Rausa, defense get Hatboro-Horsham back on track with win over Wissahickon

LOWER GWYNEDD >> After starting the season 0-2 with an eight-goal loss to Council Rock South, the Hatboro-Horsham field hockey team felt it just needed to string a few good performances together to get back on track.

The Hatters topped Central Bucks South to get back on track, then continued to build confidence on Tuesday with a 5-0 win at host Wissahickon. It was a complete victory for the Hatters, with senior center forward Syd Rausa netting a hat trick and assist while the defense held the Trojans in check.

“This time last week we had just lost 8-0, so winning 5-0 feels a lot better for us,” Rausa said. “It shows we’re improving and on an upward swing.”

A swath of key losses over the past two seasons seemed to hit the Hatters at the start of the season and while there were some stalwarts back, the team had a different look through the first week-plus of the season. Still, there was a belief that things would get back in order given time.

With Rausa leading the attack and backs Brenna Reilly and Kaitlyn Wallace in the back, Hatboro-Horsham had a solid foundation. From there, it was building something that worked on top of it.

“It took a little while for us to finally gel as a team,” Wallace said. “It’s starting to play out with our passing, talking and communicating as a team. We work hard in the practices and it’s showing on the field.”

Rausa staked the visitors to an early lead, scoring with 23:09 left in the first half. Senior Andrea Baldus intercepted a pass deep in Wissahickon’s end and slipped through to Rausa, who put it away for the goal.

Rausa felt getting on the board early helped the Hatters settle in and build momentum through the rest of the half. Heather Timm made it 2-0 with 11:47 left in the half and sophomore Lizzy Theuer made it 3-0 with an impressive goal with just seven seconds left.

Theuer’s goal came after Rausa, who knew there wasn’t much time left, played a hopeful ball into the circle and Theuer got it with her backhand half turned away from the cage.

“Coming off a goal like that, it gives us a lot of momentum,” Rausa said. “Then we were able to take it into the second half.”

On the other end of the field, Wissahickon ran into trouble once it got inside Hatboro-Horsham’s defensive third. A number of Trojan forays fizzled into one or two attackers outnumbered by the Hatters’ backs and backtracking attackers.

“We just weren’t moving well to the ball,” Wiss coach Lucy Gil said. “We kind of let them beat us to the ball almost every single time and that’s what we have to fix and work on. They haven’t done it every game and I’m happy about that but this game, I’m not really sure what was going on.”

Gil has a upperclassman heavy team but she hasn’t seen her team take the field with confidence every game this season. While she has plenty of faith in her players, they need to find it in themselves.

“They’re very much into getting better and they work really, really hard in practices,” Gil said. “They do running on their own, I’m just very pleased with them in the sense of how much work they’re willing to put in. I have no doubt they’re going to get better.”

After the break, Rausa finished off her hat-trick by scoring with 21:49 and 10:05 left in the game. While she wasn’t slumping to start the season, the senior did feel it was time to put her mark on a game.

Putting an overhead shot in from a feed off Gabby Acker’s stick and capping the day by slotting home a rebound off the goalie, Rausa did just that.

“It’s the beginning of the season, I wanted to have a good game and hopefully we can keep it up,” Rausa said. “We want to keep winning.”
As helpful as the offensive breakout was, the team’s defensive effort was equally impressive. Wiss forward Sam Scoma was the Trojan’s best threat in attack, but she had to work hard to even advance the ball.

Hatters keeper Liz Wilburn wasn’t heavily challenged, but she made every save she was asked to. With some veterans on the defense, the unit showed poise Tuesday.

“Communication is the most important thing,” Wallace said. “We were trying to highlight getting on specific players. That was something we were slacking on at the start season so communicating on who’s open, who’s not and telling people where to go was our main goal.”

The forwards and midfield were also dutiful in tracking back to help defend, which Rausa said has also been a big team focus. She and her fellow attackers can be the first line of defense on top of goal scorers and that helps the rest of the team.

Both teams now sit at 2-2 and the Hatters hope the win was all they needed to set themselves up for the rest of the campaign.

“Coming off the big win against South, we’d hadn’t beaten them in years, this win reassures us it wasn’t luck and we’re a good team,” Wallace said.

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