Upper Perk field hockey team captains Casey Umstead, Morgan Aldinger and Maddie Fox raise the PAC-10 Championship plaque the team received for the 3-1 win over the Wildcats.
Call them champions. Finally. Upper Perk’s field hockey team captured the PAC-10 title last Thursday night with a 3-1 win over Owen J. Roberts.
For the dozen seniors on the team, it was the fourth consecutive year in the PAC-10 Final Four, but the first championship game win.
“We worked so hard all our years, never got one, finally got it,” said Casey Umstead who scored two goals in the contest. “We’re just ecstatic! Words can’t even describe how we all feel right now.”
Umstead, who is bound for the University of Connecticut next year, came up big for the Tribe, assisting on the first goal of the game and scoring her 42nd and 43rd goals of the year in the second half with a pair of blistering shots.
Despite intermittent drizzle, the game got off to a crisp start with the Wildcats dominating the first few minutes and getting two corners early. Netminder Hannah Mack, who played an outstanding game, was forced to make a big save early to keep the game scoreless.
Once the Tribe settled down, the offense began applying heavy pressure in the Owen J. circle. Even after an apparent score was disallowed by the officials, Upper Perk did not let up, was awarded a corner, and notched the first goal of the game with just over 19 minutes left in the half.
Sam Dingler inserted the ball to Umstead and then stationed herself at the post where she was in position to tip home Umstead’s blast from the top of the circle for a 1-0 lead.
“It was just what we needed,” Dingler said of her goal. “It got us pumped.”
Upper Perk coach Jamie Warren felt that the goal lifted some of the pressure off her team.
“You want to get the first goal in a playoff game,” she said.
Wildcat goalie Lizzy Tamburo made a great save on Umstead eight minutes later, and the fact that Upper Perk could have been ahead by two or three goals at that point underscored the dominant play of the Indians.
But the second half was a different story. After the break, the Wildcats encamped on Upper Perk’s end of the field and the tying goal seemed like an inevitability.
In the first six minutes, Owen J. was awarded four corners and Mack had to come up with two key saves to preserve the lead. The second save was a diving stop at the post as the junior netminder was able to guide the ball out of bounds.
“Our goalie had a great game,” said Warren. “She held us in there, which was good, because we needed a good game from Hannah tonight.”
The Tribe finally got up the field and made the most of the trip. Umstead carried the ball to the top of the circle and buried a backhand blast into the lower left corner of the goal for a 2-0 lead and a stunning reversal of fortune.
The Wildcats came right back, however, and again set up shop in Upper Perk territory. The Tribe’s defense did a good job of keeping the Wildcats out of the goal area. When Mack, who was aggressive in challenging shooters all night, did need some help, her defense was there.
“I knew I needed to get clears out wide, and I knew I needed to get strong clears,” the junior goalie said. “My defense played awesome. They would get the rebounds off right away.”
The Wildcats finally got on board as the result of one of their 10 second-half corners when Lauren Schweppe set up Madelyn Mullen for a hard shot through the five hole to cut the lead to 2-1 with 5:47 left in the game.
But Umstead snuffed out all hope just 1:09 later, taking Dingler’s insertion on the first Upper Perk corner of the second half and whipping a shot past Ally Mooney to essentially clinch the Tribe’s first PAC-10 championship since 2006.
“She just led,” Warren said of her star. “She used her talent, she used her ability, and she pulled the team together.”