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Council Rock South edges Abington in District 1-3A 1st round

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ABINGTON >> Searching for an equalizing goal in the second half, the Abington field hockey team did about everything right on a penalty corner — only for the shot to hit the right post.

“That post,” Galloping Ghosts coach Katie Small said. “That corner, it was very well executed on our part, I think. Yeah, it was just unfortunate – hit the post instead of going in and hitting the boards.”

It was that type of day for the Abington offense Monday afternoon at Memorial Field in its District 1-3A first-round contest with Council Rock South. The few chances the 15th-seeded Ghosts had, they could not capitalize on while Kerry Kaufman’s first-half tally was enough to have the No. 18 Golden Hawks earn a 1-0 victory.

“It was just really frustrating that we couldn’t get it in after that hit the post,” Abington senior Olivia Geissler said. “Someone, that was their spot but never blame a teammate but that’s what we practice all the time. It’s just frustrating to lose to a team that we know we could take. And won against them last year.”

The matchup between former Suburban One League National Conference rivals — Abington moved to the SOL American this season — was played for mostly between the circles, the sides combining for just three corners in the first half. But South converted on the third as Kaufman got a stick to a loose ball in front and knocked it in at 9:18 before halftime.

“There was just a melee in front of the net. Their No. 23 (Kaufman) was able to pull the ball and flick it right pass the goalie,” Small said. “It was a great shot. Wish we were able to get ball out before they were able to get that shot off but there’s only so much you can do in that short amount of time.”

Council Rock South (10-7-2) won its district opener for the third straight season and advances to face No. 2 Perkiomen Valley at The Training Center Wednesday.

“We knew coming out that South was going to be a great opponent, just looking at who they played and the scores of those games so we knew that it was going to be a tough game coming out,” Small said. “I don’t think we were really — even though we were seeded higher — it actually would have said that we were probably the underdogs going in looking at who they played, who we played that we were similar.

“They played a great game, they have a very strong team and I wish them luck as they good forward. So I think that they’re going to do well.”

The loss was the second straight in the district first round for the Ghosts (11-8-0), but the back-to-back playoff appearances are signs of progress for a program that ended a 20-plus year district drought in 2017.

“I’m so proud of this team. Honestly, I didn’t think we would go into playoffs in the beginning of the season because we lost nine varsity starters last year and our goalie,” Geissler said. “This season was definitely a nail-biter in the beginning but us working together proved that we were a team that got to the districts.”

Abington goalkeeper Ellie Hughes made seven saves while CR South goalie Aspen Handel stopped six shots to record the shutout.

The Ghosts came into the playoffs on a three-game win streak — scoring at least two goals in the three wins — but were held scoreless for the eighth time this season.

“The goalie was very aggressive and I guess they really packed in on the circle and made it tough,” Abington senior Aileen Hughes said. “And their defense was also really good at getting the ball out which made it tough to get the rebound in.”

Council Rock South’s goal came on its second corner. A shot by Katelyn Cocco from the top of the circle stayed in front of the net with Kaufman finally corralling the loose ball and sending it into the net at 9:18.

Abington’s best chance was hitting the post on the corner. Hughes passed the ball back to inserter Grace Kirwin, who sent the ball into a crowd in front. Becca Gable got an open shot, but the effort was denied by the post. The ball stayed in the circle for a moment before the Golden Hawks finally cleared it out of danger.

“Every year we keep getting closer and closer and each year our goals will continue to change,” Small said. “Next year, it will be to get that first win.”

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