The 6th 2017 Philafieldhockey Game of the Week poll featured 4 games — all small schools competing in PIAA A or independent school leagues — with Lower Moreland and Plumstead Christian garnering 74% of the vote. The two teams wanted it. The game was to be a rematch between the two Bicentennial League squads who faced off in September, which resulted in a 3-0 victory for the Lower Moreland Lions after a 0-0 half. Lower Moreland was particularly pumped for the game: it was their Senior Night, under the lights, a Play for the Cure game, and another opportunity to hold their 2nd place standing in the BAL Independence Division, poised for district playoffs. The Lions pounced on the Panthers, winning 6-0, knocking in 5 of the goals in the first half.
“We came out very strong and we wanted it!” said senior captain Gianna Venafra. “When we got three pretty quick goals — more than the first time we played them — we were feeling really good.”
Senior midfielder and captain Jamie Mayer had a few more reasons to celebrate : she broke the school record for single-season goals (38) and made a verbal commitment to Ursinus College for field hockey and track earlier in the day.
It was evident early on that it would not be another 2-0 game, as Lower Moreland dominated and scored two goals in less than five minutes and a third before the 23:00 minute mark. Throughout the sixty minutes of play, the Lions demonstrated that solid fundamental hockey wins games. There was very little fancy stick work or backhand play; they executed Y-dodges over spin moves; they moved the ball through the center and up the right; their corners were basic – not particularly deceptive – and they capitalized on three.
The first goal at 27:36 may have been the flashiest part of the game. A hard hit ball from Jamie Mayer from just outside the circle was redirected over heavy traffic to the very top, right corner of the goal by midfilder Venafra. The second goal – just over a minute later at 26:15 – started as a corner, followed by three passes in the circle, a short scramble and a tally by Linda Tang, assisted by Lindsay Graham.
Plumstead entered their offensive circle at 24:18 after a nice passing combination from Rachel Mandia, Grace Worthington, Rachel Koppe and Emily Moore, only to be shut down by the Lions’ steady backfield of Kasey Duffey, Marissa Cuka, and Stevie Goldman who showed poise and power throughout the game, holding the Panthers to two shots on goal. Duffey, Jamie Mayer, Venafra and forward Taryn Mayer consistently worked the ball up the field in offensive transition like a well-oiled machine.
“We’ve been working hard of marking up, staying ball-side and goal-side, and block tackling — just basic things — and that’s playing a huge role in winning,” said Duffey. ”
Jamie Mayer got on the board at 23:33 on a hard shot fired directly from a corner insert. Nothing fancy. Very effective.
Despite the flurry of early goals, Plumstead’s defense and midfield showed resolve. They held the Lions for 18+ minutes, following a time out, before allowing another. Panthers’ goalkeeper Erin Haines recorded ten saves on the game.
“At the time out, we made adjustments for a pyramid rush where everyone rushes, including the goalie and we picked up kids tighter who we knew we had to,” said Plumstead Coach Jessie Brittingham. “It caught them off guard and worked. We were also still making adjustments to their fast field and their stick work.”
Jamie Mayer tallied two more goals the first half – at 5:31 off a corner and again at 2:26, this time after she dribbled thorough four players in the midfield and let off a shot at the top of the circle, catching Plumstead off guard. The halftime buzzer sounded and the board showed a 5-0 game in favor of Lower Moreland.
“It was so amazing that I had the opportunity to have my teammates get the record (for single-season goals),” said Jamie Mayer. “It happened really because of how they back me up and support me.”
The second half showed a more aggressive Plumstead team who recorded both of their shots on goal as well one long ball from Worthington that crossed an empty net, just missing the target. The Panthers’ middies – Rachel Mandia, Chloe Kent and Carmen Gisondi — were more effective at containing the Lions and together with their defense, held their opponent to one second-half goal.
“We came out at halftime knowing we had to make adjustments,” said Plumstead sweeper Lauren Applegate.”Just little tiny things we changed, and we started putting the ball up further to our forward line with bigger hits.”
The Panther’s Mandia added: “I think our communication got a lot better and we were trusting each other, moving the ball back and forth. We didn’t have to run as much because we were relying on our teammates more with passing. Our teamwork was just much better.”
Lower Moreland didn’t find the backboard until the 5:50 mark when Joy Hong redirected a ball into the net , assisted by Jamie Mayer. But it was more than enough already. Lower Moreland advanced to 12-3 with the win and was one step closer to district playoffs.
“We’re trying to take it game by game,” continued Jamie Mayer. “But we really are hoping to make it to States this year. If we take it slow, stay poised, make sure our freshman get touches on the ball, and make sure our weak spots are taken care of we’ll get there.”
“We were obviously very, very pumped up for this game. We were able to start all of our eight seniors and they all played a lot,” said Lower Moreland Head Coach Jess Ashenbrenner.”We’re anxiously awaiting to see who we match up with in the first round of districts. We’re hoping they align with us well and we already know we’ll have home field advantage. We’re just really excited.”
Lower Moreland 6, Plumstead Christian 0
at Lower Moreland
Lower Moreland goals:
Gianna Venafra assised by Jamie Mayer (27:34)
Linda Tang assisted by Lindsay Graham (26:15)
Jamie Mayer (23:33)
Jamie Mayer (5:31)
Jamie Mayer (2:26)
Joy Hong assisted by Jamie Mayer (5:50)
Shots on goal:
Lower Moreland: 16 (11, 5)
Plumstead: 2 (0,2)
Lower Moreland’s Grace Laudenslager: 2
Plumstead’s Erin Haines: 10
CLICK HERE for video highlights of this week’s Game of the Week, presented by SFBN.
More photos by Jake Gallagher will be posted on Philafieldhockey’s Facebook page @philafh tonight.
Note: The photos have been reduced for use on the web. Original photos are available.
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