There must have been a full moon on Monday.
How else could you explain the strange happenings in the world of SOL field hockey as the league began its second go-round in conference play?
While Council Rock North was handing Pennsbury its first loss of the season in National Conference play, things went completely wild and whacky in the Continental Conference. Hatboro-Horsham not only handed Souderton its first loss of the season but made a rather clear statement in its 5-0 win over the stunned Indians.
And that was just the beginning of the drama.
Quakertown sent Central Bucks South down to defeat, stunning the Titans 1-0, and Central Bucks East – which has quietly been playing solid field hockey all season – put a damper on North Penn’s title aspirations with its 1-0 win over the visiting Maidens.
In American Conference play, Wisssahickon had its toughest game of the league season, eking out a 3-2 win over Springfield in a game that saw the Spartans battle the Trojans to a 1-1 halftime tie.
Rock North’s 2-1 win over Pennsbury has made the National Conference race a whole lot more interesting. The Falcons (7-1) remain atop the league standings, but Rock North (6-2-1), William Tennent (6-2) and Neshaminy (5-2-1) are all still in the hunt, and don’t count Council Rock South (5-3) out.
“That was a big lift to our team,” Rock North coach Heather Whalin said. “Ever since we had the win against Hatboro, the team has been able to strike quickly and find the back of the cage.
“We scored two quick goals against Pennsbury, and then we were able to hang on. Pennsbury is a great team, and we were really excited about the win. I could not be more proud of the team and how they have really come together!”
The Indians certainly did strike early.
Hannah Plappert (Becky Ely assist) scored at the 27:14 mark of the opening half, and six minutes later Ely scored (Elly Plappert assist) to send Rock North into halftime with a 2-0 lead. The Falcons cut that lead in half with a goal from Jenna Allen (Nikki Cuthbert/Mia Reed assists) at the 23:33 mark of the second half.
For the game, the Indians held an 8-2 advantage in shots with goalie Amanda Krause forced to make just one save. Pennsbury’s Cathy Ritchy turned away six shots.
Quakertown pulled off the upset of the day with its 1-0 win over the defending Continental Conference champion Titans on their home field. Talk about high drama – this was it as Courtney Heverly scored on a corner shot from the top of the circle with 25 seconds remaining in regulation.
“She had a tough direct shot from the top of the circle and nailed it in the right corner,” coach Peach Draper said. “The girls were really excited because their hard work finally paid off.
“C.B. South is a very talented team, and it was a well-fought game. I am very proud of how hard they worked and the perseverance they displayed. They never gave up for one second. We are excited to try and continue the trend against C.B. East on Wednesday at home.”
Central Bucks East used a goal by Brittany Meyer (Megan Starner assist) to defeat North Penn. In a superb outing, East goalie Christina Maida turned away 14 shots in the shutout.
Trojans’ success a team effort – Just when it looked as though no one would be able to give Wissahickon a game in SOL play, along came a gritty Springfield squad that made things interesting before falling 3-2.
Earlier this season, the Trojans defeated the Spartans 4-2, but take Springfield out of the mix, and the Trojans have outscored their American Conference opponents 36-0. The Spartans are another story entirely.
“They come out really strong and really fast,” coach Lucy Gil said. “They were playing a lot faster than we were until we woke up.
“The grass always slows us down, and my girls looked like they were asleep, but Springfield came out really hard. They wanted to win. A little bit of a wake-up call is good for my team.”
The Trojans received a pair of goals from Zoe Kale and a single goal from Lauren Becker. The two teams were deadlocked 1-1 at halftime, but the Trojans went on top 3-1 before Tierney Carraba, who had both of her team’s goals, took it the length of the field for a goal late in the game.
The win upped the Trojans’ record to 10-0.
“I knew we would be really strong this season,” Gil said, noting it has been a team effort. “There’s no one particular player that dominates the field, but every single position is strong.
“I don’t think I have any holes. I’m just really pleased. I’m not building a team around one player. These are all girls that can play.”
The Trojans entered the season with some question marks regarding the goalie position since they lost their starting goalie to a broken foot, but Jess Scannapieco, who was pressed into emergency duty, has answered the call.
“She’s had some amazing saves,” Gil said. “She’s getting better by leaps and bounds.”
Gil has received scoring from 10 different players this season, and she points to the play of her backs – Aubrey Bossert, Colleen Lynch and Jacquelin Coupe - as key in igniting her team at both ends of the field.
