LOWER MERION >> When Souderton scored four straight goals in the second half to cut Harriton’s lead to 15-10, it was the Rams’ Greta Stahl who blunted the Indians’ momentum.
And the junior Northwestern commit did it with flair — getting to the front of the goal then unleashing a shot behind her back with 15:25 left that reasserted Harriton’s control in the District 1-AAA girls lacrosse first round contest.
“I mean, the girl was in front of me, I didn’t really have a front shot and I’ve been practicing behind-the-backs for a while,” said Stahl of her goal. “So I was like, you know, might as well do it. And it happened to work.”
While 19th-seeded Souderton had a few moments Tuesday afternoon, Stahl was dominant throughout, scoring nine times and handing out seven assists as the No. 14 Rams advanced to the district second round for the eighth straight season with a 20-12 victory at Harriton.
“That’s a good team. They had a nice offensive set, they played hard, they did a nice job on the draws,” said Harriton coach George Dick of Souderton. “When we played settled and composed and got good possessions we scored. And that’s kind of how we are all the time.”
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Claudia Conrad and Katelin Williams both finished with four goals for the Rams (13-6), who advance to visit third-seed Owen J. Roberts — which had a first-round bye — 5 p.m. Thursday.
“We played Owen J. in the fall just as like a pick-up game and they have a really strong defense,” Stahl said. “Should be a very good game because we have a strong defense with strong offense, they have a strong offense and strong defense. It’ll be very, very close. I’m excited.”
Sarah Goodwin had two goals and two assists for Souderton, which ends it season at 12-7. Liz O’Hara, Riley McGowan, Kaitlyn Mardi and Anna Annello all scored twice for the Indians, who returned to the District 1 playoffs after a one-year absence.
“I feel really good about this season. I think we all did,” Goodwin said. “Last year, we didn’t make playoffs so this year that was really one of our goals and I’m really proud of us for being able to do that. And we played some tough teams and we came out with really strong winds in the very beginning and then coming out at the end.
“So I’m really proud of all of us and this season, we came together as a team and definitely going into next year I’m really excited to see how much we’ll progress and how maybe we’ll go even farther in playoffs.”
Souderton stayed close for most of the first half. Stahl tallied the game’s first two goals, but the Indians came back to tie the Rams twice — the second time at 3-3 — and after a 3-0 Rams run goals from Jenny Ubowski and McGowan had Big Red within 6-5 at 6:19.
But Harriton ended the half by collecting the last five goals — Stahl assisting on two and scoring twice, her strike with nine seconds left putting the Rams up 11-5 at the break.
“Our last game we had a come-from-behind win against Hatboro-Horsham, so we had a lot of momentum going into this game. And we were really excited to play the way we played in that second half of that game” Goodwin said. “I guess we just got sort of a slow start. Their Number 34 (Stahl), we were trying to switch up our defense to adjust to her playing style and it didn’t really work. It worked sometimes. I think that was one thing that really, really impacted us in the game.”
Carlie Doughty scored off a free-position shot at 24:32 in the second half, cutting the deficit to five. But the Indians could not stop Harriton’s patient offensive attack helmed by Stahl behind the net finding cutters for goals or getting to the front to score herself.
“I wait to see what the defense does,” Stahl said. “Sometimes it’s in a double, and if it’s in a double that means someone up top is open. I kind of just play off the defense. If I see I have a smaller girl on me, I try to roll off of her.”
Four straight Harriton goals had the Rams up 15-6 after an Allison Schwab strike at 19:14. Back-to-back goals from Annello made it 15-8 while goals from Mardi and McGowan had Big Red back within five at 16:03.
“We were just finding the cutters and we weren’t playing selfish, we were passing the ball whenever we saw that open girl,” Goodwin said. “Each time we did it we gained more and more momentum. We gained more confidence and we felt like ‘Oh yeah, we got this, we can go and shoot.’ They may have been up by nine goals, but we can bounce back.”
The Rams called a time out and Stahl proceeded to score with her behind-the-back shot to begin a 3-0 run that had Harriton leading 19-10 after another Stahl goal at 14:02.
O’Hara and Goodwin pulled the Indians with 18-12 with 8:17 remaining, but Souderton went scoreless the rest of the way and the Rams tacked on two more for the final scoreline.
(14) Harriton 20, (19) Souderton 12
Souderton 5 7 — 12
Harriton 11 9 — 20
Souderton Goals-Assists: Sarah Goodwin 2-2; Riley McGowan 2-1; Anna Annello 2-0; Kaitlyn Mardi 2-0; Liz O’Hara 2-0; Carlie Doughty 1-1; Jenny Ubowski 1-0; Maddie Knight 0-1.
Harriton Goals-Assists: Greta Stahl 9-7; Katelin Williams 4-1; Claudia Conrad 4-0; Emily Stewart 1-1; Molly McDonough 1-0; Allison Schwab 1-0.
Top Photo: Harriton’s Molly McDonough runs upfield with the ball while Souderton’s Sarah Goodwin (center) and Greta Stahl (Harriton, right) follow behind during their District 1-AAA first round game on Tuesday, May 16, 2017. (Rachel Wisniewski/For Digital First Media)