To view game action photos, visit the photo gallery at the following link: http://photos.suburbanonesports.com/
By Alex Frazier
On a gloomy day, punctuated by rain, there was some question whether Neshaminy and William Tennent would face off in an early showdown of National Conference powers.
Redskins’ coach Rich Reice wanted to play because he already had games scheduled Friday and Saturday and didn’t want to play three straight days.
All day the girls were on pin needles.
“This was the game everyone was looking forward to in school,” said junior forward Brianna Hires. “We wanted to play. Everybody was texting the coach.”
The potential delay only pumped the Neshaminy girls even more.
When the decision to play was made, they were ready.
“It was a big game,” said Hires. “We were undefeated and wanted to come out on top.”
Just over five minutes into the game, Hires drew a defender up the middle and passed around her to Jen Hutchinson, who banged the ball off the left post.
“It’s always good to get the first goal in a National Conference game and make the other team have to play catch-up,” said Reice.
Though Tennent rallied to even the score, the Redskins had too much firepower and eventually won the game 3-1 to claim sole possession of first place.
“I thought we played pretty well,” said Reice. “It’s tough to play. The touch gets away from you a little bit sometimes, but I thought it was one of our better efforts. We created some pretty good chances.”
Down 1-0, Tennent nearly tied the score with about 25 minutes left to play in the first half, when Samantha Fox put a head on Brittany Mitchell’s corner kick, but the ball skimmed off the crossbar.
Fox, however, made good on her next opportunity with about three minutes left to play in the half, when she headed a chip from Chelsea Pritchett into the upper left corner.
“Tennent didn’t back down,” said Reice. “They have a nice team; it was a nice goal. Eighteen (Fox) is a handful and 13 (Angelina Liddy) played real well in the midfield for them. She was winning a lot of balls for them.”
Just when the Panthers thought they were back in it, Neshaminy scored with 30 seconds left in the half. Hires racked up her second assist as she fed an open Kelly Boyce at the 12-yard line. Boyce struck the ball into the bottom right corner for a 2-1 lead at the intermission.
“That deflated us,” admitted Tennent coach James Barry. “I think we would have had a bit more drive if we had managed to hold it to 1-1 at the halftime whistle.”
Hires found the net herself early in the second half. With Tennent’s Mitchell down with an injury just outside her own 18, Hires took a pass from Lyndsay Pierson and banged it into the top right corner.
“I didn’t know she was down until everyone was yelling at me. Everybody told me to go, so I went,” she said. “I just took a whack.”
The Panthers picked up the offense in the closing minutes of the game. Neshaminy keeper Chelsea Rota made her only save of the day, and it was a dramatic one. Tennent’s Fox unleashed a rocket of a shot from the right wing, forcing Rota to stretch out and dive to her right to deflect it wide.
“Neshaminy passed the ball a lot better today,” said Barry. “We just didn’t perform. They outworked us all over the field.”
While Neshaminy’s victory over Tennent was a crucial one for the Redskins, they know that there is still a long way to go and that any of four teams might still have shot of winning the conference. Both teams still have two more games to complete the first round of action.
Council Rock North and South both have the potential to derail either team and claim ascendency to the title.
“There are strong teams in our league,” said Barry. “No team is going to go through the season unbeaten. It’s a marathon to get to first place.”
Neshaminy goes to 4-0-1 in the league, while Tennent drops to 4-1.
“Hopefully it will boost our confidence and we come out next game real big,” said Hires.
Speaking of big games, Tennent has to face Council Rock South on Friday. The Golden Hawks tied with Neshaminy.
“We have to rebound,” said Barry. “It’s another very tough game. We need to get ourselves together in practice and move on.”
Neshaminy 3, William Tennent 1
Goals: Jen Hutchinson (N), Samantha Fox (WT), Kelly Boyce (N), Brianna Hires (N)
Assists: Brianna Hires (N) 2, Lyndsay Pierson (N), Chelsea Pritchett (WT)
Shots: William Tennent 5, Neshaminy 18
Saves: Melissa Wasserlieben (WT) 8, Chelsea Rota (N) 1
Corners: William Tennent 3, Neshaminy 3
Fouls: William Tennent 14, Neshaminy 9