FRANCONIA >> It can sometimes be a high-pressure situation playing between the pipes, and Wissahickon’s Paige Benning embraces it.
“I like being able to work with the defense and see everything at the same time,” the goalie said, “and knowing if you make a big save, it could really turn the team’s attitude around.”
Benning made 15 saves in all on Tuesday evening, and helped push the Trojans to an impressive 13-10 victory over Souderton Area. It was a road trip worth taking.
Said Benning: “We were getting super hyped up on the bus because we knew it was a big game.
“Our offense was a little shaky the past few games but we really pulled it together tonight. We’re running some new stuff so we were really excited to put it into action.”
The Trojans raised their record to 6-3 and may have jumped up into the No. 2 seed for state play-ins. Big Red, also thinking postseason, is now 4-4 on the year.
“They did a nice job trying to take away Becca (Valentine) from us. She’s a great player, but everybody stepped up,” said Trojans coach Greg Beyer, who directed Wiss to third in the state a year ago. “We had a lot of goal scorers, a lot of younger girls stepping up, scoring multiple goals.
“We work it in practice all the time but it’s tough to get into that situation until you’re in a game. A lot of credit to Souderton — they were awesome. They’re a tough team to beat, especially here. We’ve really taken a lot of steps forward as the season has gone on and I’m really happy where we’re trending at heading towards the postseason.”
In the second half of the doubleheader, the high-powered Souderton boys rode to a 22-14 win over the Trojans. Big Red led 11-8 at the half and 13-10 after three, and then — displaying their explosiveness — racked up nine fourth-quarter goals to pull away to the victory.
Many heroes emerged for the Wiss girls in their matchup.
Maura O’Donnell scored a first-quarter goal, as did Maddie Frustaci. Valentine and Bernice Fu scored in the second quarter for the Trojans with Gabby Jones adding a pair and Maddie Johnson contributing a tally, and then Frustaci poured two more in during the third. Frustaci completed a five-goal night in the fourth quarter and Valentine and Johnson each added another to keep the Trojans firmly in front.
“They did a nice job taking away our transitions,” Beyer said of Big Red. “We have a redesigned offense that we started to implement in the second half of the season.
“So they hadn’t really seen it yet but their defense didn’t allow us to do it. So we were kind of audibling and figuring it out as we went. But as the second and third quarters went on, we kind of broke it open, which was good to see.”
At the other end, any time Big Red turned up the heat, Benning was there for a key stop.
“You have to respect the outside shooters – they were shooting great tonight,” she said. “But I’m really excited I could support my team.”
Benning was a stabilizer for Wiss, which was going against a Big Red team that dug in early.
“I was very happy with the first half,” Big Red coach Crystal Armstrong said. “In the second half, I think we were just getting a little flustered.”
Moving forward, the Indians travel to North Penn Thursday while Wiss hits the road for Springfield-Montco.
“I think this is gonna go a long way for them, to see the ball hit the back of the net and know they were contributing big time on offense for the win,” Beyer said of his squad. “I think it will really help them long term.
“We’re excited. We had a great season last year and the seniors want it just as bad. They’re more like, ‘let’s do better.’ They’ve taken that mindset and I challenge them to do that: third is great but it’s not good enough. We want the state championship. They’ve paved the way and the younger girls are really stepping up and falling in place.”