LOWER MORELAND >> A siege ends one of two ways.
The first, and less common way, is when the defenders under siege hold out long enough that the other side just gives up or negotiates terms. The second is the defense, no matter how valiant, eventually crumbles and the force on the attack pours into conquered territory.
For 74 minutes and 40 seconds on Monday, the No. 6 Delco Christian field hockey team held, held some more and kept holding out under almost constant siege by No. 3 Lower Moreland in their District 1 Class A playoff game at LM’s turf field.
Unfortunately for the Knights, it ended more like the fall of Constantinople than it did the Battle of Britain, as Lower Moreland’s Jamie Mayer finally scored with 20 seconds left in overtime to lift her team to a 1-0 victory.
“I’m very tired,” an exhausted Mayer said after her heroics. “It was almost 15 minutes extra of overtime. We just had to keep shooting, keep our heads up and always be looking for the open girl and try to draw the corners as much as we can.”
The numbers tell a lot of the story. Lower Moreland took 28 penalty corners and pounded 21 shots at the Knights and senior goalkeeper Ana Yee. Compare that to five corners for Delco and just two shots on Lions goalie Alex Casey.
Lower Moreland kept Delco pinned on the defense for almost the whole game, minus a few forays forward that the Lions defense was able to handle each time. No matter how many times the Lions tried though, they simply could not find a way to score.
Mayer spent most of the game weaving through Delco’s defense, only to find more defenders in her way and trying to disrupt the junior forward’s strokes.
“They just kept the pressure on and did a really good job with that, but we’ve worked so hard to solidify our defense,” Knights coach Katie Levis said. “We’re young in the back. We have a junior as the sweep and two sophomores as our back. Our goalie, Ana Yee, stepped up big time and became the leader of that defense. She takes it upon herself and makes saves that I don’t think many other goalies in the area are making.”
Having 28 corners and not scoring on any of them seems like the ultimate futile gesture, but Mayer said she and her teammates were getting chances and some very good ones. She gave Yee a lot of props for her play in the cage and the rest of the corner defense unit for getting sticks in the way.
Levis said Lower Moreland was able to her team contained because the Lions did a good job of reading the Knights’ body language and not letting her team hit the ball into holes. Getting the ball out of the defensive 25 has been a bit of a struggle for Delco all season.
But with the backs and corner defense playing like it did on Monday, the Knights were able to combat it.
“Allie Zubyk flew and a couple times she got out hard and fast,” Levins said. “We had Grace Irons, a freshman in the midfield, come in behind her and kind of play in the settled defense once (Zubyk) broke up the initial play. Once we started to get a read on that, Lower Moreland wasn’t doing anything to creative, they would just read off the initial play in, and they have some nice players in there, but we just tried to break it up.”
The teams met twice this season, Lower Moreland winning both 3-0 and Levis saying neither really being much of a game. So, she was very proud of her group and said even though it was a loss, it was a good confidence builder for a young team heading to the offseason.
Mayer wasn’t the only one getting in and trying to poke something past Yee. Kasey Duffey played well in the midfield and got a couple of good cracks in throughout the game. Gianna Venafra and Lindsay Graham were right in the mix.
As the minutes wore on and shot after shot wouldn’t go in, the Lions understandably got frustrated but didn’t let it affect them on the field. Lower Moreland has a small team this season with few reserves, so most of the players went the full length of the game.
“They just didn’t let up,” Lions coach Jess Ashenbrenner said. “You could tell at times, they wanted to get down but we just had to keep pepping them up. We called some timeouts so we could regroup and get it together. We tried different things on our corners, we tried different people to maybe change it up.”
Mayer, despite all the work she had already put in, raised her level in overtime. The junior had a breakaway about six minutes in, but Yee charged out and got a foot on the shot, denying what looked destined to be a goal.
She had another effort saved by Yee and clanged a lifted shot off the crossbar in OT.
Duffey won a ball and fed it to Mayer, who worked her way into the semicircle and across it, before finally punching one in with 20.2 on the clock. Mayer also forgot the postseason plays a second overtime, so her run was fueled by a desire to avoid penalty strokes.
“At the end, I was just staring at the clock as it got down to 30 seconds,” Mayer said. “I was running out wide and said ‘Kasey, send it’ and just sprinted as fast as I could. I don’t know how I got around that girl but I just tried to get it off because I did not want to go to strokes.”
Lower Moreland will face No. 2 New Hope-Solebury in Wednesday’s second round.
DELCO CHRISTIAN 0 0 0 – 0
LOWER MORELAND 0 0 1 – 1
Goals: LM – Jamie Mayer (Kasey Duffey). Shots: LM – 21, DC – 2. Corners: LM – 28, DC – 5. Saves: LM – Alex Casey 2, DC – Ana Yee 20
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