Lady Indian Anna Duemler defends a slap against a Merion Mercy player during play in the District I AA playoff game at Upper Perk last Thursday.
Emily Rodenberger, Sami Stalford and Casey Umstead led the way as the Upper Perkiomen field hockey team came from behind to defeat Merion Mercy 3-1 in a quarterfinal PIAA District I AA playoff game on Tribe Field Thursday.
Rodenberger, one of two seniors on the Indian squad, and now a participant in districts for all four of her years, was instrumental in taking the momentum away from Merion (10-8). The visitors, seeded sixth in the district, had taken control of the game immediately and pinned the Tribe in their own end from the opening whistle.
“Merion Mercy was very aggressive,” said Upper Perk coach Jamie Warren. “They sent three or four girls at the ball.”
The relentless pressure paid off in a goal by Monica O’Hara at three and half minutes in to stake the Golden Bears to a 1-0 lead. Then the visitors stayed on the attack for a few more minutes, just missing another goal on a barely-wide shot by Erica DiPascale.
Gradually, Rodenberger and Sami Stalford used their speed and stick handling abilities to finally tilt the field in Upper Perk’s favor.
“We were ready, but we weren’t that ready,” Rodenberger said accounting for the Tribe’s slow start. “Once we had control of the ball going down to our circle, we felt more confident.”
“I think Sami and Emily kind of led the charge getting [the ball] in,” said Warren, “and then getting that sequence of corners which we eventually got the first goal off of.”
In the space of three and half minutes, Upper Perk was awarded four corners and finally capitalized when Casey Umstead inserted a pass to Carrie Nyce who ripped home the tying goal from the top of the circle with 9:32 to go until halftime.
“The first half was pretty evenly matched,” Warren said. “The second half, right from the start we determined we were going to be the aggressor and get the next goal, which we did.”
“In the second half we had a lot more intensity,” said Anna Duemler, who scored the go-ahead goal.
Rodenberger did most of the work in setting up Duemler’s tally with 18:29 left in the game. Rodenberger sped down the right side, eluding several defenders before penetrating the circle and slipping a pass across the goal path to Duemler. The sophomore made her shot count for a 2-1 lead.
But the desperate Golden Bears then ramped up their efforts to tie the game and reasserted themselves in the Upper Perk end of the field.
With 15 minutes left, the Tribe’s Devon Kriebel broke up a dangerous Merion rush, but the play led to a corner.
Umstead then made the defensive play of the game, making an outstanding stop on a ball by Lizzy Slack that had gotten past goalkeeper Katey Lederer (11 saves) and clearing the ball out of harm’s way.
Later in the period it was also Umstead who inserted another pass to Nyce whose blast from the top of the circle was tipped home by Stalford with 3:29 left and the Tribe (12-6-1) was home free.
The win guaranteed the Tribe at least two more games (one of which was played on Tuesday against Gwynedd Mercy) as they continue their quest to get to states for the second straight year.
Losing in the first round of the PAC-10 playoffs stung the girls and they hope to continue use that loss to Perkiomen Valley as motivation.
“We all just wanted to come out and kick some butt,” said Duemler.