Phantoms fall to OJR
RED HILL >> The seniors on Owen J. Roberts’ field hockey team know the difference between walking off the field as champions and departing as runnersup.
A season after falling short in its quest for a three-peat, Owen J. Roberts secured a sixth straight trip to the Pioneer Athletic Conference Championship with a 6-0 win over Phoenixville on Tuesday night at Upper Perkiomen’s Indian Stadium.
“Our senior class came out ready and we got the rest of the team to come with us,” said OJR senior defender Natalie Fuertsch. “We wanted to make sure we came out strong, played well and finished.”
With the win, the Wildcats (8-2 PAC Liberty Division; 17-2 overall) advance to face top-seeded and unbeaten Perkiomen Valley — a 3-2 winner over Upper Perkiomen during Tuesday night’s other semifinal — in the championship game back at Upper Perkiomen on Thursday night at 7 p.m.
Having faced Phoenixville (9-1 PAC Frontier; 14-4-1 overall) in a divisional crossover game earlier in the season, sophomore Raina Smolij and her teammates had a good idea of what they were matched up against Tuesday.
“We knew we needed to come out hard and fast,” said Smolij. “They’re a fast team, they have a lot of really quick people all over the field. So we knew we needed to pass the ball well and keep possession throughout the game.”
Just over three minutes into the game, senior Eloise Gebert misdirected a shot off the stick of Smolij and into the back of the cage for the game’s opening score. Then eight minutes later, Fuertsch corralled the insert from sophomore Jenna Kirby at the top of the circle and sent a missile past the keeper to give the Wildcats a quick 2-0 lead.
“I saw some open space, so I thought to myself, ‘I’m gonna finish this,’” recalled Fuertsch of her goal. “That was all I really wanted to do — score that goal and give us an early lead.”
The Wildcats were rolling from there.
Owen J. Roberts kept Phoenixville without a legitimate scoring threat until late in the first half, though the Phantoms’ corner try was quickly dismissed by the Wildcat defense. For the game, OJR held an 18-1 advantage in corners as well as a 30-1 advantage in shots on goal on the way to their eighth shutout of the season.