ROYERSFORD >> Spring-Ford knew it had one last chance to win in regulation.
The Rams called a timeout with 19 seconds left to setup an offensive penalty corner.
Caroline Todd’s insert pass went to Katelyn Crist. Crist sent it to Ashley Sessa, who sent it right back to Crist. The junior midfielder took her shot, found the back of the cage and sent the Spring-Ford sideline into a frenzy with eight second remaining.
After the final seconds ticked off, No. 13 Spring-Ford was a 2-1 winner over No. 20 Pennridge in the first round of the District 1 Class-3A playoffs Monday afternoon at Spring-Ford High School.
“Coach called a good timeout and we decided to go with our give-and-go,” Crist said of the game-winning play. “Every time we did give-and-go before the goalie kept stopping it low on her pads and putting it right back in our face, so when Ashley hit it to me I just lifted it up over her.”
In the final 10 minutes of the game, Spring-Ford kept the pressure on Pennridge. They earned a number of penalty corners, but couldn’t capitalize until the final one.
“They drew up a really nice corner,” Pennridge coach Becky Spahr said. “It was beautiful. Corners are incredibly hard to defend and we did really well with them all day. It just happened on the last one, so it was tough. Two goals late in each of the halves is really hard to deal with, but they played wonderful.”
Spring-Ford’s first goal came in the final minute of the first half. After a failed Pennridge penalty corner, Sessa corralled the ball and turned it into a one-player counter attack. She raced up the left sideline, stick-handled through a defender and took a back-handed shot that beat the goalie and gave her side a 1-0 advantage.
Sessa, a freshman, was dominant from that point on. Every time she touched the ball in the second half, something good happened for Spring-Ford. She drew penalty corners and fouls to give her side opportunities to score.
“(Sessa) had a concussion at the beginning of the season,” Crist said. “We honestly struggled without her. Having her back is really nice. She scores a lot of our goals and is really like a spark of energy for everybody.”
Pennridge tied the game early in the second half. While Spring-Ford was playing down a player for a penalty, Penridge’s Caitlyn Amsden found Sydney Borneman at the top of the circle. Borneman went for the far post with a back-handed shot and tied the game at one.
“She’s incredible,” Spahr said. “It’s tough. She’s a senior. It was beautiful and it was setup really nicely by everyone else, too. I think it was an assist by Caitlyn — also a senior. Good to get them on the stat sheet today. We played really selfless hockey today which was fun.”
Spring-Ford advances to the second round, where it will face No. 4 Owen J. Roberts — the Pioneer Athletic Conference champion — Wednesday.
“We lost both times (against OJR this season) but our last time was only 1-0,” Crist said. “It’s hard to beat a team three times.”
Pennridge’s season comes to an end with the loss.
“We have 10 seniors,” Spahr said. “They’ve all really contributed to our program. This is the first time we’ve been in playoffs in a long time and they are a huge part of that. We made it their freshman year and then their senior year. They kind of said we’re not leaving here without seeing playoffs again. Yes we wanted to win today and I thought it was really cool we were in it. I’m proud of what they put on the field today.”
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