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Defense shines, seniors score as Plymouth Whitemarsh tops Abington

WHITEMARSH >> When Plymouth Whitemarsh and Abington met earlier this season the Colonials lost a game that they led 1-0 at halftime.

They weren’t going to do it again Monday afternoon.

The Colonials doubled their one-goal lead in the second half and played shut-down defense to pick up a 2-0 Suburban One League American Conference win over the Ghosts at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School.

“That’s not happening again,” Colonials senior Annika Shula said of the halftime message. “We are not letting down. After that game we lost another game (where we led) 1-0 at halftime. We said this trend needs to stop and especially not to the same team, especially not this team when we were tied with them.”

Plymouth Whitemarsh (11-3, 9-2 SOL American) allowed three second-half goals in the Sept. 13 meeting that Abington won, 3-2. This time around, the Colonials barely allowed three scoring opportunities until the final minutes.

“Bella McNew, Ava Schreiber, Kaitlyn Flanagan and Gabby Cooper along with the goalie Devon Skiles,” PW coach Ryan Zehren credited for the defensive success, “if you’ve seen the results of the last so many games, they just shut (the opponent’s) best players down. (Abington) is very dangerous because they don’t have just one good player, they have multiple good players. There was definitely a focus on multiple players and their coach definitely does a good job of changing things up. Our girls had to adjust to that multiple times throughout the game … It was just fantastic that the girls were able to adapt as the game went on.”

“We knew who their best players were,” Shula added. “We shut them down. We made arrangements to man-mark one of the players. It’s just communication — you step, I step — and making sure everybody is marked up and nobody is open and making runs.”

Abington (8-5, 8-3 SOL American) managed four shots on goal in the game and all were turned away by Skiles.

“(PW) out-played us,” Ghosts coach Rich Tompkins said. “They deserved to win. Pretty simple. They beat us to the ball and converted their opportunities. We didn’t.

“The first five minutes we put a ball off the crossbar then fell asleep for a good 60 minutes, 70 minutes. This team — they play well sometimes and they play not-so-well sometimes. I give PW credit. They wanted it more. They went hard. We didn’t go hard. That’s a coaching problem. I have to find an answer and see what happens.”

While the Colonials defense was keeping Abington off the scoreboard, their offense managed two very similar goals.

In the first half, Shula used one touch to get around the last defender before giving her side a 1-0 lead less than 14 minutes into the game.

“I got the ball and saw the opening,” she said. “I saw the goalie coming at me and I was like, ‘I better not hit this over.’ I just hit it in the corner. I was really excited. Scoring against a team like this is a really big deal. I don’t score a lot as a midfielder, so it was really nice. I think it boosted the team a little bit.”

With less than nine minutes remaining in the second half, senior Sam Matthews worked her way through two Abington defenders and put a shot into the back of the net.

Plymouth Whitemarsh is in good position for the District 1-4A playoffs and controls its own destiny for the SOL American title. The Colonials are one game behind Hatboro-Horsham and play the Hatters to close the regular season next week.

“The point behind Hatboro is fantastic,” Zehren said. “We’re not looking towards all that. We have Upper Dublin on Thursday. That’s the bottom line. That’s the focus we have. We play one game at a time. We’re really focused on Upper Dublin right now.”

Abington entered Monday tied with PW for second place, but fell two games behind first-place Hatboro. The Ghosts were No. 24 in District 1-4A, where the top 24 teams qualify for postseason play.

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