LINFIELD >> For the Perkiomen Valley field hockey team, the starting weeks of the 2017 season will be all about getting up to speed.
The Vikings, hosting their home opener on the carpet turf at the Training Center’s Joe Neuber Field in Linfield, came away with a rain-soaked 4-1 loss against two-time defending Pioneer Athletic Conference champ Owen J. Roberts on Wednesday afternoon.
The result sends OJR to 1-1 overall (1-0 PAC) fresh off their season opening loss against Palmyra last Saturday while Perk Valley (1-1 overall) drops to 0-1 in the PAC for the third straight year.
“I think we sort of took things for granted because we’ve been playing well to start the year,” said Perk Valley head coach Erik Enters of the loss. “There were a couple bad breaks for us here and there.”
Bad breaks, for sure. A couple miscues here and there, of course. That’s given this early in the season.
However, it’s a fair trade in exchange for the conditions they’d battled in years past. On Wednesday, the Vikings certainly didn’t have to face the occasional gopher holes and divots they’d grown accustomed to while playing in the outfield of the Perk Valley High School baseball stadium.
Perk Valley finished 2-7 in games played on turf and 7-1-1 on grass last season.
Gabby Martina was beside herself after the game, even despite the loss. After spending the last two seasons playing on the grass at PV, she looked plenty comfortable on the turf.
“It’s like a whole other level,” she said. “I was that one girl that always hated playing on grass and so playing on this turf is like heaven to me. It’s so nice to play on, so smooth. I think it will help all of the girls understand the game and develop the skills.”
From the start, it was advantage Owen J. Roberts. The Wildcats, who have called their turf field home since 2001, controlled the possession through the majority of the first half while capitalizing on two goals in the span of 47 seconds late in the half.
Senior forward Riley Hansen lit up the scoreboard first. After Hansen placed the inset on OJR’s corner try, the ball bounced around the circle before Maddi Koury found her planted on the left side of the cage at 6:54.
Shortly after, the OJR defense forced a turnover which led to sophomore forward Julia Lamb finding junior Bridget Gallagher in front of the cage to make it a two-goal game just like that at 6:07.
“As a team, we were really hyped up coming into the season,” said Hansen, who finished with a goal and an assist. “It’s really helpful that we all know how to pick each other up and how to get things going. I think those two goals were a good way for us to get things going.”
Lamb finished with the game’s final goal to go along with two assists while Jenna Kirby capped a second-half corner try with a goal. Cassie Mickelsavage came up with four saves in the cage, beaten only 10 minutes into the second half when Martina put a spin move on her defender atop the circle then found Emma Haas in front of the cage to make it 3-1.
Carrying the target as the two-time defending league champions, OJR head coach Amy Hoffman says the Wildcats are bringing with them a refreshed approach each time they take the field.
“We’re focused on getting better as we go,” she said. “The girls are working pretty hard — they’re putting a lot of time in and watching the film on their mistakes. They’re making all the changes they need to make.
“This is definitely a good way for us to start out this season.”
When these two teams meet again down the late stretch of the season back at OJR, the Wildcats could find themselves up against a much more experienced, balanced team back on their own home turf.
It’ll be up to the Vikings to get the ball rolling.
NOTES >> Perk Valley’s Hannah Roerden came up with six saves in goal while Taylor Hamm made three defensive saves.