RED HILL >> Jamie Warren stressed the importance of defense all season long to her Upper Perkiomen field hockey team.
The Indians certainly heard their coach’s message during their District 1 Class AA playoff matchup against Bishop Shanahan, swarming the Eagles and not allowing a single shot on goal en route to a 5-0 victory and a second straight appearance in the quarterfinals.
“We were focusing on being strong defensively,” said Warren. “I think they were just playing really aggressive tonight and our midfielders and forwards were playing aggressive as well so that made the job a little bit easier.”
The Indians’ offense was led by Hope Flack who had two goals and an assist in the contest.
The scoring was started when Colleen Creneti took a cross-crease pass from Flack and shot it in the back of the cage just under five minutes into the game.
Later in the half, Abriana Gatto took a pass up the right side, made a defender miss and put a shot past Eagles’ goalie Amber Bryan to give Upper Perk a 2-0 lead.
With under three minutes remaining in half, Flack was able to get her first of the game when she shot a rebound attempt past Bryan to give the Indians a 3-0 lead heading into the half.
The Eagles’ offense struggled all night to find opportunities thanks to the defensive effort led by Liz Fox, Autumn Gahman and Morgan Chowns as well as goaltender Alyse Thompson, only managing two corner attempts, but were able to pick things up to start the second half.
After forcing multiple turnovers in the offensive zone, the Eagles’ possessed the ball for a good portion to start the second half, forcing Warren to call a timeout to settle down her team.
“We could have came out stronger in the first half, but we really picked it up in the second,” said Eagles’ captain Kelley Seifried. “I don’t think the scoreboard necessarily reflects the actual game because we hustled the whole way.”
Following the timeout, the Indians’ offense got back on track when Flack scored her second of the game off a feed from AiYi Young.
The final goal was scored by Kaylie Siwy who was able to put a rebound opportunity past Alana Pappas, who started the second half for the Eagles.
Bryan and Pappas combined for eight saves for the Eagles.
The Indians’ offense managed to get 17 corner opportunities during the game, but only managed to score from two occasions, something Warren said her team needs to improve on.
“We’ve been struggling on our corners. We’ve been focusing on having better inserts but it’s all mental,” said Warren.
Upper Perk will take on reigning district champion Merion Mercy, the same team who knocked it out of last year’s district championship hunt, on Friday at Indian Stadium.
“This is when teams play their best,” said Warren. “The more intensity and the more desire they have the better the game is going to be.”
Warren added that she is thrilled that the game will be played at home this year after the Indians lost to Merion Mercy 2-1 at the Proving Grounds in last year’s quarterfinals.
“We worked to get home field advantage all year,” she said.