BUCKTOWN — Joe Tornetta has seen it all in his 25 years as a head coach.
With Owen J. Roberts clinging to a lead that was once eight goals in the second half, Tornetta wasn’t going to allow further damage caused.
Especially against West Chester East, which provide two of the Ches-Mont League’s top scorers in Holly Hager and Shannon Moore.
Hager and Moore just combined for three unanswered goals, bringing that eight-goal lead down to three. With the Wildcats trying to keep their unbeaten start intact, Tornetta called a timeout in hoping to inject new life into his team.
“I just told them to relax,’ Tornetta said. “They just needed to get their heads back in the game. The whole focus of the timeout was for the girls to regain their composure and they did that.’
After the timeout, Maddie Gebert helped Owen J. regain momentum to hold off East’s furious second-half comeback attempt. Gebert scored three of her game-high six goals in the final 11 minutes to give the Wildcats a 15-7 win over the Vikings in a nonleague game at Owen J. Roberts Saturday.
Owen J. Roberts (9-0) extended its winning streak to nine games with the victory. East (5-2) dropped its second straight game after winning its first five to start the season.
The Vikings trailed 8-0 with 24:14 left in the second half. Chances at a comeback seemed very slim at that point, but Hager was determined to turn the blowout into a game.
“We came back from games before and we have the potential to do it,’ Hager said. “They were trying to double me and Shannon, so coach Pepper told us we had to get rid of the ball right away. In the second half, as soon as they came to double, we started to attack and that’s when the goals were coming.’
Hager got East on the board with 22:03 left in the half to make it 8-1. She followed with another goal 33 seconds later to cut Owen J’s lead to 8-2.
After the Vikings won their third straight draw control, Moore finally got on the board with a goal from the free position. Her 25th goal of the year cut the deficit to 8-3 with 20:49 left in the game.
Three goals in 1:14 forced Tornetta to call his first timeout, but it didn’t slow down the frantic charge by East.
Hager scored her third goal of the afternoon in transition to cut the Wildcats lead to 9-4. Moore followed with back-to-back goals to make it 9-6 with 16:14 left. The three-goal deficit was the closest East got to Owen J. since the score was 3-0 at the 12:56 mark of the first half.
“They brought themselves up in that second half,’ said East head coach Marie Pepper. The girls were not happy with their play at halftime. They know they have the ability and are learning how to find it. They knew there was nothing they can’t do that hasn’t been done in the past.’
Gebert’s fourth goal made it 10-6, but Hager responed with a goal to cut the East deficit back to three at 10-7 with 9:28 left.
With Hager playing aggressive in a fight for a loose ball, she was penalized and sent off for two minutes.
Gebert took over from there scoring the next two goals while Hager was in the box to put the Wildcats up 12-7 with 4:05 remaining.
“Watching them score two goals in the box was kind of hard,’ Hager said. “As soon as I got out, I did everything I could to get us back in the game.’
Hager and Moore each finished with four goals in the game. Moore leads East with 28 goals while Hager has 25.
Despite falling for the second straight game, Moore admired the comeback attempt by the Vikings in the second half knowing they could have just called it a day after being down 8-0.
“We scored eight goals in the second half as opposed to none in the first half,’ Moore said. “It showed we were a completely different team in the second half. We have the potential to do it. Hopefully, we can put it all together for next week.’
In his first season coaching Owen J. Roberts, Tornetta has the Wildcats off to their best start in school history. Tornetta coached the previous 24 seasons at Great Valley, winning 398 games and taking the Patriots to deep playoff runs each year.
He’s looking to do the same in Bucktown.
“There’s a lot of work to do,’ Tornetta said. “Getting off to a good start is a good confidence builder, but there’s a lot of games to go. We’re not sneaking up on anyone. People know we can play and we got to go out and do it every game.’
NOTES — Owen J. Roberts won 8-of-9 draw controls in the first half and controlled possession for 21 of the 25 minutes…Kerry Huzzard finished with four goals for the Wildcats.