TOWAMENCIN >> North Penn’s Bri O’Donnell suffered a few bumps and bruises against Wissahickon in the first round of the District 1 Class AAA playoffs Monday afternoon at North Penn High School. Play was stopped twice in the first half when she took a ball to the knee and another to the elbow.
Fortunately for the Knights, she didn’t miss more than a few minutes of game-time. The tough junior forward scored two goals and had one assist in the No. 9 seeded Knights 4-1 win over No. 24 Wissahickon.
“She’s a tough kid,” North Penn coach Shannon McCracken said of O’Donnell. “She got hit a couple times today and she’s a tough kid. She not only is she an excellent player, but she also is the heart of the team at times. She makes big plays for us. She’s such a team player. She wants to finish the game … She just keeps things simple. It looks flashy out there sometimes, but she keeps things simple.”
O’Donnell got the scoring started nine minutes into the game. She intercepted a pass between two Wissahickon defenders and was off to the races on a breakaway. She faked out the goalie, went right and scored while falling over to put the Knights ahead, 1-0.
“I just try to go back to the basics and what I learned a while ago when I first started,” O’Donnell said of the one-on-one situations. “When I see the goalie I just try to pull right. First I look for a teammate and if I don’t find them I just try to pull right around the goalie and it just went in — snagged it off the end-line.”
O’Donell added another goal in the second half, which started a game-sealing run for North Penn.
She scored with 16:51 left in the game to make it 2-0. This time she had to do much more than just get around the goalie. She grabbed the ball on the edge of the circle and made her way through a handful of Trojans defenders before putting the ball in the back of the cage.
“At halftime we said we really need to step up our play and come out stronger,” O’Donnell said. “As a team we came together and played as hard as we could and answered back in the second half.”
The next goal came just over a minute later. O’Donnell passed the ball in on a corner to junior Mikayla Barrow. Barrow lofted the ball high, over the goalie, and into the cage for a 3-0 North Penn lead.
The fourth and final Knights goal happened less than two minutes later. Another corner, O’Donnell passed the ball in to Barrow, who sent it across to senior Amber Blackshear. The upperclassman ripped a backhand into the cage for a goal.
The Knights scored those three goals in 3:03 to turn a tight 1-0 game into a 4-0 edge.
“I think we were playing with a little bit of nerves,” McCracken said. “Once we settled into the game and got that second goal, it kind of lit us up a little bit. It woke us up a little bit to playing hard and the girls I could tell turned to each other on the field and (said) lets keep up the attack, keep up the pressure.”
“I just think they capitalized on an opportunity and they’re up 2-0,” Wissahickon coach Leah Angstadt said of the run. “We had a little bit of a lapse. They had a really nice third goal — they lifted it right over our goalkeeper. They just kept building on their momentum from that second goal and we kind of sulked a little bit.”
The Trojans got on the board with 12:42 to play. Julianna Sutow found Jessica Waite, who scored from in front of the cage.
North Penn will face No. 8 Council Rock South at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The loss brings Wissahickon’s season to an end.
“It’s great to get here this year,” Angstadt said. “We don’t have very many returning starters on the varsity level. It was new for a lot of the girls this year. It’s great to finish our seniors with getting to districts and it’s a great opportunity for our younger athletes to get to play at this level so when we’re back next year they know what it’s like.”