Owls Down Tigers in Rare Night Game

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BENSALEM – The smile on Anna Kulczycki’s face told the story.
“I love night games,” the Bensalem senior said after the Owls’ 2-0 win over Harry S. Truman on Tuesday night in the football stadium. “They’re just so exciting because all the fans come out, there’s so much support, and everyone is cheering you on.
“It’s your home field, and you want to represent your school. Night games are important to our team.”
Bensalem isn’t playing for a championship, and no one will ever confuse the Owls or their opponent with their more famous National Conference counterparts, but don’t try telling the players from either team that this wasn’t a special night.
It was.
“It’s very special,” Bensalem senior Stephanie Hughes said. “We don’t get many of these night games, and to have one is a really great feeling to have our fans out there in the stands watching us and cheering us on.
“It really pumps us up and motivates us to win.”
It was Hughes (Danielle Dea assist) scoring what turned out to be the game winner at the 27:17 mark of the opening half, and before fans had settled in their seats, the Owls had a 1-0 lead.
“That felt great,” Hughes aid. “The team knew after that we were just going to keep going. We were going to try to keep scoring and work harder. We knew how bad we wanted this.”
Playing on a football field with natural grass was new territory for both teams, but it may have been a bigger adjustment for the Tigers, who play their home games on turf.
“When they came to our field, they weren’t used to turf, and we’re not used to grass,” Truman goalie Sarah Pote said. “It was tough for both teams tonight playing on a field they’re not used to playing on, but it was a hard-fought game. Both teams did a really nice job.”
The Owls took their 1-0 lead into halftime and came out of the intermission on the attack.
Finally, midway through the period, Kulczycki sent a crossing pass that teammate Amanda Morton blasted into the cage, giving the Owls a commanding 2-0 lead.
“It was a good cross,” Kulczycki said. “I got lucky, and Amanda hit it in.”
The Tigers never really threatened the rest of the way as the Owls’ defense held firm, and the Owls had earned a split in their season series with the Tigers.
“This is usually how it works during the season,” Pote said. “They get one and we get one, and it turns out really nice. They’re a nice team, and their coaches are wonderful.”
Pote acknowledged that – despite the improvement of both programs – there is still an absence of respect.
“Both of our programs – a lot of people don’t think very well of our programs,” the Tigers’ goalie said. “We haven’t had a very solid program for a long time, but I have to give credit to (coach) Dawn Martesi and (the assistant coaches) – they’re building our program up, and Bensalem is really stepping their game up.
“Everybody is coming a long way and improving.”
Neither program, according to Pote, inherits players familiar with the sport.
“You start with nothing, and you work your way up,” she said. All you can do is improve.
“Each season we’re tacking on another win. You just have to work your way up. It’s a tough division, a tough league, and this year is unpredictable.”
Unpredictable is the perfect word to describe a season that recently saw Bensalem battle conference leader Pennsbury to a 2-2 tie in a game the Owls led 2-1.
“We were so excited,” Kulczycki said. “We really were hoping to win that game. Pennsbury was a good team, but we had a lead and did really well.
“It wasn’t individuals – we’ve had a problem with that, but that day we came out strong as a team, and we tied them. Sometimes we get scored on, and we fall back, but that didn’t happen. We just kept our heads up.”
If it seems as though it would be a daunting task to face a killer schedule that includes one hockey power after another, guess again.
“It’s tough, but we always want to improve and improve, so we work on the things we need to improve on,” Kulczycki said. “We kind of stick in there.”
“Being in the league we’re in and playing against better teams makes them better,” Bensalem coach Amanda Tu said.
The Owls, who improved to 2-8-1 in league play (5-8-1 overall), are 2-1-1 in their last four games.
“The last few games they’ve really been coming out and playing hard the whole game, and that’s what they needed to do today,” Tu said. “It’s showing by our wins these last two days.
“They’re definitely improving. Every team improves from the beginning, but the girls are actually learning the game more, understanding the game and becoming better players.”
“We have to keep working hard,” Hughes said. “If we want to win and feel good about ourselves, we have to work hard, and that’s what we continue to do in practices and games, and it shows.”
Tu went on to laud her team’s positive approach to the game.
“They don’t get down,” she said. “They come to practices, they know what they need to work on, and they work hard at practice. It’s starting to show now.
“After all these years of coaching, this is one of the best teams I’ve coached. They play really hard.”
The end result on Tuesday night was a big win over their archrival.
“It’s the last time I’m playing Truman, and I really wanted to win,” Kulczycki said. “In my head, I knew we had to win.
“It’s the last time I’m going to face them. I knew we could do it as long as we came out strong as a team and played our hardest. That’s what it takes.”
The Tigers, who beat the Owls 1-0 in an early season meeting, saw their league mark fall to 1-10 (3-10-1 overall).
“It’s a fun night,” coach Dawn Martesi said. “It’s nice to play night games and see all the emotion for both teams. They came out ready to go from the beginning. It took us a while to get ourselves in there.
“Regardless of the field, we still need to do what we know how to do and do it well. We need to learn to adjust more quickly and be aggressive and do all the things we know how to do.”
Harry S. Truman                0              0-0
Bensalem            1              1-2
Goals/Assists: Bensalem – Stephanie Hughes 1-0, Amanda Morton 1-0. Anna Kulczycki 0-1, Danielle Dea 0-1.
Shot-HST 3, Bensalem 12
Corners: HST 3, Bensalem 10
Saves: Sarah Pote (HST) 10, Chelsea Jenkins (B) 3.