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Field Hockey: Owen J. Roberts vs. Perkiomen Valley District 1-3A championship preview

As the cheers rang out and the Owen J. Roberts field hockey team flocked to the cage with the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship plaque in hand a couple weeks back, Perkiomen Valley head coach Erik Enters’ focus had already shifted as he stood along the sideline.

“Credit to them,” Enters said, pointing to the OJR team following the 3-0 result, Perk Valley’s first and only loss of the season. “They’re the best team out of our league. They came out and they beat us.

“But we want to be the best team out of our entire area. That’s what we’re looking forward to now.”

And now to be the best, Perk Valley will have to beat the best. The Vikings will need to find a way to overcome the only team that’s been able to foil them this entire fall season.

Familiar opponents Perk Valley and Owen J. Roberts will meet in the District One Class AAA championship on Saturday at Methacton High School at 5:30 p.m.

“It certainly helps the girls, to know the team is beatable,” Owen J. Roberts head coach Amy Hoffman said of PV after the Wildcats’ win in the district semifinal round earlier this week. “But we’re not going in there overconfident. The girls are well aware of how we lost the games.

For Owen J. Roberts, a win in the district championship would be their first title since the 2011 season. Perk Valley goes a little further back, their last district championship coming during the 1988 season.

“We took them into the gym at the start of the season and pointed up in the rafters,” said Enters following a win in the district quarterfinal round. “It’s been 30 years. That’s where we want to be.”

Records >> Perkiomen Valley 10-0 PAC Liberty Division, 22-1 overall; Owen J. Roberts 8-2 PAC Liberty Division, 21-2 overall.

Head to Head >> Both teams have combined for only three losses on the season — all three coming at the hands of each other. Both regular season matchups were settled in overtime with Perk Valley claiming a 2-1 win. Saige Steele and Gabby Martina were credited with game-winners in each of those respective wins with Danielle Hamm adding assists on both goals.

Owen J. Roberts got one back with an impressive performance in the PAC championship game. The Wildcat defense buckled down and handed the Vikings their first shutout loss since the 2017 season, highlighted by goalkeeper Cayden Jarvis’ five-save performance, including momentous a stop on a penalty stroke during the first half.

District Fun >> No. 4-seeded Owen J. Roberts has been on a roll since the PAC championship game, running through districts with a couple of shutout wins along the way. OJR opened up districts with a 2-0 win over PAC Liberty foe Spring-Ford, before a 4-1 win over Central Bucks South and a 2-0 upset win over top-seeded Central Bucks East. Since their last loss to Perk Valley (Sept. 27), the Wildcats are 12-0 with 10 shutouts. They’ve outscored the opposition 55-3 during that run.

No. 2 Perk Valley needed a major spark in the waning minutes of the district semifinals. Trailing Liberty foe Methacton by a goal with less than five minutes to go in regulation, Kelly Baitinger and Martina scored in a span of 108 seconds to secure the win. Prior to that scare, the Vikings put together dominant wins over Council Rock South (7-2) and Downingtown East (5-0) along the way at districts.

PAC Together >> Regardless of the result of Saturday’s district final, what an impressive run for the PAC field hockey circuit this fall. Perk Valley, Owen J. Roberts and Methacton (locked up the district’s No. 3 seed) will all advance to the PIAA Class AAA playoffs, which get underway this week. And one can’t help but wonder how Spring-Ford may have fared had the Rams not crossed familiar paths with OJR in the second round.

This year’s state playoffs will feature three PAC teams, the most in any sport since the memorable baseball spring of 2014. That season, Spring-Ford, Boyertown, Methacton and Pope John Paul II (Class AAA) all advanced to the state playoffs.

Prediction >> Owen J. Roberts has played virtually flawless the past five weeks and it’s hard to imagine that will change now. It’ll be a tight one all the way down to the finish. Owen J. Roberts 2, Perkiomen Valley 1.

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