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Hatboro-Horsham tops defending champ Upper Dublin in SOL American opener

Hatboro-Horsham’s Maggie O’Neill battles Upper Dublin’s Alexandra Moss for control of the ball during their game on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

UPPER DUBLIN >> It’s early, but the Hatboro-Horsham girls soccer team picked up a big win Wednesday night.

The Hatters not only went on the road and won, they did it at the home stadium of the defending Suburban One League American Conference champions. A late first half goal and a resolute defensive effort got the job done.

Hatboro-Horsham topped the Cardinals 1-0 in both teams SOL American opener.

“This just makes our confidence go up so much,” Hatters winger Kara Thomas, who provided the winning assist said. “We tried not to think about it and not think where we were.”

Upper Dublin (0-2-0, 0-1-0 SOL American) started off with a dearth of pressure, using the right flank as a basis for its build-ups. Aidan Hopkins forced a save inside the first minute while Emily Booth called Hatters (2-0-0, 1-0-0 SOL American) freshman Martine Royds into a terrific early diving save.

Upper Dublin’s Mia Wright runs hard the the ball near Hatboro-Horsham’s Gabrielle Liott during their game on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

Booth went down with an injury before 10 minutes had expired and Hopkins was injured with a little more than five minutes left in the first half, with neither returning to play.

While the Hatters did start to get forward a bit, Upper Dublin kept knocking. Priya Kaneria forced Royds into a save at the near post and a few moments later, Kaneria had a shot at an open net, a goal averted by a timely block from a recovering defender.

“I have a very good group of girls, they’ve had a rough few years so this is a beginning for all of them,” Hatters coach Kelsey Daley said. “We’re a new coaching staff, we work day in and day out, we were there every day in the heat or the pouring rain of preseason, they showed up every day and worked.”

Hatboro-Horsham found some success with delayed runs and began to work the flanks more as the first half went on. Mads Falcione put in some good runs on the right side while the Hatters’ breakthrough would come on the opposite side.

“We’re combining more, we’re talking more and getting better positioning on the field,” Thomas said. “We’re just working way better together on the field.”

Hatboro-Horsham’s Emily Thomas looks to pass during the Hatters’ game against Upper Dublin on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

Kara Thomas was able to carry the ball up the left flank and made it to the endline before firing a low cross across the box. From a trailing spot, Cam Hughes came on a run to the far post and rifled the ball into the net from inside the six with 6:17 left in the first half.

“Once we got that goal, we knew we wouldn’t lose, we felt so much better about being here,” Thomas said. “We took it more to the outside then tried to bring it in because when we were going down the middle, both their center backs were really fast.”

The Cardinals chased an equalizer in the second half but found themselves on the wrong side of an offside whistle several times early on.

With things not clicking offensively, the Cardinals started to press a bit and went more individual.

“I was pleased with the way we possessed and moved through the center of the field for the first 20-25 minutes then we had some adversity and they got a goal,” UD coach John Topper said. “That happens, but I was not pleased with the way they bounced back after that.”

Upper Dublin’s Tina Haig dribbles between Hatboro Horsham defenders during their game on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media

HH didn’t give the Cardinals anything easy. Midfielder Cam Ryan was a force in the center, pressuring UD’s mids into making rushed decisions or passes while Peighton Toale made a couple great plays defensively.

“We’re too good of a team to go flat like we did at the end of that first half and through the second half,” Topper said. “We had some players out there giving great effort individually but I think we stopped communicating when things went against us and things break down when that happens.”

UD will try to recover on Friday when it faces Cheltenham while HH will try to continue its unbeaten start against Wissahickon.

“We have to realize everyone else has a new team too and has a fresh start, it’s not just us coming back trying to start off strong,” Thomas said.

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