Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/17/09
North Penn’s style of play is predicated on speed and precision.
For the better part of Thursday night’s Suburban One League showdown against Pennridge, the Maidens went away from the style that has earned them a number seven ranking in the latest PIAA Media Lacrosse Rankings.
“We were just playing in a real frantic state tonight,” the Maidens’ coach said after her team had earned a hard-fought 13-9 win. “That’s a tribute to Pennridge. They came out, they were pushing the ball, and it forced us to do some things that we ideally don’t do.”
It looked as if the high-stakes game for the top spot in the Continental Conference was going to come down to the wire.
Until, that is, a 10-minute stretch in the second half that changed everything.
It began innocently enough with a goal by Abbie Hartman at the 16:36 mark and culminated with a Halie Lear score, and just like that, the Maidens had turned a 7-6 deficit into a 13-7 lead.
“I think it was just the momentum,” senior Alyssa Culp said. “We understood what was going on. Once we had a nice play, we kept going to those plays. We realized what was working and what was not. What wasn’t working was us being frantic.
“Once we calmed down, that’s when our goals came.”
Culp contributed three goals and two assists while Hartman had five goals and one assist. Lear added a pair of goals for the Maidens. Roxanne Brown and Jess Roy led the Rams with three goals each while Sam Myers added a pair.
Despite the outcome, Pennridge coach Liz Horan was pleased with her team’s effort.
“Maybe we got a little tired or as the scoreboard started to go in their favor, we got a little down. I’m not really sure what our little lull was about, but they played their hearts out, and that’s what kept us in the game.”
The Rams (2-1 league) came into the game boasting a 9-0 mark while the Maidens (3-0 league) were 7-0, and emotions were running high on both sides.
“They’re undefeated, we’re undefeated, and it’s just that title,” Culp said. “We’re playing like it’s our last game of the year. We want to win; we want to go out undefeated. It’s just a matter of who wants to win more.
“It definitely gives you more motivation when you’re both undefeated.”
For a while, it looked as though determining a winner might be impossible as the two teams – after battling to a 5-5 halftime tie – were still deadlocked after Hartman scored eight minutes into the second half.
Another Hartman goal (Veronica Pickens assist) at the 12:20 mark put the Rams on top 8-7, and they were off and running.
“Abbie was fired up to play, and she came up really big on the offensive end,” Wilus said. “She’s a pure goal scorer, and she did her job tonight.”
A minute later, Pickens connected for the score, and then it was Lear scoring to put the Maidens on top 10-7. Thirty seconds later, Culp’s third goal of the day extended that lead to four, and Wilus pointed to the effort of her senior midfielder as key.
“Alyssa was all over the place today,” Wilus said. “She had three goals and two assists, and they seemed to come at the best times. She’s so composed on the field.
“One thing she does is she listens to what we have to say. Their goalie comes out pretty high on the crease – she’s a good goalie, and she almost acts like a defender, and Alyssa was able to really break that and show the other girls how to move her and shoot in the space.”
According to Culp, the key to the Maidens turnaround was simply a matter of calming down.
“I think we were getting a little too excited,” she said. “We were trying to get our shots off so quick, and we wanted to get (ahead) so fast.
“Really, all we needed to do was settle down, look for the open spaces and play North Penn lacrosse. We just needed to calm down, spread it out and take it in.”
The Maidens weren’t finished yet, and after goals by Danielle Horn and Lear, they led 13-7 with 6:40 remaining. The Rams didn’t go down quietly, connecting for a pair of late goals to make it a 13-9 game with 3:11 remaining.
The Maidens won the ensuing draw, spread the field and maintained control the rest of the way.
“Finally, when we went ahead, we spread them out on defense, and we were able to take them one-on-one and get up and then hold onto the ball,” Wilus said, noting that the Maidens were forced to make halftime adjustments. “I was concerned because I felt we weren’t playing our style of play, forcing things that we normally don’t.
“I don’t think we let the game come to us tonight. I thought this game had more hype than it possibly should have, and it was almost like anxious nerves.”
NORTH PENN 13, PENNRIDGE 9
North Penn 5 8-13
Pennridge 5 4-9
Goals/Assists: NP-Abbie Hartman 5-1, Alyssa Culp 3-2, Halie Lear 2-0, Roni Pickens 1-1, Dani Horn 1-0, Brittany Hanrahan 1-0, Lauren McDermott 0-1. Pennridge-Roxanne Brown 3-0, Jess Roy 3-0, Sam Myers 2-0, Jacquie Burke 1-1, Jen Moyer 0-1.
Shots: NP-22, Pennridge 16.
Saves: Lyndsay Hepler (NP) 7, Eileen Applegate (P) 8.
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