Abrahams plays hero, Wisshickon tops Upper Dublin in OT

LOWER GWYNEDD >> Talia Abrahams turned and sprinted away from the goal and toward the fence lining the track.

Once she got there, her black headband disappeared as every one of her teammates swarmed her, all of them jumping and yelling in joy. Somewhere in that mass of celebration was a senior who had just delivered her team a needed and satisfying win.

Abrahams’ goal just 19 seconds into overtime handed Wissahickon a 1-0 win over visiting Upper Dublin under the lights on a chilled Monday night.

It was a game full of twists, turns, runs and missed opportunities from both sides. Both teams were frustrated going into overtime, but that soon evaporated for the home side when Abrahams put away a rebound to win it.

“The past three years, every time we’ve played Upper Dublin, it’s been a close game and every time we’ve lost or tied,” Trojans junior co-captain Maddie Elwell said. “This time, it was important that we send the seniors off in the correct way because we owed it to them after all they put into this season. This was a way to reassure that we are all that we say that we are.”

The loss prevented Upper Dublin from clinching the Suburban One League American Conference title, but the Cardinals carry a three-point lead (34 to 31) over Wiss into Wednesday night in good position to seal it up. Upper Dublin’s forward unit was inventive all night, but the finishing wasn’t there.

Freshman Elizabeth Lawton was especially active at the head of the formation while flanks Becca Watson and Tori Hoffner and midfielder Paige Lawton used their speed to great effect. But even with all the runs, Wissahickon’s back line covered well and the Cards were left frustrated by their lack of goals.

“We feel it was a fairly evenly-matched game and we had a number of chances we’d like to have again,” UD coach John Topper said. “We’ve talked about it through the year when you let games go that late in overtime and the legs are tired, a goal like that might be the difference.”

Wissahickon’s effort was carried by Elwell and her remarkable ability to weave through a defense with the ball on her foot. Like their counterparts on the other side of the field, Wiss attackers Mady Foglia and Krysta Memis were also frustrated when their opportunities were denied.

While the forwards were responsible for some of their own frustrations, the defenses of both sides held up well as the game ebbed and flowed with each team making pushes.

Elwell was influential in the middle of the park and on set pieces but UD’s defense did well to take away her options with speedy central defender Devon Magarity stepping in to break up plenty of plays. In response, every run out by a Cardinals forward was met by a hard charging Wiss back, often Mary Matthews or Kirsten Haney, getting in the way of a clear shot.

“Our backs are absolutely amazing, they’re so fast and they work extremely hard,” Wiss senior goalkeeper and co-captain Keanna Haney said. “They don’t get enough credit.”

“And Keanna also works hard and has big saves,” Elwell interjected. “She’s daring and takes risks.”

Both teams entered the night in the District 1-AAA playoff conversation, though the result really helped Wissahickon, which came in No. 28.

For a while though, it didn’t quite seem like a goal was ever going to come for either side. For every Elwell run or Lawton burst of speed, there was a shot off target or a defensive play to subdue it.

“We have some trouble shooting and sometimes finishing,” senior co-captain Mady Foglia said. “We know we have to get one in the back of the net. We were really motivated to win because it was our senior night and we were really pumped up. Even after we missed a shot, we just wanted to get more shots off.”

Upper Dublin had a terrific chance early in the second half when Watson played a great ball to Hoffner, who couldn’t put a clean shot away. Wiss countered that when Memis took a good rip that UD keeper Katherine McKee blocked and a defender cleared the rebound.

“At times they were combining very well and we were putting our strikers and wide players in good position to score,” Topper said. “We weren’t putting away our chances. It is frustrating because you always look back and want a bunch of those chances back. But at the end of the day, we still have one more league game and a chance to win the league.”

The Trojans seemed to have momentum going into the start of OT and they jumped on it with the opening tap. After getting into the final third, the ball went back out to junior Emily Vervlied who cracked a high-arching ball that carried toward the net.

McKee was able to palm it down but it bounced away into the path of Abrahams, who collectedly fired it back into the net and set off the celebration.
The victory was the result over a quality team that Wissahickon had been searching for.

“It boosts our self-esteem up because we know when we play good teams like Upper Dublin, we can come out on top,” Elwell said. “Losing to other teams doesn’t mean as much know as long as we know we still have our potential.”

“It proves it’s about the way we go into games in that we have the potential to do it, we just have to go out and do it,” Foglia said.

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