PAC Field Hockey: Final Four Preview

Two streaks will be put in jeopardy this week as the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s field hockey Final Four playoffs get underway at Upper Perkiomen High School on Tuesday night.

Top-seeded Methacton, unbeaten on the regular season, takes on No. 4-seeded Phoenixville at Tribe Stadium while two-time defending champion and No. 3-seeded Owen J. Roberts faces No. 2 Upper Perkiomen on the back turf in a repeat of last season’s championship.

Both games are set for 6 p.m. at Red Hill.

Here’s a brief look at the Final Four matchups:

No. 1 Methacton vs. No. 4 Phoenixville

Methacton’s Katy Benton (9) sends the ball upfield while Owen J. Roberts’ Julia Lamb (2) defends during Wednesday’s game. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

Records >> Methacton: 10-0 against PAC Liberty opponents (13-0 PAC overall); 18-0 overall. Ranked No. 2 in District One Class AAA power rankings.

Phoenixville: 8-2 against PAC Frontier opponents (9-4 PAC overall); 12-6 overall. Ranked No. 9 in District One Class AA power rankings.

Head-to-head >> The last time these two teams met (Sept. 23 last season), the Warriors posted a 3-0 win while holding the Phantoms without a shot on goal.

Playoff History >> Methacton saw its season end against the runner-ups in the semifinal round of the PAC playoffs last season — a 2-0 loss against Upper Perk. Phoenixville makes its first Final Four appearance since 2015, which ended with a 5-2 loss against eventual runner-up Perkiomen Valley.

On Methacton >> The major question mark entering the season was in the cage — how would Molly Frey fill in the shoes of her graduated sister, Addie? Safe to say the Warriors haven’t missed a beat. Frey and Methacton have posted 11 shutouts on the season and have only allowed 11 goals-against all year. Senior forwards Emily Owens (26 goals, six assists) and Olivia Hoover (22 goals, 16 assists) have proved lethal at the forward positions as the Warriors are averaging just over five goals per game.

On Phoenixville >> Last season, the Phantoms fell victim of the PAC’s new playoff adoption — two division leaders followed by two teams with the best league record. This season, they made sure it wouldn’t happen again. Phoenixville boasts talent in the midfield, especially on the shoulders of Gabby Herschell and Ameerah Green. They enter Tuesday’s matchup red-hot in the midst of a five-game winning streak during which they’re outscoring opponents 34-0.

Prediction >> The Warriors’ offensive power proves just too much, wears down the Phantoms. Methacton 4, Phoenixville 1.

No. 2 Upper Perkiomen vs. No. 3 Owen J. Roberts

Perkiomen Valley keeper Hannah Roerden comes up with a stop during Wednesday’s game against Owen J. Roberts. (Sam Stewart – Digital First Media)

RECORDS >> 10-0 against PAC Frontier opponents (12-1 PAC overall); 16-2 overall. Ranked No. 3 in District One Class AA power rankings.

Owen J. Roberts: 7-3 against PAC Liberty opponents (10-0 PAC overall); 13-5 overall. Ranked No. 7 in District One Class AAA power rankings.

Head-to-Head >> OJR has claimed each of the last two meetings with Upper Perk — 3-1 during the regular season and 2-1 in last season’s PAC championship, during which the Wildcats controlled the tempo the entire second half.

Playoff history >> Two-time defending champ Owen J. Roberts has been in the championship round in each of the past three seasons. The Wildcats posted a 2-1 decision over Upper Perk last season and a 3-1 win over Perk Valley in 2015. That avenged a 3-1 loss against PV in the 2015 PAC Final. Prior to their setback against OJR in last year’s championship, Upper Perk fell to the Wildcats 4-0 in the semifinals in 2015.

On Upper Perkiomen >> You want balance? Look no further than Upper Perk. The Tribe can virtually score at ease as they average nearly seven goals per game. At the forefront of it is Hope Flack with 21 goals while Abriana Gatto, AiYi Young, Colleen Creneti and Liz Fox have been major contributors.

On Owen J. Roberts >> All third-year head coach Amy Hoffman has known is success since taking over the Wildcat program three seasons ago. Now she’s got this year’s squad back in the mix yet again. At the forefront of OJR’s scoring is Bridget Guinan while Cassie Micklesavage has been a commodity in the cage. OJR is outscoring opponents 58-15 with seven shutouts (despite being shutout three times).

Prediction >> A coin-flip. Hard to pick against the two-time defending champs, though. Owen J. Roberts 2, Upper Perkiomen 1, OT.

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