“Scoring is coming from all over the place and coming from defenders, which is really nice to see,” the Trojans’ coach said. “Our offense starts with our backs. It’s not like I have some nifty little forwards that can put the ball in the goal cage.
“That’s who really starts up the offense for us. They have been really, really strong for us.”
Gil has been impressed with her team’s ability to maintain its high level of play despite the score.
“I’ve had teams that have played down to whatever level they’re playing against, but this team doesn’t,” she said. “I’m hoping they can also play with the best of them.”
The Trojans are pointing to a big showdown with second place Upper Dublin on Friday and then a tough non-league test at Pennsbury a week later.
“They know when they have to have their game face on,” Gil said. “We’ve been doing a lot of passing back, we’ve been doing a lot of different things, but they know the teams they have to put their game face on for. Upper Dublin will always be one that we do that for.
“You train for those days. I have no idea how good my team is. That Pennsbury game will be very telling because it will take us out of our comfort zone and see what we can do.”
Hatters on the rise – Pity the teams that face Hatboro-Horsham after a loss.
Earlier this season, after the Hatters fell to Souderton 2-1, they came back to humble a then-undefeated North Penn team 4-1.
Last week, the Hatters fell to Council Rock North 2-1 in a non-league contest. They responded to that loss by crushing their next three opponents – Quakertown, Central Bucks West and Souderton – by a combined 18-3 score.
Their most recent win was the most shocking – a 5-0 rout of previously unbeaten Souderton on Monday. Kristen O’Brien (Lauren Purvis assist) broke a scoreless tie with 9:52 remaining in the first half, and that opened the floodgates. Christina Portelli scored back-to-back goals, the first with a Purvis assist and the second with an assist from Caroline Hagan, to send the Hatters into halftime with a 3-0 lead.
In the second half, Kelly McCartin and O’Brien (Cortnee Dalee assist) connected to close out the scoring.
“Everybody is scoring,” coach Marie Schmucker said. “It’s not just Lauren Purvis scoring. My whole team is scoring, which is nice. I have a lot of depth.
“We played with a lot of poise and finesse, and I think we stunned them a little bit. We moved to the ball, we executed on our passing and our shots, the defense played well, and my goalie (Maddy Wagenfeld) played well.
“It was a team effort. The execution was there. Mary Ann (Harris) always has a great team. We played two halves, and that was really important.”
Thirteen players have contributed goals for the high-flying Hatters this season, and while Purvis is the centerpiece for this Hatters’ squad, she is not a one-woman show.
Kelly McCartin, Caroline Hagan and Kasey Gelhaus are key in the midfield. Defensively, the Hatters are anchored by seniors Missy Keller, Sarah Tustin and Shannon Stemmler and sophomore goalie Maddy Wagenfeld. Offensively, Kristen O’Brien, Christina Portelli and Hannah Vogel have come up big.
“It starts from the goalie – it takes a whole team to score a goal and the whole team to prevent a goal,” Schmucker said. “It’s a total team effort.”
The veteran coach is not all that concerned about her team’s losses to Souderton and Rock North.
“It’s better to lose early than later,” Schmucker said. “It gives you a self-check. I think Souderton was a little flat and couldn’t come back, but they’re well coached, and she has some nice players, but that’s hockey.”
The Hatters are 6-1-1 in league play and 8-2-1 overall, and according to Schmucker, this group has been a pleasure to coach.
“They’re determined, they’re driven, and they’re extremely coachable,” the Hatters’ coach said. “Anything the coaching staff tells them – they listen. It’s neat when you have a group of kids that want to be coached – it’s amazing what you can do.
“They’re having a good time, they’re working hard. We’re taking it one day at a time. You can’t look ahead in hockey because anything can happen.”
On Friday, the Hatters will have their annual ‘Play for the Cure’ game when they take on Central Bucks South.
Truman building a program - When Dawn Martesi took over the helm of Truman’s field hockey program two years ago, the program was in a state of disarray.
“I love hockey, and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, this can’t be your high school program,’” she said. “They didn’t have enough girls to fill a jayvee team.
“There was no off-season, there was no indoor. There really was no commitment and structure. They weren’t real competitive.”
Martesi has not only given the program some much-needed stability, she is changing the mindset about the sport.
“We work with the hockey coaches at the middle school, and some of my players go down to help out at the middle school,” the Tigers’ coach said. “Even last year, the girls that were seniors knew they were part of something that was building, and even though they weren’t going to win a lot, they were proud of the fact that they were building.
“It’s really nice to have girls who want Truman to have a competitive field hockey team and be proud of it.”
