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Johnson’s two goals lift Oxford to first-ever district playoff victory

ROYERSFORD >> Hey Oxford, time to rewrite the record books.

Stanford commit Sarah Johnson came alive in the second half, scoring the game-tying and eventual game-winning goals as the Hornets stunned No. 14 Spring-Ford 3-2 for their first ever district playoff win Monday night at Coach McNelly Stadium.

“It’s honestly an amazing feeling,” Johnson, a senior said. “We all worked so well together tonight and we just want to keep going and build for our future.”

The Hornets, who were bounced in the first round of districts last year in a 2-1 loss to Haverford, will travel to Downingtown West for a District 1-AAA second round matchup Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. It’s a matchup that seemed out of the question through the first 35 minutes Monday as Spring-Ford controlled the pace of play — and the scoreboard — building a 2-0 lead off of goals from Lexie Nugent and Caroline Todd.

Spring-Ford's Caroline Todd fires it into the cage to give the Rams a 2-0 lead. (Sam Stewart - Digital First Media)

Spring-Ford’s Caroline Todd fires it into the cage to give the Rams a 2-0 lead. (Sam Stewart – Digital First Media)

In previous games, this was Oxford’s demise. This game, however, the Hornets finally bucked a nasty trend.

“If we don’t score first we have a very hard time winning,” Oxford head coach Anne Marie Anderson said. “The confidence that we have when we score first gives us kind of a push towards winning the game. When they scored it took us for a whirl but that second half they came out and they were ready to win. I knew it by the looks on their faces. They were pushing the ball, handling it well and connecting on all of their passes.”

And scoring.

Reese Canaday put the visitors on the board less than two minutes after Todd’s strike, knocking in a rebound that caromed of the stick of a Spring-Ford defender and into the back of the cage. She was followed by Johnson eight minutes later, who avenged her cage-rattling reverse chip that struck off the crossbar in the first half. Off a corner try and ensuing scrum in front of the cage, the ball ricocheted off a Spring-Ford defender and onto the stick of Johnson, who proceeded to take care of business, rattling home a shot from mid-circle to tie it at 2.

“We knew we had to get some points on the board,” Johnson said. “Once we did, the momentum just kept building. We didn’t let up for one second.”

Johnson then answered another eight minutes later. The lefty worked into space and unloaded a rocketing reverse chip that fired into the bottom portion of the cage to give the Hornets the eventual game-winning score with 5:14 left.

“That left chip, it’s lethal,” Anderson said.

Oxford's Sarah Johnson works around a Spring-Ford defender during the second half. (Sam Stewart - Digital First Media)

Oxford’s Sarah Johnson works around a Spring-Ford defender during the second half. (Sam Stewart – Digital First Media)

“We came into the playoffs last year knowing that it was our first time being there in a long time so we didn’t know what to really expect,” Johnson said. “We were young. This year we knew we didn’t want to lose again because we hated that feeling last year.”

Spring-Ford fails to advance to the district second round for the second consecutive season after failing to make the playoffs in 2014. Sarah Cooper and Clare Kennedy registered assists while goalkeeper Lexi Ciano made eight saves.

“We just can’t close out games,” Spring-Ford head coach Jennie Anderson said. “We played well but we had a lapse in defense for about five minutes at the end there and they capitalized.

“We got off to a hot start. It’s just over the past couple of games we ran into a tough schedule and we weren’t able to get that extra goal. Tonight was the same. Our kids played hard, that’s all you can ask from them. The effort was completely there, but we just need to find a way to score. That’s something that we’ll work on and hopefully take on as a lesson for next year.”

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