Devon Kriebel reaches for the ball as the Springfield goalie tries to cover it during play in the opening round of District 1 playoffs last Wednesday.
As if Sandy wasn’t enough, the Upper Perkiomen field hockey team had to take on another hurricane from Villa Maria Academy - again - in the District 1 championship game at Wissahickon on Saturday. Despite an outstanding effort, a disastrous two-minute stretch for the Tribe in the second half was the difference in a 3-1 Villa win.
The Hurricanes thus captured their sixth straight District title. The last non-Villa Maria team to win the district was Upper Perk in 2006 and the Hurricanes (19-1) have exacted their revenge by defeating the Indians in the championship game the last three years.
In this latest edition of the rivalry, the two teams took turns seizing momentum and the tense affair was tied at one with about 12 minutes left when Upper Perk (18-4-1) got the break they were looking for---a corner created by aggressive play from Maddie Fox.
It turned out to be a bad break.
Devon Kriebel inserted the ball to Fox, but the ball bounced away, and the Hurricanes stormed up the field en masse.
“They flew their three attackers high, which put a lot of pressure on [us],” said coach Jamie Warren of Villa’s corner defense. “We only had two players back, but we didn’t think that we were going to lose possession off the penalty corner.”
But that is just what happened and before the Tribe could recover, Megan Parsons had deposited her second goal of the game behind goalie Katie Lederer after a mad scramble in front of the cage to give the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead with 11:02 on the clock.
Less than a minute later, Villa Maria was back knocking at the door again and Upper Perk was called for a deliberate foul in the circle, resulting in a penalty stroke.
Parsons did the honors and completed her hat trick with a hard, high shot over Lederer’s right shoulder with 10:19 left in the game.
Lederer (six saves), who was again outstanding in the goal, was nevertheless disconsolate after the loss.
“I felt like I should have had the stroke, because I had a feeling where she was going,” the senior netminder said.
Lederer kept her team in the game in the first half during a seven minute stretch when the Hurricanes were dominant. She made a right pad stop in close on Megan Murphy, and another save on Caroline Mackrides. Later, Lederer came out about ten yards to muffle a shot on the stick of Parsons.
Sami Stalford and Casey Umstead also made key defensive plays in the circle. Umstead calmly stopped a shot by Mackrides at the goal line behind Lederer to keep the game scoreless.
But, at 7:01, Parsons put in a rebound of a Lederer save for the first goal of the game.
The Tribe bounced back with some pressure of their own and that eventually paid off in a corner with just under one minute to play.
Kriebel sent the ball to Umstead who blasted a shot past Villa goalie Erika Miller and the game was tied 1-1 at the half. It stayed that way until the fateful corner.
“The girls played well. We need to play well for 60 minutes. For all but two minutes we played a great game,” coach Warren said after the game.
The Hurricanes carried an 18-game win streak into the title game and used their depth to keep the pressure on the Indians.
Warren said, “It’s not that there that much of a better team than we are, it’s just the intensity level they bring to the game, and they bring it consistently and they bring it hard.”
“They’re really quick, and they always have strong hits up the field,” Lederer noted.
It was little consolation to the Tribe that they went toe to toe with the best AA program in District 1, and maybe the commonwealth.
“This loss stings,” Warren lamented. “The seniors really wanted to go out with a district title.”