NORTHAMPTON – Council Rock South might have entered its District 1 Class AAAA pairing with nearly twice as many wins as Central Bucks East but it was the visiting 11th-seeded Lady Patriots (8-6-5), who dictated the majority of the play throughout most of the contest.
With 50 seconds remaining in regulation and no score in a battle that looked destined for overtime, Hawks senior forward Paige Mikula got on the end of a cross from sophomore Alexandra Jones however and top-shelfed her own rebound for a 1-0 win that sends sixth seeded CR South to the D-1 quarterfinal matchup where it will face No. 3 seed Pennsbury, a 1-0 winner over Downingtown East.
“We stole one today; we honestly did,” said Golden Hawks head coach Nick Heim. “They came out and they set the tone.
“They asserted their style of play on us. They’re very organized, defensively and they forced us to play their style.”
After a first-half that saw neither side exert its will – shots on goal were 1-1 and CB East had the only corner kick and that didn’t come until the 38th minute – the Patriots pressured the CR South goal all but the last three and a half minutes of the playoff.
It was right around then that Hawks forward Keira Flanagan got off a dangerous shot that she tried to tuck just inside the right side post. Pats goalkeeper Kristen Obetz made the stop in time however, keeping zeros up on the scoreboard for both sides.
As the clock ticked down to seconds, Jones won a 50-50 ball in the corner that Mikula was able to convert.
“A lot of us started realizing there was three minutes left and the loser goes home,” explained Mikula. “And nobody wants to go home.
“And this is our field; we don’t let up on our field.
“We did that once this season and that was a really big upset to us.
“We told ourselves, we wouldn’t do that again.
“We did what we had to do and we took as many opportunities as we could.
“The second that we got the ball, we took it to goal.”
Suburban One National League champions, CR South went 10-1-1 in conference play this season, tying only sister school CR North and losing 1-0 to Neshaminy. The Hawks went 5-1 in non-league action, earning victories over Downingtown East, North Penn, Archbishop Wood, Villa Joseph Marie and Hopewell Valley. So it was surprising to see South (16-2-1) struggle against CB East, a team that finished fourth in the SOL Continental Conference.
“It was a struggle for us to get forward and get (scoring) opportunities,” explained Mikula. “The second we are hitting it forward, they are kicking it out, kicking it out.
“That puts our defense under a lot of pressure.
“We try to play a game where we settle the ball and play it to feet. But when the ball is constantly coming at you, our first reaction is to kick the ball up.
“And we’re not used to that so the ball was going all over the place for us.”
CB East senior Katie Bloom was one of those forces in the back for the Lady Pats while classmate Delaney Kennedy dominated much of the play in the midfield.
“They are a good team and they’re well-coached,” added Heim. “Bloom shut down our offense for all but 50 seconds and number 24 (Kennedy) dominated us in the air today; she won every headball.”
The first-round bye earned by the Hawks did more harm than good, Heim thinks. With eight days off, a certain rustiness sets in.
“It’s been over a week since we played and we are so accustomed to playing,” the coach said. “Our last five weeks of the season were all three-game weeks.”
“When you’ve played 15 games in five weeks and you don’t play for eight days, you can get out of your rhythm. Hopefully, we’re past that and back into it.”
For their efforts, CR South will face Pennsbury 2 pm Saturday on the Falcons’ home pitch.
The winner earns a berth in states.
District 1 Class AAAA Tournament
Council Rock South 1, Central Bucks East 0
(Oct. 26 at CR South)
CR SOUTH (16-2-1) 0 1 – 1
CB EAST (8-6-5) 0 0 – 0
GOALS: CRS – Paige Mikula, 80th minute, unassisted; CBE – none.
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