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Springfield-Montco edges Jenkintown, advances to District 1-A semifinals

SPRINGFIELD >> While the Springfield-Montco field hockey team could not carry a solid start over into the second half, the Spartans still came away with their first playoff victory in four seasons Monday afternoon.

“We usually do that, we come out hot and then we slow down,” Springfield senior Ellie Hamilton said. “But we got the win.”

Anya Kochanowicz and Hamilton gave the fourth-seeded Spartans two-goal lead before the break and that was enough to hold off No. 5 Jenkintown Monday afternoon and claim a 2-1 District 1-A first round victory.

“It’s so special because we really worked hard this season,” Hamilton said. “We’ve been practicing almost every day so we’ve been pushing it really hard, it’s awesome.”

Hamilton struck off a penalty corner at 12:39 to make it 2-0 but after a time out the visiting Drakes began to get their footing and put pressure on the Spartans after intermission. Jenkintown cut the margin to one when Taylor Spoerl found the back of the cage with less than three minutes remaining yet the Drakes were unable to create another scoring chance and Springfield survived to reach the semifinals

“Our girls left it all out on the field,” Jenkintown co-coach Neilly Graves said. “Certainly showed up better in the second half and were connecting passes better but I thought the fought really hard the whole game.”

Springfield (14-4-0) visits top-seeded New Hope-Solebury — which had a first-round bye — Wednesday. Both teams will play again Friday against either No. 2 Lower Moreland or No. 3 Gwynedd Mercy in the district final or consolation game. Three from District 1 advance to the four-team District 1/12 regional.

“Well, at least we made it out of the first round,” Spartans coach Linda Nixon said. “We lost in the first round, which we have never, ever done. We had always been able to move on to the second. Now, we were playing in the AA then so you had more games to play then this. But it was still nice because we have not made it on to see if we can get ourselves up and functioning.”

Monday’s victory as Springfield’s first in the postseason since 2013, when the Spartans topped Marple Newtown in overtime in the Class AA first round.

Springfield — which finished second in the Suburban One League American Conference — lost to New Hope-Solebury in last year’s 1-A first round. The teams were set to play this regular season but the game was postponed due to weather and could not get rescheduled.

Nixon is looking for a complete-game effort against the Lions.

“Sixty (minutes) would be just great,” she said.

In the last three seasons, Jenkintown has made districts but the Drakes have lost the district opener each time. Graves, however, was upbeat about Jenkintown’s progress in her first year with co-coach Katie Juliani.

“I feel really great with the program,” Graves said. “The girls have been amazing. It’s been a relatively smooth transition, we’ve had a ton of fun and really connected as a team all together which is awesome.”

Springfield took a 1-0 lead at 18:52 in the first half after Hamilton’s initial shot on a penalty corner was stopped by Jenkintown goalkeeper Courtney Todaro. Grace Woron collected the rebound and sent it low to Kochanowicz, but she could not get off a shot. Jenkintown attempted to clear, but the ball went to the Spartans’ Charlotte deKerillis. Her shot made it to the front of the net for Kochanowicz to knock it past Todaro.

“We have a lot of post players and people to get in there and fire it in, so it’s good,” Hamilton said. “A lot of pressure on the ball and the goalie.”

Hamilton doubled the lead at 12:39 — taking a pass from Hannah Grothusen on a corner and bouncing a shot into the cage.

Springfield could have made it 3-0 as it was given a penalty stroke with 2:20 left in the half. But Todaro came up big for the Drakes, reaching out to deny Grothusen then having the right post keep the ball out.

After an even second half, Jenkintown pulled with 2-1 with 2:55 remaining on a corner. Mia Kolb inserted the corner to Rory Strohm, then got it back and sent a ball to the front of goal. In a crowd, Spoerl got a stick to it and pushed it over the goal line.

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