TOWAMENCIN >> It wasn’t the start Pennridge was looking for, so the Rams made a change.
With North Penn dominating the draw control and turning it into offense, Pennridge sent senior attacker Maddie Dachowski to take the draws. Around the circle, Pennridge set up its fleet-footed midfielders Jen Rodzewich and Grace Loughery.
Dachowski would put the ball in play, one of the mids would scoop it up and slowly but surely, the Rams took control of the game. Rodzewich and Loughery combined for seven goals as the Rams defeated the host Knights 10-7 Friday afternoon.
“I knew if I put Maddie, who is very strong, on the draw, I could have Grace and Jen on the outside to work for those ground balls,” Pennridge coach Karen Schnurr said. “It seemed to not be going in anyone’s stick, it was more of a 50/50 ball off the draw.”
It was a solid win for Pennridge, which was coming off a 15-3 win over Hatboro-Horsham Thursday night. Schnurr said the late finish and afternoon start on a dreary Friday may have had something to do with her team’s slow start, which saw North Penn take a 3-1 lead seven minutes in.
The Rams, who have shown a knack for creating runs during the season, scored three straight goals to take a 4-3 lead before North Penn’s Bri O’Donnell knotted it up 4-4. Loughery broke the stalemate about three minutes later with a tight-angled shot on the post.
Loughery, a junior, followed it with a second goal where she picked up a ground ball off a draw control and zipped in alone for the score. Pennridge closed the half on a 3-0 run with Miya Wagner making it 7-4 at the break.
“Winning the draw control is so crucial because you have possession and you can slow the momentum down,” Loughery said. “Having Maddie take them, she was able to get it to Jen or me and we were out-hustling them to get it down into attack.”
Loughery added her third and final goal of the game early in the second half on a free position shot. Where North Penn had started well, it started to play a little more frantic in the second half and rushed things on the offensive end.
“We didn’t take care of the ball and slow it down,” Knights coach Heather Mellow said. “We were better at doing it in the first half. In the second half, we panicked, tried to force something and everyone wanted to be that unsung hero. It didn’t pan out for us, it seemed like every time we got the ball, it would go straight down the other way because we’d try to force something.”
Rodzewich scored four goals to lead Pennridge but Loughery had just a big of an impact. Aside from her speed, the junior has an innate ability to draw contact. She had a small cut over her right eye from a stick check Friday afternoon to prove it, but that skill of drawing fouls is an asset to the Rams.
“Her simple presence on the field, it’s one that can’t be matched,” Schnurr said. “It’s something I definitely can’t teach her, she just has it inside of her. She plays with so much passion. She’s already thinking two steps ahead of what the defender is going to do and react.”
“I first look for shooting space and if that’s not there, then I see if I can draw contact or get fouled,” Loughery said. “If not, I’ll pull it out and we can work it around.”
O’Donnell, who led the Knights with three goals, scored her second to make it 8-6 on a long solo run after collecting the ground ball following a Kate Winstanley save on Loughery. That goal came with 20 minutes left and it would take 11 minutes for the next goal, which came from the stick of Rodzewich with 9:20 left.
The Rams senior and Temple recruit bookended her third and fourth goals around O’Donnell’s third, her last coming with nine seconds left and icing the game.
With three games left on the schedule next week, the Rams seem certain to achieve their preseason goal of making the postseason.
“Losing in our last game last year and being pushed out of the playoffs, we’ve used that all year as motivation,” Schnurr said.
Loughery has seen that motivation firsthand all season and she think the Rams are just starting to peak as a team. It’s a good time to do it.
“When (Schnurr) calls timeout, she’s always telling us to play from our heart and think about the overall goal,” Loughery said. “It’s been our focus the entire season, we have the overall goal but we also focus on each game in front of us. Get the ball in the back of the net, win games and eventually get to the playoffs. This season is about getting our seniors to the playoffs.”
Pennridge 10, North Penn 7
Pennridge 7 3 -10
North Penn 4 3 – 7
Goals-Assists: P – Jen Rodzewich 4-0, Grace Loughery 3-1, Miya Wagner 2-0, Maddie Dachowski 1-0; NP – Bri O’Donnell 3-0, Julia Keffer 2-0, Heather Shannon 1-0, Kristen Varilla 1-0, Kaitlyn Phifer 0-1.
Top Photo: Pennridges Maddie Dachowski looks to shot during the Rams’ game against North Penn on Friday, May 5, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)