BUCKTOWN >> Owen J. Roberts head coach Amy Hoffman knew what her team was up against Saturday.
The No. 1 ranked team on Max Field Hockey’s National rankings.
The defending PIAA-AAA champions.
An undefeated team that’s hardly been challenged this season.
The resume for the Emmaus field hockey team goes on and on.
All that aside, the Wildcats will use Saturday’s 6-0 loss against the Green Hornets as a means to sharpen and renew their focus for the final stretch of the regular season.
“That’s a really good team, you could see that in every phase of their game,” said Hoffman, now in her second season as head coach. “They move the ball well, they can defend and they have a strong goalie.”
The result keeps Emmaus unbeaten so far on the season, where the Green Hornets boast a 16-0 overall record (12-0 in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference’s Skyline Division).
OJR falls to 11-4 overall on the season, still sitting at 6-2 in the Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division.
With Owen J. vying with Methacton and Spring-Ford for the division’s two playoff spots, the humbling loss could be just what the Wildcats need as they gear up for the challenging final stretch. The three teams are currently separated by just a half-game in the wake of Spring-Ford’s tie with Perkiomen Valley on Friday.
“It’s a really good experience for us to go against a team like that,” said junior Bridget Guinan. “There are some things we can definitely take away from this. Hopefully it will help us for when we come out against Methacton Monday.”
Senior forward Kira Koehler scored four times for Emmaus, capping her day with a beautiful breakaway goal off the stick of Leah Zellner with nine minutes remaining. Zellner finished with three assists and a goal of her own while Meredith Sholder scored one and posted two assists. Emmaus out-shot Owen J. Roberts 11-3 and held a 9-5 advantage in penalty corners.
OJR seemed find their rhythm offensively late in the opening half.
After being held out of the circle through the opening 17 minutes, the Wildcats began to create some offensive pressure late in the half which trickled into the second. With about 14 minutes left in regulation, Emmaus goalkeeper Claire Nielsen sprawled out and came up with two huge stops in the cage before the defense cleared it to preserve the shutout.
“We told our girls during the half, ‘We’ve got nothing to lose,’” said Hoffman. “Whether we won or lost, it wouldn’t matter. We knew we had to be out there giving it everything. I think that really got them going during the second half.”
Now That’s Impressive
The win over OJR included, Emmaus has now posted 14 shutouts in 16 games this season. So far on the year, the Green Hornets are outscoring opponents 108-2, having allowed a goal only against Parkland and Downingtown East.
Emmaus has won 27 consecutive District 11 titles, and at this point look primed to make it 28.
Emmaus captured the PIAA-AAA crown last season with a 1-0 overtime win over Palmyra in the championship game. Palmyra opened up its state playoff run with a 2-0 opening-round win over OJR.