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O’Hara can’t keep pace with OJR in PIAA opener

CONSHOHOCKEN — For a team that began play in the PIAA Class 3A field hockey tournament as the fourth seed from District 1, Owen J. Roberts showed just how well it can play the game Tuesday night.

The Wildcats scored two goals in each half and earned a 4-0 decision over District 12 champ Cardinal O’Hara at Villanova University’s field at The Proving Grounds.

With the win, Owen J. Roberts advanced to a quarterfinal matchup Saturday with District 11 champion Emmaus (25-0), which defeated Garnet Valley, 6-2, Tuesday night.

OJR owned big margins over O’Hara in shots (15-2) and penalty corners (14-1) by taking advantage of precision passing, superb stick skills, and a dogged defense that prevented the Lions from getting their only two shots on goal until well into the second half.

“We knew that team had just won its league and district championships,” Owen J. Roberts head coach Amy Hoffman said. “We didn’t know a whole lot of what to expect from them or what to prepare for.

“We just went out and played very well, and the biggest thing for us tonight was our execution.”

O’Hara (14-8) took whatever OJR (20-3) could throw at it for most of the first half, with goalie Gianni Travia making five of her nine saves before halftime. She got help from Sami Randazzo, who swept the ball away on defensive saves once in each half.

Two seconds past the midway point of the opening half, Raina Smolij knocked in a ball that came her way off the stick of Jenna Kirby to open the scoring. Seven minutes later, it was Kirby finishing a play started by Rylee Laloup to set the score at the break at 2-0. OJR goalie Cayden Jarvis did not have to make a save in the first 30 minutes.

The second half was almost 10 minutes old when Rory Cahill added to the Wildcats’ goal total, and Julia Lamb closed out the scoring 16 minutes later with a reverse sweep that was unstoppable.

“They had a great season, and I couldn’t have asked for more, especially in my first season as head coach,” O’Hara’s Jenna Spaeder said. “We had such a fine group of seniors. They were the ones who really helped make this team, and I couldn’t be more proud of them. We did have two freshmen who started for us all season, and we’ve got some great juniors who will be coming back next year.”

Sara Grassi is one of the seniors Spaeder was referring to when she mentioned the leadership her upperclassmen provided. Grassi, who set up the game-winning overtime goal that gave O’Hara its 3-2 win over Archbishop Carroll in the Catholic League final lasts week, was not permitted to play Tuesday because of a concussion she suffered in the matchup with the Patriots.

“That’s a tough thing to have a player like her on the sidelines,” Spaeder said.

Randazzo, Emma Shallow, Marie Kamper, Maeve Boston, Sophia Brown and Rosie DeFeo were among the defenders who had to deal with Owen J. Roberts’ swarming style of attack.

Katie Shallow and Michaela Favazza, who came back from an early season illness to earn her spot in the starting lineup, did what they could to try to put some life in the O’Hara offensive effort.

“We played a lot more really good teams at the beginning of our season to get us ready for game like this,” Favazza said. “We know how much we will miss our seniors, but we hope to come back and keep going in the playoffs next year.

“This was one of best group of girls I’ve had the chance to play on a team with. Hopefully we’ll have something to talk about with our team next year

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