TOWAMENCIN >> Even during a successful season there can be times when it feels like a grind.
And while the North Penn field hockey team make be hitting one of those points, the Knights are doing all they can to fight through it.
“I know a lot of our team really isn’t feeling well so we’re all trying so hard to get out there and do our best,” North Penn’s Emily Crawford said. “But we’ve been playing really well.”
They maybe a bit under the weather, but the Knights are going into the District 1-3A playoffs on a roll, winning a third straight game in their regular-season finale Tuesday.
North Penn jumped out to a 2-0 lead on visiting Pennridge and held off the Rams to earn a 5-2 Suburban One League Continental Conference victory.
North Penn’s Emily Crawford tries to get a shot past Pennridge’s Hannah Cook and goalkeeper Mackenzie Bross during their game on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)
“There wasn’t as much energy today, I think that’s with any team at the end of the season sometimes,” North Penn coach Shannon McCracken said. “It’s a long season and the girls have been working really hard and we’re battling some illnesses right now and it can be taxing. But every team is in that same boat, so they pushed through today.
“When they rely on each other and play as a team, good things happen and that’s what they needed to do today. They had to really rely on each other work together and play through a little bit of adversity today.”
Mikayla Barrow scored both of her two goals for the Knights (12-5-1, 9-2-1 conference) in the first half, her second tally putting NP back up two after Pennridge (5-11-0, 2-10-0) had pulled to within 2-1 at 5:30.
“This is our fourth straight game in a row (on a weekday) and we’re all getting tired and it’s towards the end of the season,” Barrow said. “We’re all coming down with sickness, so we were all a little slow but luckily we picked up the pace.”
Crawford added a pair of assists as North Penn extended its unbeaten streak to six (5-0-1), the tie – 3-3 to Central Bucks South – coming last Thursday. The Knights came out the next day and edged Plymouth Whitemarsh 3-2, handing the Colonials only their second loss of 2017.
NP then capped the four games in six days stretch with win over Hatboro-Horsham (9-0) and Pennridge this week.
“It’s great at the end of the season getting three wins and that win against PW was really great win for us and I think it solidified some confidence in us,” McCracken said. “And we play really hard teams. If you look at the top 10 right now in the district, we’ve played I think it’s either six or seven out of the top 10 this season.
“So when you play good team you’re prepared for the postseason and we talk about even if we lost to a few of those teams there was a lot to learn.”
Sydney Borneman had a goal and assist for the Rams, who had a two-game win streak snapped.
“I thought we played well. I think we had intensity for some part of the game, said Borneman, a junior. “We just need to work on getting the ball in the cage, but otherwise I think our defense played really strong and tried their hardest.”
Pennridge’s Kayla Richards tries to avoid the ball after checking North Penn’s Bri O’Donnell during their game on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)
Rams goalkeeper Mackenzie Bross made 17 saves while NP goalie Anissa Gardizy stopped seven shots.
Pennridge looks to be on the outside looking in on districts – sitting 27th in the rankings with 24 making the field. But Borneman has seen the Rams continue to get better, as they gave NP a tougher battle than the Knights’ 6-1 win in the teams’ first meeting Sept. 25.
“Today was a closer game and that happened with a few of our other games,” she said. “The first time we played them it was big gap and now I think we starting work on defense more.”
Pennridge has two SOL non-conference road games left on its schedule – at Council Rock South 3:30 p.m. Wednesday then at Cheltenham 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
North Penn is currently 11 in the district rankings, which would give the Knights a first-round game when the 3A playoffs begin Monday.
“We know, from now on, we need to go hard,” Crawford said. “Everything needs to improve. Our stick work needs to be perfect, passes need to be accurate.”
North Penn had a 2-0 lead after Barrow’s first goal at 7:56 in the first half but the Rams cut the margin in half when Abby Ludlow got a stick on a ball hit by Borneman at 5:30.
Barrow, however, answered less than two minutes later, tipping in a Crawford shot at 3:51 to make it 3-1 Knights.
“We had a great transition up to the attack and we had a nice pass into the middle and I just luckily got the tip and got it in,” Barrow said.
Pennridge’s Hannah Cook loses her stick as she checks North Penn’s Emily Crawford during their game on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)
The Knights pushed their advantage to 4-1 at 19:44 in the second half. Pennridge could not clear the ball from the circle after a NP corner and eventually Bri O’Donnell’s shot found its way in.
Borneman cut the lead to 4-2 at 13:01 as she drove down through the middle of the field and blasted a shot into the cage.
“I think, in my opinion, their defense is weaker than their offense,” Borneman said. “I just felt like I felt the need to take it down and I had an open shot so I just thought I would take it.”
But North Penn regained a three-goal cushion as Julia Scanlon scored on a one-timer off a Crawford assist with 6:33 remaining.
The Knights grabbed a 1-0 lead at 11:33 in the first half as a scramble in front ended with Madison Stotler knocking the ball over the goal line.
Barrow made it 2-0 at 7:56 when she save a ball from going over the end line then scored from a tight angle by the left post.
“I rebounded off of my shot and I got it and I threw it right across and it went the girl’s foot and went in,” Barrow said.