FAIRVIEW VILLAGE >> Perkiomen Valley’s halftime conversation was interrupted by a rainbow that settled behind the east goal at Methacton High School on Tuesday evening.
It was quite fitting, as the Vikings found their pot of gold during the second half.
Perk Valley scored three times in the second half — while Easton had a pair of scores waved off — on the way to a 3-2 win during the opening round of the PIAA Class 3A playoffs.
“It felt like a sign,” said Katie Wuerstle, Perk Valley’s junior who wound up scoring the game-winning goal with less than two minutes remaining. “It was right over the goal we were scoring in so we came out in the second half with a lot of energy.”
The sky is stealing the show here at halftime. pic.twitter.com/diWJzqYrUb
— Thomas Nash (@Thomas_Nash10) November 6, 2018
With the win, the Vikings (23-2 overall) advance to the second round of states for the first time since 1997. They’ll face Wilson — an 8-0 winner over Peters Township — in the quarterfinals on Saturday at a site and time to be determined. Easton’s season comes to a close at 20-4 overall.
Perk Valley’s scouting report on Easton was simple — the Rovers play a physical brand of hockey and will challenge every loose ball. In the end, that proved helpful to the Vikings as Easton was handed four penalty cards on the day.
“They were killing us from behind,” said PV head coach Erik Enters of Easton. “There’s gonna be lots of welts on our girls’ legs tomorrow. But in the same breath, we responded, we didn’t back down. We showed we can be nasty too.”
Saige Shine was a force on the defensive end and in the midfield as she played the entire game while Danielle Hamm set the tone and kept pace with Easton’s top seniors, Annie Walsh and Ellie McIntyre all game long in the midfield.
“Saige was a really good defensive presence right there on that right side,” said Enters. “They couldn’t generate anything down the left, which is what they prefer. So we really kept them over to the right where they were much more uncomfortable. She did a great job out there for us.”
Easton junior Riley McDonald, who scored both of her team’s goals, finished the game’s opening goal 10 minutes in after she banked one in off the crossbar as the Rovers took a 1-0 advantage into the half.
Then on Perk Valley’s opening possession of the second half, Hamm corralled a corner insert from Shine and buried it into the back of the cage to even it up at 1-1 just 66 seconds after the break.
“We set a goal to come out and put two (scores) into the net during the second half,” said Shine. “So when we scored the first one that quick, it really built up our energy. It definitely showed us that we could do it, we just needed to push for it.”
McDonald struck again for Easton four minutes after Hamm’s equalizer, but the Vikings kept pushing the envelope on the offensive end.
Senior Gabby Martina evened it up from the top of the circle, sending a dart over the keeper’s right shoulder and into the cage to tie it up at 2-2 with 17:19 remaining.
A few minutes later, Easton scored what looked to be the go-ahead goal with 7:40 remaining, but a shot by Walsh was deemed too high into the cage and waved off by the officials.
Five minutes later, Wuerstle deked her way past a couple of Easton defenders and flicked an aerial into the back of the cage from the left side for the game-winning goal.
“There were a lot of defenders there waiting once I had the ball on my stick,” recalled Wuerstle. “I saw them go down to defend and I just lifted it over them. And it worked.”
Easton put together one final offensive push — the Rovers earning a penalty try as time expired.
After working the ball methodically around the circle, McIntyre wound up and sent one into the cage. But after a brief discussion by the officials, the goal was again ruled too high, ending the game and sending the Perk Valley players into celebration.
“We’re really excited,” said Wuerstle. “We know it’s been a long time since this team made a run at states, so we’re trying to make the most of it.”
The road won’t get any easier from here, as the Vikings will face a Wilson team that’s 20-3 and has only let up 16 goals all year.
“We know them really well, they know us really well,” said Enters. “Hopefully we can dig deep. They’ve got one of the best goalkeepers in the area (Bryn Underwood) and they’re a really, really good team. It’ll be tough.”
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