Strategic move at half sends Owen J. Roberts past Garnet Valley, 3-0

BUCKTOWN >> It’s not often one of your best players becomes a mere decoy.

Yet on Thursday night, that became the Wildcats’ plan in the second half.

“At halftime, we decided to run Kuppy (Emilie Kupsov) one way and Caroline (Thompson) the other way,” said Owen J. Roberts head coach Joe Margusity. “We used Kuppy as a decoy, rather than a playmaker. That opened a lot of space for Caroline in the middle of the field.”

The move paid dividends, as Caroline Thompson broke open a scoreless tie in the second half to send the Wildcats past Garnet Valley, 3-0, in the second round of the District 1 Class AAA Tournament at Owen J. Roberts’ Henry J. Bernat Field.

Thompson’s score, off a feed from Danika Swech, came just over seven minutes into the second half.

“In the first half, we weren’t doing a good job linking the forwards and the midfields,” added Margusity. “So we stepped Caroline up high and ran Kuppy off. That created a lot of opportunities for us.”

Also capitalizing on those opportunities in the three-score second half were Mahogany Willis and Morgan Shronk with Thompson and Kupsov assisting, respectively.

Having defeated Garnet Valley 2-1 at the end of the regular season, the Wildcats were prepared for some of the Jaguars’ tendencies.

“We learned a lot from when we faced them a couple weeks ago,” said Thompson. “So we made some changes and tried to take advantage of the things that we saw against them last time.”

One change included Thompson’s shift to finding the open space in the second half.

“They were man-marking Kuppy all night,” said Thompson. “So I was able to find an open spot and put a good shot on goal. It was definitely a good feeling to give us that early lead.”

The goal proved more than enough as Wildcats goalkeeper Kiera McCloud posted two saves in the shutout.

The win sends Owen J. Roberts to a date with PAC-10 foe Spring-Ford on Saturday.

Garnet Valley just couldn’t find a way to cash in on its chances throughout the night.

Just a few moments in, freshman Gia Dragoni knocked a shot off the crossbar. In the 32nd minute, sophomore Kamryn McNeal also knocked a hard shot off the crossbar.

Coming off a big upset win in penalty kicks against Boyertown Tuesday, the Jaguars ran into trouble when senior goalkeeper Ashley Bufano left the game in the seventh minute following a hard collision with an OJR striker.

In her place, sophomore Linda Zamrowski posted two saves in her debut at goalie, keeping it a one-goal game until the 34th minute.

Despite the loss, Jaguar head coach Paul Costa believes his team showed plenty of heart throughout the game.

“Owen J. Roberts, no doubt about it, is one of the premier teams that we always strive to be like,” he said. “Our girls stepped up and played really hard. Unfortunately the result didn’t go our way, but credit to them, they deserved it.”

Costa also weighed in on Zamrowski’s efforts filling in goal.

“She stepped up,” he said. “She rose to the occasion and showed a lot of confidence out there. She, and all of these girls, should be proud of the way they played all season.”

Now the Wildcats shift their focus to Spring-Ford, a team who has had their number in recent years.

With a third matchup of the season approaching, the Wildcats know they’ll need to make some adjustments having lost four of their past five games to the Rams.

“Spring-Ford has been a real competitive game for us,” said Margusity. “They’ve been so good the past couple of years. They probably move the ball better than anybody in our league.

“It will definitely come down to our attack against their defense. So far their defense has won. Hopefully we can change that this time around.”

NOTES >> Bufano made two saves in goal before leaving the game. Both teams were even in shots on goal at six.

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