Central Bucks West pulls out win over Hatboro-Horsham

HORSHAM — Usually, the last person a goalie wants to see is the person who just scored the game-winning goal on them.

But when that scorer happens to be a close friend, things change a little bit. Add in a bit of playful banter leading up to the game and by then it’s pretty much a requirement to meet up postgame.

Such was the case for CB West’s Cadera Smith and Hatboro-Horsham’s Emily Braunewell Tuesday night. Smith was the hero, scoring a goal with 1:26 left to beat her friend and the rest of the Hatters 2-1.

“We were talking each other up before the game,” Smith said. “I was saying ‘we’re going to win, I’m going to score on you,’ and she was saying ‘I’m going to take you out.’”

That the winner came so late was fitting for a tight game that saw great efforts from both sides. CB West was more potent from the run of play, putting up nine shots to five for Hatboro-Horsham, but the hosts had an advantage on set pieces with a 8-2 edge in penalty corners.

While each side got a full-team effort, oddly enough each of the three goals was unassisted. But that didn’t stop Bucks coach Courtney Hughes from praising her whole unit.

“Very gutty,” Hughes said. “I told the kids, if that doesn’t prove we’re more than one player, I don’t know what does. They played together, faced adversity together and came out on top together, so it was huge.”

The loss was a disappointing one for Hatboro-Horsham, which put forth a valiant effort only to come up short.

“They played their hearts out,” Hatters assistant coach Lauren Gaffney said. “They played so hard the entire game. It’s just unlucky.”

It didn’t take long for things to get rolling. Just 33 seconds in, CBW forward Taylor Mason and her neon green headband fired a shot that Braunewell parried.

The Hatters roared back, with forward Abby Rusnak having two tries snuffed out by Brianna Deangelis. Mason had another shot saved at the 20:32 mark and combined well with Smith and Brynn Boylan throughout the game.

Boylan was the first to dent the scoreboard, getting into the circle and using a nice cutback to free up for the shot with 18:36 left in the first half.

“We have a lot of speed and we use our speed,” Hughes said. “We’re more of a breakout offense. Cadera kind of embodies that, so we try to use that breakout speed and toward the end of the game, we were doing a much better job of possession.”

It took about seven and a half minutes, but the Hatters put themselves back on level footing. Forward Cyd Rausa, who was a menace all night, worked herself into the circle and beat Deangelis for the tying score.

The first penalty corner wasn’t awarded until 5:38 remained in the first half, but the Hatters managed to rip off five of them over that span to the end of the half. Rusnak generated one totally by hustle, racing to the endline to get a call with 1:26 left in the frame.

But each time, the Bucks were ready, led by their goalie. Before each corner, Deangelis barked orders then smacked her stick off a leg pad before setting up inside the cage.

“Our defense was awesome,” Hughes said. “Bri, our goalie, had a great game today. She stepped up, came out and worked hard and showed what that step-up looked like.”

Hughes also singled out the play of defensive central midfielder Marissa Ward, who drew the tall task of shadowing Casey Swezey. Swezey, a University of Delaware commit in field hockey, was still a presence in the game, but had to work to even complete a pass.

On the occasions where CB West did go through the middle, the Bucks kept running into a wall. Hatters defensive mid Jenna Cutilli was everywhere defensively in front of Keeley Henry and Brenna Reilley, as well as playing the fulcrum on Hatboro-Horsham’s corners.

“We did a nice job of pushing them to the outsides,” Gaffney said. “We worked a lot on doing that.”

As the game wore on, Smith became more and more active, especially down the left side. While the speedster was able to move the ball, she had to do so with at least one Hatter shadowing every step.

“She’s going to keep pressing,” Hughes said. “She’s so skilled and she’s not going to stop. She’s going to keep working until she gets it done and she especially picked up the slack when we had no one there. She was worth two people for a long time there.”

The Hatters had a prime opportunity with 2:26 left when Kelsy Hopkins dribbled in from the left and took an angled shot along the endline that Deangelis was able to parry out. CB West was able to clear and Smith carried the ball down the field.

A couple of passes later, the forward found herself with the ball right in front of net. Smith did a half-turn and fired, the ball taking an odd path and somehow slithered between Braunewell’s legs and into the cage.

“I closed my eyes,” Smith said. “It just kind of happened. I got the ball, I pulled it and it was really a lucky and I’m very surprised the goalie didn’t save it.”

Smith said she was surprised because of the caliber of keeper that Braunewell is and that she admires her friend’s talents “so much.”

Hughes hoped that grinding out a win like Tuesday’s would be confidence boosted for her team going forward. Her hero seemed to think it would be.

“We really came together as a team,” Smith said. “We were missing our center forward for most of the night, but that really helped us push through because know we know that we can do it.”


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