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Upper Perk rises to challenge, knocks off Kennett

RED HILL >> Immediately following her team’s loss in the PAC Championship game last week, Upper Perkiomen head coach Jamie Warren challenged her players.

Not only to rebound from the conference title game, but also to take control in all phases once again.

Hope Flack scored twice and Upper Perk dominated the possession throughout on the way to a 3-0 shutout win over Kennett in the opening round of the District 1 Class AA playoffs on Wednesday night at Indians Stadium.

Think the Tribe was up to Warren’s challenge?

“We were really upset after losing PACs, definitely,” said Flack, a junior forward. “Our coach and our captains really stepped it up as leaders and told us that we needed to get our acts together. That definitely got us really excited for this one.”

With the win, No. 5 seeded Upper Perk (12-1 PAC; 18-3 overall) will travel to No. 4 Merion Mercy (8-0 winner over Villa Joseph Marie) on Friday. No. 12 Kennett’s season comes to a close at 9-10 overall (5-8 Ches-Mont American).

The Tribe put 23 shots on goal — 17 during the opening half — and kept Kennett out of the circle through the game’s first 23 minutes. It was a complete 180 from last week’s championship game, where UP lost offensive control in the second half, enabling Owen J. Roberts to score two-unanswered goals and take the win.

Upper Perkiomen's Hope Flack scored twice in the Tribe's 3-0 win over Kennett on Thursday. (Thomas Nash - DFM)

Upper Perkiomen’s Hope Flack scored twice in the Tribe’s 3-0 win over Kennett on Wednesday. (Thomas Nash – DFM)

“We were able to play much more relaxed offensively tonight,” said Warren, comparing it to the PAC championship game. “There was a lot more ball movement from our midfielders, which was really good to see. We weren’t always plowing it up to our forwards, then expecting them to do something with the ball. We were letting our offense develop.”

Flack got the scoring started seven minutes in off a cross from Abriana Gatto set up by AiYi Young. Almost 13 minutes later, Kathryn Lehman clanked a rebound into the cage to give the Tribe a 2-0 lead.

Upper Perk held an 11-1 first-half advantage in corners, finishing with 16 overall and limiting the Blue Demons to four corners throughout. Flack struck again midway through the second half, planting herself on the right side before she took a cross from Liz Fox and deflected it into the cage.

“Our backs were clearing it up (to the midfield) with a lot of long passes,” said Flack. “That’s what got the ball moving really well and let us keep it in our zone. We probably could have capitalized a little bit more on our corners and our shots, but fortunately we didn’t need to.”

Keeper Claire Borman proved to be a viable last line of defense in the Kennett cage where she finished with 20 saves.

“She’s played tremendous, especially the second half of the season,” said Kennett head coach Meghan Shumway. “She sees everything on the field and knows how to direct traffic back there. We’ve relied on her a lot this year.”

“We’ve got to place our shots better,” said Warren. “Their goalie was strong, but we’ve got to do a better job of moving her around and getting her out of position.”

UP To The Challenge

Merion Mercy has plenty of success over the previous few seasons in district playoff contention. The No. 4 ranked Golden Bears will enter Friday with a 13-4-2 overall record.

“I think we’re one of the top five teams in the district,” said Warren. “We just have to consistently play like that so we can get a state playoff berth. That would be a great accomplishment for this team. Friday will definitely be one of our toughest tests.”

New Hope

Upper Perkiomen can take solace in New Hope-Solebury being placed in the District 1-A classification this season. NHS knocked the Tribe out of the district playoffs the past two seasons, both times by a score of 4-3.

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