Dock

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - SPORTS -

ons get to the post­sea­son, where they’ll try to break a multi-year hex of not ad­vanc­ing to the state tour­na­ment.

Two sea­sons ago, Lower More­land was more re­liant on a spe­cific few play­ers, which was fine given the abil­i­ties of those play­ers. But once that se­nior class, which in­cluded cur­rent Hart­ford Hawk Brid­gette Alexan­der, grad­u­ated, the Lions had to adapt.

Last year was a learn­ing process with­out a tar­get player like Alexan­der, who is the pro­gram’s all-time scor­ing leader. Once Kil­roy took over this sea­son, he wanted to con­tinue to build on the all-as-one ap­proach.

“This year I feel like we’re play­ing more as a team and it shows,” Lions ju­nior Al­li­son As­mann said. “We’re not tar­get­ing one or two play­ers, we want every player on the field to be equal.”

As­mann got the scor­ing go­ing for Lower More­land with a ter­rific in­di­vid­ual ef­fort, mak­ing a long run through the mid­field and fin­ish­ing with com­po­sure in the box. The Lions led 2-0 at half with sopho­more Ni­cole Cas­tor pro­vid­ing the other strike, but they had plenty of other chances.

Another thing the Lions have ex­celled at this year is pour­ing it on in the sec­ond half and Lower More­land did just that on Thurs­day, scor­ing four times af­ter the break. Mid­fielder Gianna Penecale led the charge with a brace, both goals com­ing on well-hit balls from the top of the box.

Re­becca Scoll scored on a shot from in­side the box and Paige Malpezzi wrapped the scor­ing for LM on a penalty kick. Four of the six goals were set up by great move­ment, both on and off the ball.

“Once we got used to not hav­ing Brid­gette on the field, not hav­ing that tar­get type of player, we started mov­ing as a unit,” O’Mal­ley said. “Last year was a year shift­ing into that and this year we’ve got­ten a lot bet­ter at it.”

Dock, which dropped to 5-10, will qual­ify for the Dis­trict I A play­offs but has had its share of bumps this year while field­ing a rel­a­tively young ros­ter. The Pioneers had trou­ble gen­er­at­ing much at­tack in the first half, with se­nior mid­fielder McKen­zie Swart­ley do­ing all she could to get things in mo­tion.

“We have a lot of fresh­men play­ing and try­ing to learn and we’re try­ing to be as pos­i­tive as we can,” Dock coach Ray Hess said. “Credit to Lower More­land, they re­ally played well to­day. Every time there was an open player, they hit that open player. It was hard for us to un­der­stand every player had to be cov­ered to­day, but we did that a lit­tle bit to­day.”

Dock ju­nior keeper Au­drey Sch­weiz­er­hof made five saves on Thurs­day and while she and Swart­ley are ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers, the Pioneers don’t have many other play­ers with that kind of ex­pe­ri­ence around them.

“We’ve seen im­prove­ment,” Hess said. “We’ll be com­pet­i­tive in the A play­offs. We still don’t know where cer­tain peo­ple can play, but you don’t get any bet­ter un­less you play teams like this. You want to play teams like this.”

Lower More­land’s lone loss came to peren­nial state 3A power Villa Joseph Marie and the Lions host CB South next week as they try to test them­selves be­fore the post­sea­son.

As­mann said as the sea­son has gone on, the Lions have got­ten bet­ter at con­nect­ing through the cen­ter mid­field and shift­ing as a team. Ev­ery­thing they do on the field is as a team, whether it’s swing­ing the point of at­tack from side-to-side or press­ing up and track­ing back.

“You have to have that con­fi­dence in the play­ers around you,” As­mann said. “You can’t look down on any play­ers around you, or else that’s how you start go­ing at each other in­stead of work­ing to­gether.”

O’Mal­ley also cred­ited Kil­roy for im­prov­ing the team’s fit­ness level. The Lions did more run­ning and more ar­du­ous drills in pre­sea­son and they feel like it’s paid off as the cal­en­dar turned from Au­gust to Septem­ber to now Oc­to­ber.

The next step for Lower More­land is get­ting the cal­en­dar to turn over one more month by snar­ing one of the dis­trict’s two state play­off spots.

“We’ll have to pick up our in­ten­sity and just pre­pare,” O’Mal­ley said. “The teams we play in play­off are go­ing to be tougher than teams we’ve seen in the league, so men­tally and phys­i­cally, we have to pre­pare for it.”

GENE WALSH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Lower More­land’s Bri­anna Costa bat­tles Dock’s Sammy Sch­mitt for pos­ses­sion of the ball.

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