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Plymouth Whitemarsh gets defensive in win over Hatboro-Horsham

WHITEMARSH >> Natalie Lannie took the early initiative, Fiona Gooneratne found Mackenzie Leszczynski late, and the Plymouth Whitemarsh defense came through on a promise.

“We challenged our defense. We think we have the best defense in the conference,” Colonials assistant coach Ryan Kirby said. “And (Hatboro) has a very talented offense. They push a lot of numbers forward. They have some incredible players up top.

“So we challenged our back four and our keeper (Devon Skiles), and they shut out a team that just put up five goals on Abington.”

The Colonials clamped down and earned a 2-0 victory over the Hatters in a Suburban One League American Conference game Tuesday night at PW.

“It’s nice now that we’re in second place and if we beat Wiss on Thursday, then we’ll definitely be a contender for a playoff game at home,” Lannie said.

The Colonials improved to 7-3 in the conference. With defense dominating, Lannie’s goal provided a 1-0 lead six minutes before the break.

“We executed everything we worked on in practice,” she said. “We really focused on keeping the ball on the ground. When we had our chances, we capitalized. The defense played outstanding and really helped save our team. And with our offense and (Leszczynski) leading it, we really killed it.”

Lannie drilled a shot from about 20 yards out to beat keeper Martine Royds with 6 minutes, 51 seconds to go in the first half.

“It was just kind of in the moment,” Lannie said.

After the break, the Hatters (6-1 conference) were able to generate some pressure, but the PW defense held firm and Skiles was there for a few diving saves.

“It was a tremendous effort by Devon, Gabby Cooper, Ava Schreiber, Kaitlyn Flanagan and Isabella McNew,” Kirby said. “This win gets us right back into the thick of things.”

Twelve minutes into the second half, PW scored a key insurance goal when Gooneratne set up Leszczynski to provide a 2-0 lead.

“In the last 10 minutes of the first half, we connected passes really well from the midfield, kept the ball on the ground and didn’t panic, and that’s what we’ve been preaching, so things seem to be coming together for us,” Kirby said. “Credit to (Leszczynski) for finishing that second goal after missing a breakaway in the first half. She kept her composure and really had a great finish on that second goal.”

The Hatters generated some chances but could never quite find the right connection.

“Tonight just wasn’t our night to find the back of the net,” Hatboro coach Kelsey Daley said. “We knew PW is more defensive minded so we changed up our formation to be more offensive and it seemed to work but we just couldn’t finish tonight.

“This is a minor setback for us. My team is very good at bouncing back.”

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