RED HILL >> Molly Frey is the type of player who wears her heart on her sleeve.
Only on this particular night, she bore something even more.
“‘Offense wins games, defense wins championships,’”she recited proudly reading the Sharpie ink etched onto her right forearm.
By the end of Thursday night’s game, the Methacton goalkeeper proved it true.
Frey was a fixture in the Methacton cage, where she came up with 13 saves in leading the Warriors to a 3-1 win over two-time defending champion Owen J. Roberts during the Pioneer Athletic Conference title game at Upper Perkiomen.
It’s Methacton’s first conference title since the 2008 season, as the top-seeded and unbeaten Warriors (20-0 overall) used a pair of first-half goals then iced it with a game-sealer early on in the second half. OJR (14-6), the No. 3 seed, could only muster one goal on the night — a penalty stroke by Jenna Kirby — against a stifling Methacton defense.
“As soon as I walked out there (onto the field) during warmups, Julia Dickinson said it to me,” recalled Frey of her inspiration. “So I said, ‘Here, write that on my arm.’ Throughout the whole game, I kind of played with that motto. I played like it was my game — I couldn’t let anything take my focus.”
True to Dickinson’s words, Methacton’s defense was the difference. The Warriors clogged the passing lanes and challenged the OJR offense all across the field throughout the night. Corners were an even 10-10, but that’s where Frey stepped in as a last resort.
The junior showed a penchant for the big save, especially late. She made 13 stops — nine during the second half — as the Wildcats put together a run of four straight corner tries on a possession, but couldn’t get anything past.
“The communication has been working throughout my defense in front,” said Frey, a first-year varsity starter. “If they see something that I don’t, they’ll talk. If I see something they don’t, they’ll talk to me. My defense has been there 100 percent of the way.”
Amid all the flurries of shots and OJR chances late, head coach Sarah Quintois stood confident on the Methacton sideline.
“She takes it all in stride,” said Quintois of Frey. “She’s a real competitor, but she’s even-keel. She loves the competition, but she keeps it all in stride.”
Offensively, senior forward Emily Owens had a goal and an assist while Olivia Hoover posted a pair of assists and clanked one off the post just before the half. Grace Hirst scored the game’s opening goal on a frenzy in front of the OJR cage 12 minutes into regulation off a feed from Hoover. Liz Chipman tipped one in for the game-sealer 10 minutes into the second half, just minutes after having a goal waived off.
“We played with our hearts and everything we had,” said Owens, a Drexel University commit. “After losing in last year’s semifinal, Olivia and I said to each other, ‘We’re gonna come back here next year and we’re gonna win it.’ And we did it.”
“These girls really deserve it,” added Quintois. “That’s what it comes down to. They were ready for this the whole season and they really worked hard the whole way. This is a really special group and they deserve it.”
Meanwhile, for the first time in her head coaching career with Owen J. Roberts, third-year coach Amy Hoffman stood to the side and watched another team hoist the conference plaque.
As thoughts and emotions mixed, all she could do was give credit to Methacton.
“It’s hard,” she said, “but they’re a hard team to play against. They’ve got a good tempo. They’ll always run you over to get to the ball and we’re not used to that kind of play. You’ve got to be ready for anything when you step out onto that field. We were a little bit shy to start, but they came back and found their groove.”
OJR keeper Cassie Micklesavage was strong in goal where she finished with five saves.
Both teams will now shift focus to the District One Class AAA playoffs, which get started next Monday. As it stands currently, each will receive a first-round bye as Methacton sits as the No. 2 seed and Owen J. Roberts is at No. 7.
“We’ve got to get back to some basics,” said Hoffman. “We’ve got to refocus on some things and get ready for what still lies ahead.”
As the days go on, remnants of Frey’s Sharpie marks on her arm will begin to fade away.
However, Methacton’s 2017 PAC Championship run surely will live on for years to come.
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