early,” said the Colonials’ Frankie O’Brien, who knocked in the game’s only goal — coming off a corner — three minutes into the contest. Sam Spera assisted.
“We kind of hoped we could have capitalized a little bit more on our shots but a goal’s a goal and we’ll take the win.”
The win kept the Colonials in first place all by themselves in the Suburban One League American Conference, but for a team striving for perfection — they’re now 10-0 in SOL American contests, they found plenty of areas to improve upon, several items to sink their teeth into come practice time on Thursday.
“We couldn’t capitalize on corners, shots. Forwards couldn’t get to the ball, the defense couldn’t get to the ball,” said O’Brien, a senior leader for the Colonials and a 2015 SOL American First Teamer. “It was very poorly played by PW.
“I do have to give it to Springfield. They really played a great game today, cut to every ball, and they gave us a run for our money.”
The Spartans (4-8-0, 4-5-0 in SOL American) came on strong in the second half, keeping the ball around PW’s goal for much of the final five minutes, one good stroke away from tying the contest.
“We started a little slow in the first half and I think part of that was just getting used to the timing on the faster field, on the turf,” said Spartans coach Linda Nixon. “We had some good moments.
“I would have liked for the girls to start as well as we finished.”
Katherine Houghton, with a key save, got the shutout in goal for the Colonials. Emily Henry has developed into a solid goalie for the Spartans — she made 18 saves to keep Springfield in it.
The Colonials racked up 23 shots in the contest but saw just one go through.
“It is good to get the win. It wasn’t our best performance today so I think our whole team was a little disappointed with that,” said PW coach Charise Halteman. “I could sense the frustration out on the field too and unfortunately, we just weren’t able to make the adjustments we had been able to make in past games.
“We definitely had lots of opportunities, lots of opportunities in the first half. One to nothing games are always tough because the other team is right there. That increases the intensity and a little bit of scrappiness. We’ve scored a lot this season so we usually go up multiple goals. To be playing with just a one-goal lead the entire game was a different situation.”
Of the Colonials’ 12 victories this year, nine have been by two goals or more. On Wednesday they sweated out a tight one.
“That’s good. I think we’re getting close to playoff hockey and that’s the kind of hockey you’re gonna see,” Halteman said.
Plymouth-Whitemarsh (12-1-1, 10-0-0) was coming off its only loss of the season, a 3-1 setback to Haverford Tuesday, and came out with the kind of intensity it needed to have.
“We’ve talked about that all season long, that the first five minutes of the game our goal is to get down the field, get into the circle or get a corner and at least get a quality shot on cage if not score,” Halteman said.
“This game, we were able to score in the first five minutes and you always believe that sets the tone. Unfortunately that wasn’t quite the tone that remained for the rest of the game. But that’s a crucial thing when you can go down and score early. It takes off some of the pressure.”
PW hosts second-place Upper Dublin Friday and Springfield travels to Upper Moreland (3-6 conference) that same afternoon.
Top Photo: Springfield’s Gracie Woron and Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Sam Spera reach for the ball during their game on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)