Laessig scores twice, North Penn holds off Hatboro-Horsham

TOWAMENCIN — Chances are Senior Day and the regular-season finale for the North Penn field hockey team would be its last home game of the year. However, a 3-1 win over Hatboro-Horsham increases the Maidens chances they capture one more contest in the District 1-AAA playoffs on their home turf.

North Penn and the Hatters came in near locks to be a part of the postseason field, but sitting on the edge of a first-round home game. According to the latest Power Rankings the Maidens (12-6, 10-4 in SOL Continental Conference) were 16th and the Hatters (10-6-1, 7-6-1 in SOL Continental Conference) were 17th overall. The field will eventually be made up of the top 28 teams.

“We knew if we won today we could possibly play at home in the playoffs,’ North Penn senior Amanda Laessig said. “A playoff home game was one of our big goals this season.

The 16 and 17 seeds play each other in the first round Monday. Win that and you have a road game against the top team in the district, which is currently Unionville. They Maidens could not even think about who they play or where they will be Monday. If they did not take care of business against the Hatters, they were going to be taking a bus trip.

“This is an important win for us,’ Maidens coach Shannon McCracken said. “It is really great to have this type of play and intensity on the field. They are playing together right now.’

The Hatters had the same sense of urgency and nobody displayed their determination more than senior goalie Emily Braunewell. She made a few diving stops before the Maidens connected on a corner set piece in the 16th minute. Braunewell made seven saves in the loss. Maidens senior goalie Marissa Elizardo stopped 10 shots.

“We controlled it for the first 10, 15 minutes, but we were not getting our stick on it in the circle,’ Hatters coach Laura Swezey said. “We have to finish. A win would have moved us up a couple spots. We are just have to bring our game to the playoffs. The slate’s clean now.’

Laessig ripped a stroke off Braunewell’s pads and into the back of the cage. Emma Herb added insurance with two minutes remaining in the first half. Laessig had the assist. The insert on the corner from senior Jen DeLongis was flawless all afternoon and Laessig added her second goal within minutes of Hatter Jenna Cutilli finally got her team on the board in the 50th minute.

“Usually our corners are not our strength, but today we capitalized,’ Laessig said. “Jen had really good inserts and we never panicked. Her inserts have gotten so much more harder and accurate over the year.’

It was not the Senior Night game that the Maidens were hoping for — that got rained out Wednesday. But the Maidens could not have asked for a better Senior Day. They carry a five-game winning streak into the postseason and look to make a memorable run.

“It was disappointing not being able to have the full Senior Night experience,’ Laessig said. “Today we came in emotional and upset about last night. But we picked it up half way through the first half and made it okay the game was today.’

“We are playing really great hockey right now,’ McCracken said. “The senior leadership is awesome and I commend them. They are the heart of the team and hopefully we can have a good run.’

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