Haverford – With a mixture of extra energy and composure, No. 12 Haverford held off a persistent Perkiomen Valley squad, for a 2-1 win Monday night in front of a spirited crowd at A.G. Cornog Stadium in the opening round of the PIAA Class 3A District One field hockey tournament.
The Fords (12-7) advance to the second round, where they will play No. 5 seed Central Bucks West Wednesday at 7 p.m. For the 27th-seeded Vikings (9-9-1), the season is over.
“I think we played with [extra] energy tonight, this being a night game – it was fun for the players,” said Haverford head coach Christa Taylor. “Instead of rushing here to the field right after school at 3 p.m., they had time to prepare for the game. We tried out some new rotations tonight at forward and with our middies, and I think we had some nice offensive movement.”
The first bump in the road for the Fords came when Perkiomen Valley senior Natalie Johnston scored with 22:31 to play in the first half on an assist by sophomore Gabriella Martina, putting the hosts down 1-0.
But the Fords rebounded quickly. With 15:58 to play in the first half, Haverford sophomore Sydney Corcoran tied the score at 1-1 on an unassisted goal. It was her eighth goal of the season, making her one of the Fords scoring leaders, behind sophomore Kelsy Knapp (14 goals), sophomore Carly Gannon (nine) and tied with senior midfielder Laura Winters (eight).
“Scoring that goal felt like redemption after falling behind,” said Corcoran. “We’re not a team that scores in the beginning of games, it seems like this season, we score in the second half, when everyone starts to click.”
Taylor said, “I don’t feel like we lost our composure when went down 1-0.”
With 8:36 to play in the first half, Gannon scored from just in front of the goal, on an assist from Lea VanLuvender, to give the Fords a 2-1 lead that remained constant the rest of the game.
“Carly has so much athletic ability, is so fast, sometimes it has to be seen to be believed,” said Taylor. “And Lea was solid in the back for us tonight – she was our linchpin of the defense.”
Haverford needed that defense early in the second half when Perkiomen Valley spent much of the time deep in Ford territory, getting one corner after another. But the Fords’ defense held, and a few minutes later, Haverford turned the tide for good, controlling the ball in Viking territory for most of the rest of the game and several times peppering Perkiomen goalie Wesley Miranda with some hard shots.
“I think the turning point for us came midway through the second half, when our senior captains, Lea [VanLuvender] and Laura [Winters], had some calming words for the team,” said Taylor.
“We buckled down defensively, and gave ourselves some good self-talk,” said Corcoran. “We didn’t want to lose this game in the second half.”
Perkiomen Valley head coach Erik Enters said, “We had a young team this year, starting three freshmen and two sophomores. We were a close-knit unit this season, and I think we advanced a little further than we thought we would [at the start of the season]. I think Gabriella [Martina] played phenomenally tonight, and Wesley [Miranda] made some great second-half saves that kept us in the game.
“This was our seventh one-goal loss of the season. I think skillwise tonight we did well – we’re a passing, finesse team – but we’ve been having problems finishing.”