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Fitzgerald steps up, leads CB West past Abington in District 1-3A 1st round

DOYLESTOWN >> Central Bucks West knew what Abington’s defensive strategy would be.

The Ghosts’ field hockey team was going to do all it could to contain West forward Taylor Mason and Abington did a good job of it. What West needed was someone else to fill the scoring void and take advantage of the attention being paid to Mason.

Liv Fitzgerald was more than up to the task. Fitzgerald scored twice and assisted two other goals as No. 10 CB West topped No. 23 Abington 4-0 in the first round of the District 1-3A playoffs Monday night at War Memorial Field.

“She was just able to get rid of the ball so fast,” West coach Courtney Lepping said. “We knew they were going to take Taylor out and it would require her to step up. She did exactly what we would hope for. Her shot is so quick, it’s hard to defend and she did a great job of executing that.”

The Ghosts faced near-constant pressure from CB West, which generated 25 penalty corners and out-shot the Ghosts 22-4. Offensively, it was a tough night for Abington, but it defended well given the circumstances.

Abington senior goalie Mackenzie Greiner played a fantastic game, saving 16 shots as West continued to pepper her cage all game.

“Mackenzie, what can I even say about her tonight,” Abington coach Katie Small said. “She was just on. She kept us in it, they put it in our circle often and had a lot of corners and we were able to hold them off for some time.”

Being in the postseason was new ground for Abington, which was making its first playoff appearance in more than two decades. That alone would make for a good season, but Small knows her team should be motivated to be better next season.

The next step for Abington is playing the kind of possession-dominant game West showed off on Monday and making use of quick passing. By the end of this season, the Ghosts were figuring out where each player was supposed to be on the field and that’s something that will have to carry over.

“I hope this shows the girls that Abington is a force to be reckoned with in field hockey and that we have a great future,” Small said. “I hope that coming out of the junior high, girls will want to stay and play for Abington instead of going to the Mount or Gwynedd Mercy. They should see the program building and getting better every year.”

Fitzgerald finally cracked the scoreboard with 18:38 left in the first half off an assist from Kaci Murray when she pushed in a shot from the left side of the circle near the net. Her second goal, which came about six minutes later, demonstrated why her coach praised her shot.

Standing just inside the right arc of the circle, Fitzgerald blasted an effort through traffic and into the cage for a 2-0 lead. For all her efforts and the work of her teammates, West only led 2-0 at the break.

Even so, West had created plenty of chances and saw little reason why that wouldn’t continue in the second half.

“We know where each other are and are going to be setting up,” Fitzgerald said. “We can start making a pass to each other before we even get the ball.”

After serving as scorer in the first half, Fitzgerald served as playmaker in the second, setting up Eva Altadonna’s goal with 24:05 left, with Murray also adding a helper on a scramble inside the circle. Dani Dundas iced the game with a goal that came with 12:50 left and Fitzgerald supplying the ball in exactly the right spot.

West will head to No. 7 Owen J Roberts in the second round Wednesday for a 7pm start.

“We played our game and especially with playoffs starting and you start scouting other teams and looking at other teams, the worry is are you going to stick to your plan,” Lepping said. “They did a great job of coming out, executing and staying with our game plan.”

CENTRAL BUCKS WEST 4, ABINGTON 0
CENTRAL BUCKS WEST 2 2 – 4
ABINGTON 0 0 -0
Goals: CB – Liv Fitzgerald 2, Eva Altadonna, Dani Dundas. Assists: Fitzgerald 2, Kaci Murray 2. Saves: CB – Laura Kubit 4, A – Mackenzie Greiner 16, Megan Dockstader 1.

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