FRANCONIA >> An offensive outburst after halftime made it a successful Senior Night for the Souderton field hockey team.
With every win needed as they sit just in the District 1-AAA playoff field heading into the season’s final weeks, the Indians scored four times in the first 19 minutes of the second half and pulled away from visiting Pennridge to earn a 5-0 Suburban One League Continental Conference victory Thursday night.
“We definitely started to connect as a team and started to be able to finish the ball into the goal,” said Big Red’s Juliana Borisow, one of 10 seniors — six players and four managers — honored prior to the game. “And it was just our energy was really up, I think the Senior Night helped and overall it was a really good game with a lot of energy.”
It was the underclassmen, however, who provided four of Souderton’s goal, two coming from sophomore Courtney Kenah — both on penalty corners. Kenah tallied the game’s opening goal at 8:40 in the first half then after a Jess Schmidt strike doubled the advantage Kenah collected her second to make it 3-0 with 17:40 left.
“I think during halftime our coach was really motivated, and she really was encouraging us,” Kenah said. “And wanted to do it for the seniors obviously, it’s Senior Night.
Ana Gwiazdzinski and senior Jess Gabriel tacked on the final goals as the Indians (6-7-0, 3-6-0) bounced back from a 4-0 home loss to Central Bucks East Monday to boost their postseason chances. Souderton came into the contest sitting 24th in the 3A power rankings with 24 teams making the tournament field.
“I definitely want to make as far as we can. I want to make it to playoffs this year, especially for my senior year,” Borisow said. “And we are really close, I think these next few games and the next few weeks are going to be really big wins. I really want to win each game, obviously.”
After an even opening minutes of the first half, Pennridge (3-9-0, 1-8-0) had difficulty mounting a consistent offensive attack as the Rams were shutout for the third straight game.
“I thought that we played well at times. I’m not sure if the score reflected the closeness of the game but that’s a credit to Souderton, when they were in the circle they finished in the second half and we can not do that,” Pennridge coach Becky Spahr said. “So I think that a lot of it is just our inexperience, we’re really young. But a lot of it is also the wear and tear of the season.”
FIELD HOCKEY: Courtney Kenah to Jess Gabriel to Anna Gwiazdzinski to Kenah for the goal on corner a 1-0 Souderton lead 1H vs. Pennridge. pic.twitter.com/rvp5SwnTUZ
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) October 6, 2017
The Rams best chance to score came on a corner with the game still 1-0 in the second half, but both a redirection and another shot as the ball stayed close to the cage were stopped by Souderton goalkeeper Jordan Michalak.
“We’ve been talking about we play so much defense so just evening that out a little bit,” Spahr said. “And tonight, we played a lot of defense and when we have our chances we got to take advantage of them and we didn’t.”
Goalie Mackenzie Bross made 19 saves for Pennridge, who have just two seniors but are still playing for the present, coming into Thursday 28th in the 3A rankings, four spots out of the playoffs. Pennridge visits Central Bucks West for a SOL Continental matchup Thursday.
“We are thinking about the future’s going to be great but we’re not giving up on the season,” Spahr said.
Souderton — which earned the regular-season sweep over the Rams after edging Pennridge 2-1 Sept. 13 — steps out of conference play Monday to visit Abington. It is the start of a five-game finishing stretch that also includes CB West, North Penn and Methacton, all in the 3A power rankings’ top 10.
The Indians grabbed a 1-0 lead Thursday on a well-executed penalty corner at 8:40. Kenah sent the entry pass to Gabriel at the top of the circle, with Gabriel sliding the ball left to Gwiazdzinski, who found Kenah down low. Kenah took a touch then delivered a shot into the cage at 8:40.
“Well, I knew from a previous corner that that play was open so I told the girl who was on the right side of the circle,” Kenah said. “And that’s exactly how we practiced it and it was exactly how it would be on paper and it was executed really nicely.”
The Indians made it 2-0 at 22:37 in the second half as the Rams clearance only went as far as Schmidt just outside of the circle. Schmidt’s shot took a deflection over the diving Bross and rolled in.
FIELD HOCKEY: Anna Gwiazdzinski lifts a ball over the Pennridge goalie to give Souderton a 4-0 lead 2nd half. pic.twitter.com/12QaqhrHDO
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) October 6, 2017
Kenah collected her second at off another corner, as she corralled and ball at the feet of Bross and knocked it in at 17:40.
“It went right down the middle and it got played off a bunch of people and the goalie was down and I just kind of slammed it right by her,” Kenah said.
Big Red went up 4-0 at 15:25 when Bross smothered a Randi Hess shot but Gwiazdzinski lifted the rebound into the cage. The home side’s fifth goal came as Gabriel got some space and ripped in a shot at 11:33.