PHILADELPHIA >> They might have been wet and cold, but the Owen J. Roberts field hockey players were happy following their 10-1 victory over District 12 champion Cardinal O’Hara in a PIAA Class 3A opening-round game at Benjamin Johnston Memorial Stadium Tuesday afternoon.
The Wildcats (16-6), representing District 1 as its fourth-place finisher, snapped their two-game losing streak and advanced to a quarterfinal match Saturday against undefeated Emmaus (25-0), the District 11 champion.
“We looked back over a lot of years and couldn’t find a game that (Owen J. Roberts) had won in the state tournament,” OJR head coach Amy Hoffman said.
For O’Hara (11-11), which was making its sixth consecutive appearance in the PIAA tournament, absorbing such a defeat in conditions that included a heavy downpour throughout the second half was a learning experience.
“We lost a lot of people from the team that played here last year,” first-year head coach Moire Pellegrini, a former Lions goalie, said. “This team has come a long way, and we were happy to have the chance to play in the state tournament.
“I think they showed that there are better things to come from O’Hara field hockey in the future.”
With five underclassmen in the starting lineup, Owen J. Roberts also will have something to build on in 2018. Most of the Wildcats’ scoring Tuesday came from their non-seniors, led by junior Natalie Fuertsch, who banged in a three goals and added an assist.
Senior Bridget Guinan also scored three times, getting her second and third goals in the final 10 minutes. Sophomore Maddi Koury chipped in with one goal in each half, and soph Jenna Kirby, who opened the scoring in the 13th minute, contributed a goal and an assist.
Riley Hansan, Rylie Hijosh, Kirby, and Fuertsch did strong defensive work in keeping O’Hara from putting a shot on goal until Katie Shallow scored 14 minutes before the final whistle.
“They’ve been working well together,” Hoffman said. “They know when they do that they can be successful.
“We’ve had games where we allowed other teams to dictate the way the game was being played. We didn’t do that today.”
Fuertsch recalled a state tournament game played in similar conditions that ended in disappointment.
“It’s really exciting to be able to say that we know we have practice (Wednesday),” she said. “We came here saying just how badly we wanted to win this game, and we did it. All along the goal has been to get to states, and now we have time to prepare for our next game in states.
“Today, we just relied on using the basic skills, making good passes and playing together. That’s what worked for us.”
Owen J. Roberts owned a big statistical advantage over Cardinal O’Hara, getting 18 shots on goal to one for the Lions. Penalty corners also favored the Wildcats, 11-2, including an 8-1 edge in the opening half. Goalie Gianna Travia turned away eight shots for O’Hara.