BUCKTOWN– The Wildcats have come a long way.
A month before the start of its season, Owen J. Roberts was without a coach, without an identity and without a PAC-10 title for the last 14 seasons.
On Thursday night, all of that became a distant memory.
The Wildcats capped off their own undefeated PAC-10 season by winning the league title in a thrilling 11-10 victory over Methacton, etching Owen J. Roberts’ name on the plaque for the first time since 2001.
It’s the first championship for a team not named Boyertown in 11 seasons after the Bears racked up 11 straight conference titles while amassing 154 straight conference victories.
“I’m so proud of every one of these girls,’ said Owen J. Roberts first year head coach Joe Tornetta. “They’ve wanted this and they’ve fought for this since the start of the season. Through all of the grit and the hard times, they’ve showed so much heart.’
Morgan Stone was at the heart of the Wildcat (13-0, 19-1) attack on Thursday. The senior scored a game high six goals, including four in the first half to pace OJR to the victory.
It was a moment she envisioned her team in just two years before.
“Ever since we lost to Boyertown in the PAC-10 final my sophomore season, it’s been a goal of mine to get back to this point,’ she said. “Before the game, I realized this would be the last 50 minutes I’d play on this field. There couldn’t be a better way to end my senior season in the PAC-10.’
Behind Stone, Kerry Huzzard scored twice and added three assists while Maddie Gebert also had two goals to go along with an assist.
The pair hooked up for the game winning goal with just over two and a half minutes left, as Gebert found Huzzard on the left side of the net.
“She and I just waited for our opportunity, and jumped on it,’ said Gebert. “When I saw her flash open, I knew the window was small, but I knew I had to get it there. The rest was all up to her.’
Anna Dempsey rounded out the Wildcat scoring with one goal, while Sara Maute (three saves) and Devon Hennessey (two) combined for five saves in net.
Maute left late in the first half with a right hand injury, giving Hennessey the nod. And the senior didn’t disappoint, as she made a huge save on a shot by Methacton’s Jess McNally with 10 seconds remaining to preserve the win.
“This was the game we’ve all been waiting for as seniors,’ she said. “We’ve worked so hard to get here, and I’m so glad we can finally call ourselves champions.’
Methacton outscored the Wildcats 6-3 in the second half, including four unanswered in the first 10 minutes to get back into contention after trailing by four at the break.
Sara Hughes (one assist) and Daria Lucchesi spearheaded the Warrior attack with three goals apiece while Jackie Cerchio scored twice and had two assists. Deb Peifer and Riley McCarthy each scored once.
In goal, Samantha Rothman made nine saves, including several big stops down the stretch of the second half.
With her team behind by four after the opening half, Methacton head coach Laurie Markle believed it was the small errors that ultimately ended up costing her team.
“We made too many mistakes in the first half and got down in a hole early on,’ Markle said. “If we had started out the same way we did in the second half, this may have been a different result. I am so proud of the girls for fighting back the way they did. They showed how much they wanted it.’
“Methacton wasn’t going to go away, we knew that,’ said Tornetta. “They’re a really strong team, and they can string goals together at any point … we saw it tonight. Our defense started to allow them to settle in, and they capitalized.’
An undefeated season is all well and good, but it means nothing without some hardware to show for it.
With the win, Owen J. capped off its perfect PAC-10 season. The Wildcats’ lone blemish came in a 10-9 non-league loss to Central Bucks West in late April.
“It’s unbelievable how far we’ve come since the start of the season,’ said Gebert. “We didn’t even have a coach a month before the season. We had no idea how we’d come together, how we’d work together. It was totally unpredictable.’
With a starting roster consisting of just one senior starter (Stone), to go along with six sophomores and a freshman, the Wildcats may be the new PAC-10 force to be reckoned with in the coming seasons.
“It’s up to us if we want to get back to this point again next year,’ said Tornetta. “If we stay status quo, other teams will catch up. We’ll need to continue to improve and keep aiming to get better. I think there is a lot this team can accomplish.’
“This is an amazing feeling,’ said Huzzard. “After all of the hard work, the practices and everything we’ve put in, this is perfect. As a team, we need to work even harder to get back here again next year.’
NOTES– Maddie Alderfer added an assist for Methacton. Owen J. Roberts led Methacton in draw controls 13-10.