BUCKTOWN — Regulation and two overtimes weren’t enough to decide a winner Monday night as No. 15 Owen J. Roberts fell to no. 18 Mount Saint Joseph 1-0 in penalty strokes in the opening round of the District I-AAA playoffs at Wildcat South Stadium.
With penalty strokes scored by Margaret Lynch, Taylor Merkle and the clincher by Adriana Pero, the Magic (6-5-1, 11-7-1) outscored the Wildcats (11-4, 13-7) in the shootout 3-1.
“It was almost surreal,’ said Pero, who knocked in the game-winning stroke in the shootout. “It was so amazing and I felt so lucky. I think if we play the way we did today and take advantage of our opportunities in the circle we can beat any team.’
In the game, the Wildcats outshot the Magic 16-3 and led in corners 23-6, but never put together that much-needed scoring play to give themselves the edge.
“We dominated what felt like 90 percent of the game,’ said Owen J. Roberts head coach Clarence Jennelle. “We just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net. We had the advantage in shots and corners, but we couldn’t find a way to capitalize.’
According to Magic head coach Tina Reinprecht, a win in districts says a lot about the players, especially in a game that goes through two overtimes and still has no decision.
“Our girls hung in there the entire time and shut them down,’ she said. “We’ve been able to keep a lot of games close with tough defense and high intensity this season. Moving forward, we’ll need to relieve our defense more and put some points on the board if we want to keep winning.’
The Wildcats had a few chances in the first half, highlighted by a pass from Samantha Garritano to Nettie Montes with some space in net, but the junior had the ball knocked away with just over five minutes left in the half.
In the second half, the Wildcats looked to have found an early spark as Corinne Gerber went on a breakaway just two minutes in, only to have it knocked away by Allison McMullen in goal.
“We had a few good chances to score throughout the game,’ said Gerber. “But we never really had an overwhelming possession. I think that speaks a lot to their defense and how tough they made it to control the ball.’
In the same minute, her sister Courtney Gerber took a pass from Keeley White and fired it just wide of the net.
With 5:06 left in regulation, OJR went a woman-up as Natalie McNamara received a yellow card and a five minute penalty.
Even with an extra woman, the Wildcats couldn’t seize the opportunity.
Ten minutes into the first overtime period, MSJ’s Ava Self fired a bullet toward Amanda Lamb in net, who made the save with her foot and kept it 0-0.
With a corner and no time left on the clock, the Wildcats took control as Garritano passed it to White who fired it just right of the goal.
In the eleventh minute of the second overtime, Magic freshman Grace Wallis took a shot, which was knocked down by Lamb as the two teams went into penalty strokes tied 0-0.
After Lamb saved the first stroke in the shootout, the Magic saw their next three shots hit the back of the cage, putting them past the Wildcats 3-1.
With the win, Mount Saint Joseph will face No. 2 Central Bucks South Wednesday afternoon.
According to Jennelle, the Wildcats have nothing to be ashamed of with their season ending in a double-overtime shootout after beginning the season with just three players who had any varsity experience.
“I’m really proud of how the girls played this entire season, including tonight,’ he said. “We have a few things to work on for next season, including our confidence in ourselves and the team. At this point though, I think we have a very bright future ahead.”
For Reinprecht and Mount Saint Joseph, the Magic will have to rely heavily on their defense again Wednesday as they face Suburban One powerhouse CB South.
“CB South is a very talented team,’ said Reinprecht. “They move very fast and can score a lot of goals. It’s going to be a challenge, but we’ll be prepared and we’re going to give it our best shot.’