BUCKTOWN >> No drama this time around.
And because of that, the Wildcats’ posed at the midfield line yet again, holding three fingers in the air to signify a reign of dominance that holds for another year.
Two days following Owen J. Roberts’ thrilling comeback against Perkiomen Valley in the Pioneer Athletic Conference semifinals, the Wildcats sucked out any drama in the opening half en route to a convincing 11-4 victory over Spring-Ford for their third consecutive league championship Thursday night at Henry J. Bernat Field.
“It’s so nice to three-peat,” senior midfielder Anna Dempsey said. “This year we really didn’t know what the season was going to look like. We had losses (from graduation) and all of them were so important. We lost Courtney (Gerber), Kerry (Huzzard) and Maddie (Gebert) and they were all on each end of the field and were so important to our team. But we worked hard, we learned how to work together and that is what I think really helped us this year, our bond as a team.”
Dempsey finished with a game-high five goals while Mia Tornetta played big in net, finishing with six saves as the Wildcats took control from the start and never let off the gas. The team built a 7-2 lead at the half behind three goals from Dempsey and stretched the lead to 9-2 before cruising to the victory.
It marked a complete-180 for OJR, which came into Thursday’s title tilt regrouping after costly mistakes on both sides of the field against Perkiomen Valley had almost ruined their chances of completing the three-peat.
“The kids got refocused and regenerated,” head coach Joe Tornetta said. “We had a better practice yesterday. The kids knew what they were up against and what they had on the line. Our kids did a tremendous job tonight.
“We came in wanting to do certain things, which really isn’t anything different from what we normally do. We didn’t gameplan so much for Spring-Ford at that point, we just wanted to do what we do, better. The other night we didn’t execute anything that we do — especially defensively — and I think you saw a difference in the way we played defense tonight. They came out and executed tonight. They knew what their responsibilities were and we got it back into our system and they did an outstanding job this evening.”
The Rams’ bid for their first PAC title since 1991 was denied as the team fell to OJR for the third time this season. Camryn Jones finished with a team-high two goals with Cassie Marte and Jill Quigley each adding a goal apiece in the loss.
“Once the floodgates open it’s tough to get things back under control and they just keep coming at you,” Spring-Ford head coach Amy Short said. “Coming into a championship game you always feel like you’re going to win, but this was the first one for a lot of our girls and we were playing a team that we lost to twice and on their field.”
Efficient in space in Tuesday’s semifinal win against Pope John Paul II, Spring-Ford found it tough to work against a swarming OJR defense, only registering 12 shots — 10 on net. Credit the Rams’ frustrations to the defensive play highlighted by Kylie Cahill a “sophomore sensation (as Coach Tornetta puts it),” Sophia Murray and Tornetta in net. Tornetta came away with scintillating saves early, the most important on a free position try with her team holding a 1-0 lead before turning away a shot located for the top of the net from Quigley with OJR holding a 3-1 lead.
“Uncontested shots are so hard for a goalie to stop but my defense does a great job and makes it easier for me to save it,” Tornetta, the goalkeeper, said. “I rely on my defense.”
The Wildcats blitzed Spring-Ford right from the gate, Eloise Gebert (three goals, assist) converting on a free position try four minutes into the first before Kelsey Kilgallon scored her lone tally on a hard shot from the right of the crease to make it 2-0 three minutes later. Dempsey’s free position goal stretched the lead to 3-0 — capping a four-minute possession — before the Rams scored two of the next three goals from the sticks of Jones and Marte to make it 4-2.
From there, the offensive onslaught began.
Danika Swech (two goals) countered with a laser from the left of the crease to cap off a scoring frenzy that saw OJR score three times in the final two minutes and twice in the last 45 seconds to build a 7-2 halftime lead. Gebert’s two goals to start the second half, one on a free position try and the other on a well-placed high shot above the SF keeper, put the game out of reach.
“We just took advantage of every mistake they made,” Dempsey said. “Kylie Cahill picked up multiple groundballs, Eloise, Sophia Murray, so many people capitalized on their mistakes.”
“We knew coming into this game that we really needed to shut them down and show them this is what we do, this is our turf,” Mia Tornetta said. “We’re a family, we’re one and when we work together we just dominate.”
Case in point.