LOWER MERION >> It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Monday’s District 1-AAA opening round playoff game was still undecided until the final five minutes given the two teams playing were separated by just one seed.
Shannon Reape blasted a waist-high shot off a corner opportunity with 4:27 left in the contest to give No. 17 Upper Dublin a 1-0 win over host No. 16 Lower Merion.
“Shannon did a good job seeing the open space and pulling to the open space and getting a good shot on goal,” Upper Dublin coach Heather Boyer said.
Lower Merion set the pace early in the game, controlling the ball in the Upper Dublin zone. The defensive effort by the Cardinals saw little quality chances coming the Aces way.
The best scoring opportunity for the Aces came off a corner opportunity with about 18 minutes to go in the first half as several Lower Merion players were able to get good hits on the ball but a nice save by Upper Dublin keeper Meghan Muth and a follow up shot that went just wide kept the Aces off the board.
“A missed opportunity will always (hurt you),” Lower Merion coach Rachael Bloemker said. “It’s a thing that we’ve tried to work on but we haven’t quite improved on it as much as I’d like.”
As the second half rolled around the Cardinal flipped the field as it controlled the majority of the play in the Lower Merion zone. Reape along with forwards Lauren Greene and Jess Grodsky kept the pressure on the Aces defense.
“I thought our girls did a good job of maintaining possession and controlled a lot of the game,” Boyer said. “We had a hard time generating some offense but we got a series of corners late in the game and finally one connected with the back.”
With the Cardinals applying pressure they earned eight second half corner opportunities as they were able to take advantage of Lower Merion’s aggressive playing style and ultimately able to cash in on the Reape goal.
“The way the game was called it didn’t bode well with our style,” Bloemker said. “We’re a little bit more of a physical team than they were calling. We always go for clean but physical.”
Upper Dublin’s reward for its win is a date with the No. 1 seeded Unionville Wednesday afternoon as the Cardinals look to get into the final eight.
“At this point, the seeding is just a number,” Boyer said. “The pressure is on Unionville as the higher seed. Everybody expects them to win, they expect us to lose so we’ve just got to go in there and play our best and see what happens at the end of 60 minutes.”