North Penn boosts district hopes with win over Hatboro-Horsham

HORSHAM >> Twenty-eight field hockey teams make the District 1-AAA tournament. In the latest power rankings, North Penn sat just inside the field at number 27.

So, if the Maidens wanted to secure they would find themselves in the bracket when it is unveiled Thursday, a victory in their visit to Hatboro-Horsham Tuesday night was a must.

“That’s what we talked about a practice is we’ve had our ups and downs this season, and the past is the past. And I said the best thing we can do is put ourselves in the best position is to win tonight,” North Penn coach Shannon McCracken said.

And thanks to an offensive outburst by sophomore Brianna O’Donnell early in the second half, the Maidens did just that. O’Donnell collected a hat trick in just a span of 5:14 after halftime and North Penn held off a late charge by the Hatters to earn a 4-2 Suburban One League Continental Conference win in the regular season finale for both teams.

“We tried out best. We just said we have to win this game,” O’Donnell said. “Let’s just see how we fall. We’re hoping, though.”

Abbie Roberts scored the opening goal for North Penn (9-9-0, 8-6-0 conference), which has won two of its last three after a three-game skid.

“We talked about coming out hard, playing the entire 60 minutes, lot of hustle on the field, leaving everything out on the field,” McCracken said. “And the girls did that tonight. They played a really great game.”

After the Maidens took a 4-0 lead, Syd Rausa and Lizzy Theurer got back into the back of the cage for the Hatters (7-11, 4-9) to make it a two-score contest with  9:52 left. But North Penn limited Hatboro-Horsham’s possession in the later going to cement the win.

“We kind of let up for like five minutes and it was those two or three goals that just got us, on those breakaways,” Rausa said. “I definitely think our intensity at the end, if we play that the full 60 minutes, we would have had a much different output.”

The Hatters were three spots behind NP in the rankings at 30th, but since they came out Monday, Hatboro-Horsham dropped its final two games – Pennridge Monday and the Maidens Tuesday – to effectively dash its playoff hopes.

“I love all of the girls, we got along so well,” said Rausa, one of five seniors honored on Senior Night. “Losing a lot of intense seniors last year, we knew that it was going to be a rebuilding year, but I think we surprised a lot of people with how well we did. And I’m happy with how we played this year.

North Penn, meanwhile, looks like it will get at least one more game in an up-and-down year. The Maidens lost their first four contests then proceeded to win seven of their next eight. After that came a three game losing streak before sandwiching an overtime loss to Souderton with wins over Upper Dublin and Hatboro-Horsham.

“We’re a young team. We’re a real young team,” McCracken said. “Tonight we had four sophomore starters. So, we’re a really young team and we graduated a heavy class last year, so you’re going to have your growing pains throughout the season when you have a young team.

“But they played really well tonight and that’s what we needed was a really strong finish and I’m really proud of them.”

One of those sophomore starters was O’Donnell, who started her scoring burst at 27:34 in the second half by evading a quartet of Hatter defense after a run down the middle of the field for a goal to make it 2-0 Maidens.

“This turf isn’t like ours, so I kept kind of aerial dribbling – picking it up and trying to get around the (defense),” O’Donnell said. “That’s just what I thought was working.”

O’Donnell struck again at 24:28, this time on a corner as Jennifer DeLongis deliver a ball from the right side to the front of the cage, where O’Donnell knocked it in.

O’Donnell completed the hat trick at 22:20, using her speed on the break in the middle to put the Maidens up four.

“Bri’s been that type of player for us all season,” McCracken said. “She is an intense kid that works really hard in the field and goes really hard to the ball. And that is just very contagious to her teammates. So, she helps set a tone for the rest of the team.”

Rausa put the Hatters on the scoreboard, getting some space and delivering a shot that went into the cage at 16:13.

“I saw the ball coming, I looked in and I was like, ‘Alright, we need a goal, I’m just going to hit it,’” Rausa said. “We had a lot of opportunities, too. I definitely thought we were in it, it was just that we couldn’t capitalize.”

Theurer cut the North Penn lead to 4-2 with 9:52 remaining, but Hatboro-Horsham could not find another goal to put even more late pressure of the visitors.

Roberts gave the Maidens the 1-0 lead late in the first half after a corner, with NP working the ball down near the goal and the senior putting it in at 3:42.


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