Phoenixville ousts Oc­torara in over­time

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Barry Sankey bsankey@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Bar­rySankey on Twit­ter

PHOENIXVILLE >> While its onegoal lead slipped away with less than four min­utes re­main­ing in reg­u­la­tion, the Phoenixville field hockey team found a way.

Sopho­more for­ward Ameerah Green scored with 5:29 re­main­ing in the first 15-minute over­time pe­riod to pro­pel the host Phan­toms to a 2-1 vic­tory over Oc­torara in the first round of the Dis­trict 1-AA play­offs at Wash­ing­ton Field.

The 14th-seeded Phan­toms, rep­re­sent­ing the Pi­o­neer Ath­letic Con­fer­ence Fron­tier Di­vi­sion, moved on and will travel to play third-seeded West Ch­ester Hen­der­son in the sec­ond round Wed­nes­day at a time to be de­ter­mined.

“It’s good to win our first dis­trict game,” said Green. “We’re happy to win it. We got the ball up the field a lot.”

The 19th-seeded Braves, from the Ches-Mont League Amer­i­can Di­vi­sion, saw their sea­son come to a close with a 7-11 record. Phoenixville, which won its fourth straight con­test, im­proved to 108-1 over­all.

Fresh­man Cas­sidy Stevens gave Phoenixville a 1-0 lead with

a back­hand shot off a strong Phan­tom rush with 15:42 left in the first half.

Oc­torara came on strong in the sec­ond half and kept con­stant pres­sure at the Phoenixville end of the field. Fi­nally, with 3:56 show­ing, ju­nior mid­fielder Paige Lowry scored for the Braves to tie the score at 1.

Phoenixville is a young squad with just two se­niors (Katie Sul­li­van, Erica Sposato). It is also a Phan­tom team which has im­proved im­mea­sur­ably since the be­gin­ning of the sea­son un­der first-year head coach JaJa Ken­twell.

Sopho­more mid­fielder Gabby Her­schell, also a re­turn­ing var­sity player, ex­hib­ited her typ­i­cal strong game in the mid­dle that helped es­tab­lish of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive tac­tics for Phoenixville. Her­schell’s stick­work helped set up Green’s game-win­ning goal at the op­po­site end of the field. Her­schel passed to Sposato, who sent the ball back to Her­schell. Her­schell then passed it to Green on the out­side right seg­ment of the field.

Green used her speed and quick­ness to ma­neu­ver past the Braves’ de­fend­ers to rush the ball to­ward the Oc­torara cage..

“I pulled right and shot it into goal,” said Green.

“It’s good to win with the sopho­mores,” said Her­schell. “We have im­proved so much from the be­gin­ning of the sea­son to now with JaJa as coach. It’s our pass­ing – in­stead of hold­ing the ball, we work as a team. Our team con­nects.”

Oc­torara coach Lau­ren Mor­lando, who is in her sec­ond sea­son with the Braves, said she made some ad­just­ments that helped Oc­torara crank up their play a notch in the sec­ond half.

“We changed our for­ma­tion,” said Mor­lando. “In­stead of hav­ing a sweep, we went with a high for­ward to cre­ate more of­fense.”

The meth­ods helped cre­ate four penalty corner op­por­tu­ni­ties and a goal dur­ing the sec­ond half af­ter a first half in which the Braves lit­tle.

Mor­lando has re­turned home to coach at her alma mater Oc­torara af­ter play­ing four years of col­le­giate field hockey at Ju­ni­ata. The Braves grad­u­ate seven se­niors but they will also be re­turn­ing a solid group of sopho­more and ju­nior play­ers.

Phoenixville con­tin­ued to show im­prove­ment in Ken­twell’s de­but sea­son.

“We don’t have one player who is sup­posed to be our star. So we pass the ball and try to be in the right po­si­tion to pass the ball,” Ken­twell said. “We have im­proved a lot, but we still have things to work on. Props to their work ethic.

“They have been ef­fi­cient with the amount of time we have to work with them. We have had a very good sea­son with or­ga­ni­za­tion. They’ve been on top of it.” NOTES >> Phoenixville ju­nior goal­keeper Tyler Hall made three saves while Oc­torara ju­nior goalie Izzy Heagy made five saves . ... Oc­torara led in cor­ners, 9-5 . ... Her­schell in­serts on the Phan­toms’ cor­ners, and ju­nior mid­fielder Mackie Sheeler does like­wise for the Braves. ... Se­nior cap­tains Emma Carr and Tabby Boohar helped an­chor the Oc­torara de­fense along with ju­nior Me­gan Priddy. The other tri-cap­tain is se­nior for­ward Ha­ley Arns­berger . ... Sopho­more Kyra Traf­ford, ju­nior Becca Lewis, Sul­li­van and sopho­more Han­nah Syrek had some good stops and clear­ing hits for the Phan­toms.

BARRY TAGLIEBER - FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Phoenixville goalie Tyler Hall (60) de­flects a shot as Oc­torara’s Mackie Sheeler, Hope Pep­per­nick and Han­nah Sell­ers pres­sure Mon­day.

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