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Defense helps growing Upper Dublin top Pennridge

UPPER DUBLIN >> Upper Dublin girls lacrosse coach Dee Cross has seen plenty of improvement in her team from game to game.

So it would make sense that the Cardinals would make similar improvements from half to half in a given game. That was exactly what happened when UD hosted Pennridge on a chilly afternoon Friday. After a back-and-forth first half, UD’s backer zone defense tightened up.

While the Cardinals kept their balance on offense, they took the Rams out of theirs and nabbed an 11-9 victory.

“Each game, they’re getting better but we’re throwing them right in there,” Cross said. “This was a very good win for us because Pennridge is always very good and very aggressive. It was the battle of turnovers, so whoever made less would have an advantage. At the end, our defense held and really worked hard.”

Caroline Wall paced Upper Dublin with four goals, Lindsey Schreiber had three and freshman attacker Jackie Rama had two goals and four assists for the winning side. Two of the Cardinals’ senior starters are away on a trip, so they’ve been filling the gaps with different players, but all have been willing to do whatever Cross and her assistants have asked.

Schreiber, a junior midfielder, wasn’t just involved on offense. She had a pivotal late interception on defense and scooped up several ground balls. It was her collection of a ground ball in the first half that led to Schreiber running three-fourths of the field herself and scoring to knot the game 2-2 and get UD going.

Pennridge’s Jen Rodzewich shoots as Upper Dublin’s Allie DeMichele fails to check during their game on Friday, April, 7, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

“Coach Cross pulled us over, we’re still new at playing the backer defense and we all had to make sure we were getting in our spots,” Schreiber said. “Certain players were cutting through the midfield, so we had to stay tight around them. We were reacting to them, but we started to step up and made sure they weren’t even getting into the eight.”

On the other end, the Rams were paced by a six-goal effort from Jen Rodzewich, the senior Temple recruit who seemed to have an answer every time UD built a multi-goal lead. Grace Loughery added two goals and an assist for Pennridge.

Maddie Dachowski had two assists and a goal for the visitors and was also dominant off draw controls, giving Pennridge plenty of possessions right off restarts. Where the Rams ran into trouble was when they tried to run offense, especially in the second half.

“We were just not finding each other on attack, we weren’t connecting and working as one unit,” Rams coach Karen Schnurr said. “Their backer ‘D’ was putting a lot of pressure on us. They played it very well and were unable to break it.”

Schreiber’s second goal put UD up 5-3 with 7:47 left in the first half but Rodzewich responded with two straight scores, both on cuts to the net, to tie the game.

With the Cardinals mix-and-matching positions a little bit, they made a change late in the first half that moved sophomore Becky Browndorf to the back and switched Wall into Browndorf’s midfield spot. Both players are flexible enough to play either spot and Friday was Wall’s day to shine on offense.

Wall scored twice in the final 1:36 of the half, giving the Cardinals a 7-6 edge at the break. On the back end, Browndorf, Elizabeth Barber, Shannon Reape and Allie DeMichele started applying more pressure to set the stage for the second half.

“We were letting them decide where to go,” Schreiber said. “In the second half, we stepped up and pressured on defense so we tightened up and started marking up. We were a little clumsy in the first half but got everything together.”

Upper Dublin’s Ali Breslin prepares to launch a shot past Pennridge’s Avery Camsden during their game on Friday, April, 7, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

Upper Dublin’s defense opened the second half with a big stop, then the Cardinals took the initiative to score the first goal, which Wall put away after a 2-on-1 break after freshman Mack Moore’s outlet pass. The Cardinals peppered Pennridge’s net all game with 22 shots on goal, but Rams goalie Alexa Machado had a superb day, making 11 stops.

“They feed off each other,” Schurr said. “You can tell when we go on a two-goal run, we’re feeding off each other’s energy but also on the flip side, when things go down, we have to get ourselves back out of the slump.”

The Cardinals took a 10-7 lead on Wall’s fourth score with 12:38 left but Rodzewich again responded, putting in two quick goals to make it a one-goal lead with a bit less than 10 minutes to play. Schreiber added a last tally with 5:33 left and the Cardinals leaned on their defense from there.

“We’re really working well together,” Schreiber said. “On offense, we have good cuts and we’re helping each other out with assists. Our defense has been good, we’re working on that backer and it’s only going to get better.”

Both teams missed out on the postseason last year, so getting back is a very defined goal for each of them. For Pennridge, it was their first time playing against a backer defense, so that can only help the Rams going forward. They were right in the game, but know that turnovers, especially a late flurry of them, cost them a chance to win.

Upper Dublin meanwhile has to continue its trend of growing from each game. Schreiber noted that they’re trying to be more efficient with their shots and start turning the high volume of them into more goals.

“What I’m impressed with is how they stick together and it’s the next play,” Cross said. “That’s their motto, if you make a mistake, go on to the next play and don’t dwell on it. They’re starting to believe in themselves and believing they can go on to the next play and get the next one.”

Upper Dublin 11, Pennridge 9
Goals-Assists: UD – Caroline Wall 4-0, Lindsey Schreiber 3-0, Jackie Rama 2-4, Talia Nysch 1-0, Aly Breslin 1-0; P – Jen Brodzewich 6-1, Grace Loughery 2-1, Maddie Dachowski 1-2. Shots: UD – 22, P – 11.

Top Photo: Upper Dublin’s Caroline Wall looks for a way to avoid Pennridge’s Hannah Cressman during their game on April, 7, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

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