Martesi, who previously had been the ninth grade coach, teaches special education reading in the middle school. For the past two years, she has been assisted by Robin Whiteley, a physical education teacher in the middle school.
“It’s nice to have two people with the same goals in mind and the same passion for it,” Martesi said.
The Tigers got off to a decidedly rough start this season.
Both of their scheduled non-league games were cancelled, and they had the unenviable task of opening their SOL season against Council Rock South and Rock North. The Tigers were outscored 15-0 in those two games.
“I honestly thought we were going to be a little more competitive, and we started off with the two Rocks, and we were like, ‘Oh, no,’” Martesi said. “After that first week, we knew we were better than this.
“At Truman, we’re building our confidence that we actually are capable of playing hockey in this league, and we have to build on that.”
Things have improved since that shaky start. Last week, the Tigers hung tough in a 2-1 loss to William Tennent. A goal by junior Briley Acker actually gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead before the Panthers rallied for the win.
“I think for the girls the feeling was, ‘We can play too. We can do this,’” Martesi said. “Tennent is a great team, and the girls weren’t sure – were they having a bad day, and I said, ‘No, we’re having a good day.’
“It’s really hard to get in their head that they are capable of playing. I think they felt really good about scoring against Tennent.”
Less than 24 hours after Friday’s Tennent game, the Tigers were back on the field for an 8 a.m. contest against neighboring Bensalem. Sparked by a goal from senior Sam Heil, who is playing hockey for just her second year, the Tigers defeated the Owls 1-0.
The Tigers start four sophomores – Georjenna Gatto, Lindsay Ziegler, Amanda Rambo and Courtney Walton, and a foundation is being laid for the future.
Kiersten Ryan, Mallori Kolar and Matina Wood are the captains of this year’s squad, and Sarah Pote also leads from her position in the goal cage.
“Sarah is extremely mature, she’s committed, and she’s a good goalie,” Martesi said. “Sometimes it doesn’t look like it when you get shot on and shot on, but she’s good.
“She’s a presence in the cage, and when she’s in there, the defense is confident. Everyone falls in line and follows her direction.”
Martesi encourages anyone interested in hockey to come out for the team. This year, Julianne Marino came out for the squad after two years away from the sport.
Amber Vaughn opted to not play last year after starting as a sophomore. This season, Vaughn is in the starting lineup.
In the end, Martesi simply wants her players to enjoy the sport.
“The other day we were playing Pennsbury, and they were stressed,” she said. “I stopped and said, ‘Why did you start playing? Because you love hockey and you have fun. Don’t worry about winning. Just play and have fun.’
“They really did play a lot better. I’ve seen some of these girls grow from little ninth graders to senior leaders. I just love hockey so much, and my assistant is the same way. We just want them to have fun.”
SuburbanOneSports.com’s Fab Five
1. Wissahickon (10-0) (The Trojans survived a tough test against Springfield on Monday and will take on second place Upper Dublin on Friday.)
2. Hatboro-Horsham (8-2-1) (A pair of big games loom on the horizon this week against North Penn and Central Bucks South.)
3. Souderton (8-1-2) (Nobody expected any team to roll through the Continental Conference without a loss. It will be interesting to see how the Indians respond to their first loss of the season.)
4. Pennsbury (8-3) (The Falcons suffered their first loss of the league season on Monday but still remain atop the National Conference standings.)
5. Central Bucks South (7-2-1) (The Titans were stunned by Quakertown on their home field and a huge test awaits when they face Hatboro on Friday.)
William Tennent (9-3) (The Panthers find themselves in the hunt for a National Conference title, but their schedule is a minefield with games against Council Rock North, Pennsbury and Neshaminy in succession over the next 10 days.)
Others to watch: Council Rock North (8-4-1) (After staggering out of the gate, the Indians have officially served notice that they are back and a team to be reckoned with in the second half of the season.) North Penn (7-3-1) (The Maidens endured a tough week that included losses to Central Bucks South and Central Bucks East. They can get well in a hurry with wins over Hatboro and Souderton later this week.) Council Rock South (The Golden Hawks lost a heartbreaker to Tennent but could still get back into the hunt.) Upper Dublin (7-2) (The Flying Cardinals, fresh off an impressive 3-3 tie with Delaware’s number two ranked team – Cape Henlopen, will find out what they’re made of when they take on Springfield and Wissahickon to close out the week.) Springfield (7-3) (The Spartans showed their mettle in a 3-2 loss to undefeated Wissahickon.)