Sami Stalford breaks away from the New Hope defense as she races towards the goal in last Thursday's quarterfinal round of the District 1 AA tournament played at Upper Perk.
The Upper Perk field hockey team took a huge step towards its goal of making the state playoff round with a surprisingly difficult 3-1 win against unheralded New Hope Solebury in the quarterfinal round of the District 1 AA tournament.
The victory at home last Thursday vaulted the girls into the semifinal round and guaranteed the Tribe (17-3-1) at least two more games since District 1 will send three teams to states.
After earning a first round bye, Upper Perk had a week off after their PAC-10 championship game against Spring-Ford and the Tribe played somewhat tentatively in the first half, but Upper Perk coach Jamie Warren felt that had more to do with their opponent than with rust or complacency.
“I think New Hope had a very strong defense. It seemed like the shot was always on one of their sticks,” she said after the game. “New Hope was tough. It wasn’t an easy win. It took all that we had to get it.”
The Tribe utilized a corner to grab a 1-0 lead 9:14 into the game when Maddie Fox put home the rebound of a Casey Umstead shot that had rattled high off the goal post.
New Hope capitalized on one of its corners late in the half by scoring on a penalty stroke after Umstead, positioned behind goalie Katie Lederer (two saves), stopped a shot by Kailey McCrorey on the goal line. Unfortunately for the Tribe, the ball hit Umstead’s foot.
Lederer got her right pad on Jackie Ignatowitz’s stroke but the ball dribbled across the goal line to knot the score at one.
At halftime, Upper Perk made some adjustments hoping to get more corners against a Lion defense that was packed in front of goalie Maeve Doolan (five saves) and wasting little time sending the ball upfield to disrupt Upper Perk’s attack.
“We needed to get corners to get the circle cleared out to get goals. And then it was important that we executed,” Warren said.
The Tribe did just that to retake the lead 6:30 into the second half on a goal by Sami Stalford. Devon Kriebel inserted the ball to Carrie Nyce who got it to Maddie Fox who sent the ball across the goal mouth.
“I saw the ball coming in from Maddie, and I just knew I had to get my stick in there,” Stalford related.
The goal was a sigh of relief for the Tribe which had picked up its pace at the start of the second half and continued to push the ball at the Lions’ goal and limit the visitor’s scoring chances.
“Their corners were swift,” Warren said. “We didn’t want them getting corners.”
Later in the half, deft passing by Umstead and Stalford along the end line led to another Upper Perk corner. Kreibel inserted to Nyce who gave the ball back to Kreibel who then tapped the ball into the cage for a 3-1 Upper Perk advantage with just under 11 minutes left in the game.
Upper Perk out-cornered New Hope 8-4 in the contest.
“I feel we really utilized [the corners], Kriebel noted. “ It really worked and we put the goals in at the end.”
Upper Perk’s next opponent will be Springfield Montco. The game was supposed to be played Tuesday at Hatboro until Hurricane Sandy intervened. The game has not been rescheduled to date.