Elizardo, North Penn too much for CB East

DOYLESTOWN — Monday afternoon’s field hockey game between North Penn and Central Bucks High School East was much closer than the final score suggested.

It was a gutsy effort from goalkeeper Marissa Elizardo, and a pair of two-goal scorers that caused the back-and-forth game to end in a lopsided 4-1 advantage for the North Penn Maidens over their conference foes.

Elizardo, a senior and one of the team’s three captains, made 10 saves in the game on 11 total shots. She had saved seven straight to start the game, including five in the first half, before letting up the lone goal midway through second. But by then North Penn had already jumped to a 3-0 lead.

“She came up with some great saves for us, which definitely gave our field players some confidence,’ said NP head coach Shannon McCracken. “That was really big for us today.’

Several of her biggest saves came early in the first half, including two sprawling stops in quick succession during a Patriots’ attack. But the one save that could have altered the course of the game had it not been made came just after CB East scored its only goal.

Patriots forward Maggie Ryder was hit with a long outlet pass that put her in alone on Elizardo. Ryder pulled the trigger with a hard shot toward the left post, but Elizardo made a full-extension dive to knock the ball wide. Had she not saved it, North Penn would have had just a one-goal lead with 15 minutes left and momentum on the Patriots’ side.

“That was really important,’ said Maidens forward Amanda Laessig. “If they were to score we could have lost our intensity, but with that save it pumped us up even more to finish through with the win.’

The help that Elizardo gave Laessig and her teammates was reciprocated.

Laessig, a senior captain, recorded three points in the game—two by goals and one by an assist.

Her first goal came just three minutes into the game, assisted by Casey O’Donnell. O’Donnell sent a hard drive to the center of the circle, and Laessig redirected it into the corner to give the Knights a 1-0 lead.

Laessig scored again seven minutes into the second half, after taking the ball all the way up field and deflecting a shot off the goalkeeper’s pads and into the net.

She also added an assist late in the game to help nail down the 4-1 victory. Laessig found freshman Brianna O’Donnell out in the center of the circle, and O’Donnell was able to chip it in for her second goal of the game.

“(Amanda) made a lot of things happen today,’ McCracken said. “She directs on the field, she communicates on the field well (and) she really fed the ball to her outside forwards well today.’

The other Maidens’ goal — O’Donnell’s first of the game — was scored late in the first half off a scrum in front of the Patriots’ net. The ball was sent in on goal and the CB East goalkeeper appeared to have fallen on it. But the ball popped out, and among a mass of attackers and defenders O’Donnell was able to poke it through to make it a 2-1 game.

The Maidens had six shots on net in the game, and five penalty corners. The chances weren’t by any means plentiful, but they took high-quality shots and it paid off.

“They played a good fight, it was pretty even back and forth,’ Laessig said. “I think we just capitalized a lot in the circle.’

They capitalized on offense and made sure the Patriots did not.

Early in the game, Patriots’ forward Riley Donnelly was getting some prime looks in close to the net and was controlling Central Bucks’ offensive attack. McCracken called a timeout midway through the first half and shifted up the defensive approach to put more pressure on Donnelly, and it worked extremely well.

“She is a strong player,’ McCracken said. “We knew they were going to try to force the ball to her on the inside, so we made sure our middle players paid attention to her in the circle and in midfield as well.’

With the victory, North Penn improves to a 7-5 record, and is now sitting at 6-3 this season during conference games. The Patriots fall to just a game over .500 with a 7-6 record on the season.

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