TOWAMENCIN >> The North Penn field hockey team had its timing down Monday night.
It took just 67 seconds into Monday night’s District 1-3A first round matchup with Souderton for the Knights to take a 1-0 lead as Mikayla Barrow blasted a shot in on a penalty corner.
“It was huge because for us we’re always like score early, score soon then our momentum gets flowing,” North Penn’s Emily Crawford said. “And then from there on we’re like ‘Oh, we got this.’”
Then with zeroes on the clock in the first half, 11th-seeded North Penn put a damper on the No. 22 Indians’ comeback efforts — converting a late Souderton turnover into a untimed corner, with Kristin Varilla’s tip-in putting NP up 3-1 at the break.
“I think that was a game-changer as we went into halftime cause we had that two-goal lead we could take a moment to focus on the things that we needed to do, to continue to do and do better,” Knights coach Shannon McCracken said. “And it just gave us that sigh of relief almost and that confidence to go into that second half.”
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) October 23, 2017
North Penn added two more goals of corners after halftime and advanced to the second round with a third win this season over its Suburban One League Continental Conference rival, topping visiting Souderton 5-2.
“Penalty corners are key,” McCracken said. “When you got those numbers up and you got those opportunities it’s important to execute. We talked about even if we didn’t get off the first shot, getting off the second or third shot, which I think two of them we scored maybe like on a second or third opportunity.
“So we’ve been talking a lot about been persistent in the circle and just getting shot off at any angle you can, make the goalkeeper, make the defense make a play.”
Crawford scored twice, Barrow had a goal and two assists while Erica Kelly added a pair of assists as the Knights reached the 3A second round for the second consecutive season and extended its unbeaten streak to seven (6-0-1). North Penn visits No. 6 Plymouth Whitemarsh Wednesday for a spot in the quarterfinals.
“In the beginning we play like August hockey, we call it, which is kind of scrappy and everything. But once it gets to October hockey we need to get cut down on basics and fundamentals,” NP’s Bri O’Donnell said. “So I think we’re finally clicking.”
The Knights (13-5-1) handed PW its second — and last — loss this year on Oct. 13 when they went on the road and beat the Colonials 3-2. Plymouth Whitemarsh had a first-round bye
“Remember how we beat them and what are some of the things that worked, but it’s a brand new game,” McCracken said. “And we’re excited and PW’s going to be a great opponent.”
Juliana Borisow and Jess Gabriel scored for Souderton (8-11-0), which lost in the district first round for the second straight year. The defeat was also the Big Red’s fifth in a row against the Knights.
“This past two years, I mean, we have changed a lot,” Indians coach Nicole Bauer said. “The style of play, the confidence in them. They came from like a 1-12 team or whatever that may be before and now to make it districts two years in a row. We have a young squad still even though we’re losing very, very good seniors. But I’m hopeful for next year.”
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) October 24, 2017
North Penn goalkeeper Anissa Gardizy made eights saves while Souderton keeper Jordan Michalak stopped six shots.
Borisow pulled the Indians with 2-1 at 17:08 in the opening half off a corner – settling a pass from Gabriel on the right side of the circle and lifted a shot that hit the back of the cage.
“She has been doing that for the past couple of games,” said Bauer of Borisow. “She came on on our Abington game with the stroke and William Tennent was another great goal by her. Just her enthusiasm after she scores a goal boosts everybody up.”
The Indians were close to keeping it a one-score game heading into the second half, but the in the final seconds gave the ball deep in it own end and North Penn earned the untimed corner. Barrow stepped in from the top of the circle and unleashed a shot that Varilla — at the right post — tipped in.
“I still feel like we had the ability to score and get back in the second half, but it definitely changed momentum,” Bauer said.
The Knights pushed their lead to 4-1 on a corner as Madison Stotler redirected a Kelly shot up and in with 13:12 left.
“Madison has really nice touches in front of the goalie,” McCracken said. “She was a softball player, so has just that good hand-eye coordination. She has really nice touches in front of the goal.”
Gabriel cut the deficit to 4-2 at 6:36 as she got around Gardizy in front to put a ball into the cage, but the Knights regained their three-goal cushion scoring for a fourth time on a corner at 5:52 as Crawford collected her second tally redirecting a Kelly shot.
“Our corners were amazing tonight. We executed very well,” Crawford said.
After Barrow’s corner shot made it 1-0 Knights at 28:52, the NP doubled its lead at 22:18 on the break — Barrrow finding Crawford, who slid a shot past Michalak.