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Upper Dublin uses strong 2nd half to beat Upper Merion in SOL American opener

UPPER DUBLIN >> An strong second half by the Upper Dublin girls lacrosse team gave Cardinals first-year coach Lauren Mateja a win over her alma mater and her former high school coach Tuesday afternoon.

Trailing visiting Upper Merion 8-7 at halftime, UD proceeded to rip off five straight goals and collected eight of the second half’s first nine goals to claim a 15-12 victory in the Suburban One League American Conference opener for both teams

“It was little weird, obviously. I learned a lot of lacrosse from (UM coach) Angie (Yanocha) and certainly appreciative of everything I learned as a player at Upper Merion,” said Mateja, who was a standout goalie for the Vikings before graduating in 2009. “I was hoping to be able to play at Upper Merion, it be a nice little win at my alma mater and on my old field, but I’m glad we were able to get it at home, too.”

In a game moved to Upper Dublin’s turf field due to the rain earlier in the day, Jess Grodsky pace the Cardinals (3-3, 1-0 conference) with five goals while Hannah Reape scored four times, including the first two goals of the second half to put UD up for good.

“It was the biggest part of the whole game,” Reape said. We definitely had so much more intensity than them, especially went the game was supposed to be at their field and we have the home field advantage with the turf. They don’t usually play on turf, so I think going at their weakness was the best idea.”

Haley O’Malley had five goals to lead Upper Merion (2-4, 0-1), which erased an 4-1 deficit in the first half with a 7-2 run to hold a 8-6 advantage after Riley O’Malley’s tally with 39.6 seconds left before halftime.

But UD scored the next six and after Riley O’Malley ended the run with a goal at 15:23 in the second half, the Cardinals responded with three more — the last two by Grodsky — for their biggest lead at 15-9.

“Once we started winning the draw, we were going down and scoring pretty easily. So, clearly momentum was in our favor going into the half taking the lead and we just played a sloppy, uncharacteristic second half,” Yanocha said. “I mean, that’s probably the worst half we’ve played all season so far. Sadly to say, I’d hate to have to admit that but had we played the same half obviously the score would have been much different had we played in the first half in the second half.”

Down six with 7:17 remaining, Upper Merion cut the deficit in half with three straight goals, Haley O’Malley’s back-to-back strikes making it 15-12 at 1:32. The Cardinals, however, gained possession on the draw and ran down the clock to seal their second straight victory, having topped Mount St. Joseph 8-6 Monday.

“When we lost to CB East and when we lost to West Chester East there we kind of started to give up a little bit, we really emphasized today staying in it, staying in the moment and constantly playing,” Mateja said. “And just once again, defense buckled down.”

For the Vikings, the loss was the second straight, having been edged by Pope John Paul II 17-16 in overtime Monday.

“It’s always hard losing your home-field advantage also when you were supposed to be scheduled at home then find out last minute that we’re going away, so not that that should be a major game-changer,” Yanocha said. “But anyone will tell you they always appreciate playing on their own home field as opposed to playing away. And now that our conferences have changed, we only play everyone once, so it’s not like you get to play them again.

“But it happens. And we’ve talked about that. That’s one of our goals is to play two solid halves and for the most part we have been that was the one thing I said to them after the game that’s our learning experience. We can’t win games playing one good half.”

Reape pulled Upper Dublin level 1:15 in the second half then drove in from the left side for her fourth goal and a 9-8 lead at 21:14.

“I saw what was open so I went,” Reape said. “I wouldn’t of had it without moving it around first. It was nothing forced.”

Reape connected with Grodsky to make it a two-goal game at 20:08. Paige Lawton added to the advantage with a goal at 19:52 then found Grodsky for a overhand strike at 17:02 for a 12-8 lead.

Riley O’Malley stopped the 5-0 run at 15:23, but Reape assisted on Nancy DeCamara’s tally at 11:58 with Grodsky consecutive goals — the first on a free position shot — putting UD up 15-9 at the 7:17 mark.

The Cardinals dominated possession early, but Upper Merion’s defense kept them off the board until Lindsey Schreiber found the back of the net at 18:45. A Lawton goal at 13:37 had Upper Dublin leading 4-1 but the Vikings found their offense as they began to get control of the ball, tying the game 5-5 on a Haley O’Malley strike at 9:22.

Goals by Molly Weygand and Anna Davis had Upper Merion up 7-5 at 3:20 before Caroline Wall scored off a spin move to cut the margin to one at 1:26. Riley O’Malley put the Vikings back up two in the final minute before Schreiber scored her second at 10.6 seconds to make it 8-7 at halftime.

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