By Dennis Weller of PAC-10Sports.com
For Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/9/14
Eventually, Boyertown’s experience, talent, speed, and determination took over in Thursday night’s Pioneer Athletic Conference girls lacrosse championship match … just as it has for over a decade.
The Bears led upstart Phoenixville by just two goals late in the first half, but went on a tear the rest of the way at Spring-Ford’s Coach McNelly Stadium for a 17-6 win, an 11th straight title, and their 154th consecutive decision against PAC-10 opponents.
Haley Wentzel – one of 12 Boyertown seniors – led the way with six goals, Marie Valenti followed with three scores, and Alex O’Herrick added two goals and three assists for the Bears (15-0, 17-3). Zoe Bullotta scored twice for the Phantoms (9-6, 10-6) and Megan Nemeth put on a stellar display in goal with 16 saves.
“Today was the game we’ve been working for all season,” said Boyertown coach Pam Wernersbach. “Ultimately, it’s mental focus, seniors showing up, and being prepared.”
“I think we played amazing today,” said Wentzel. “Lately, we’ve been focused on keeping our intensity up. We really played our hearts out.”
The Bears – who have not dropped a match versus a PAC-10 opponent since a 12-11 loss to Owen J. Roberts late in the 2004 regular season – led all the way after Rachael Shaw opened the scoring off a pass from Karli Gilbert just 1:06 into the contest. But despite putting a barrage of shots on the Phantom goal, they led by just 5-3 after Kira Landis scored for Phoenixville with 7:32 left in the half.
Then Valenti put in her own rebound after one of 11 first-half saves by Nemeth, Hannah Jaskuta scored off a perfect lead pass from Grace McFadyen, and Wentzel tallied twice … the second with 1:40 remaining in the half on a fast break that began with an O’Herrick interception all the way down at the other end.
O’Herrick (2 goals, 3 assists) took most of the draws and seemed to be all over the field the entire night.
“That’s my position,” she said with a laugh. “We kind of got ahead of ourselves. There were a lot of nerves. But everybody just got really pumped up and came back. We always have slow starts.”
“Their speed in the middle of the field is incredible,” said Phantom coach Senorita Thornton. “We were trying to match their speed.”
Wernersbach thought that the Bears’ determination was a key factor after being stopped by Nemeth on numerous occasions and by posts several other times.
“Ultimately, just perseverance,” she said. “Not worrying about the mistakes we make, and being relentless on defense. Ultimately, something’s got to break down. Their goalie is an outstanding goalie. The attack worked really, really hard to get back the ball and put it in the cage.”
Wentzel wasn’t worried after several of her shots were stopped by Nemeth and another couple clanked off the posts.
“I try not to get too frustrated with that. Posts happen,” she said. “For me, I like playing against goalies like that. It’s a challenge. I have to switch up my shots.”
Boyertown increased its advantage to 10-3 just 39 seconds after the halftime break when O’Herrick scooped up a groundball deep in the defensive end and sped all the way down the field for a goal.
“Alex, Haley, and Marie in the midfield just really worked,” added Wernersbach. “And the rest of the team followed suit.”
Bullotta and Ellie Delany put in back-to-back goals to bring the Phantoms to within 10-5 with 21:29 to go. But Valenti scored on a break and Wentzel scored twice – all in a span of 51 seconds – to start the Bears on a game-clinching seven goal run.
“They were able to run with us and they stayed with us for a while,” said Wernersbach, who got six saves in goal from Katie Buckwalter. “But we wore them down.”
“There weren’t as may turnovers for them as there were for us,” said Thornton. “I think today, Boyertown was fundamentally sound.”
The Phantoms were coming off a 12-11, double-overtime upset of Spring-Ford to reach their first championship match.
“This is a step for the small schools,” Thornton added. “We made it into the finals. Nemeth … she plays awesome. I’m excited because she’s only a junior, so I get her another year.”
Boyertown 17, Phoenixville 6
Zoe Bullotta 2g
Ellie Delany 1g
Kellie Matson 1g
Kira Landis 1g, 2 a
Angela Hayde 1g
Megan Nemeth 16 saves
Haley Wentzel 6g, 1g
Marie Valenti 3g
Alex O’Herrick 2g, 3a
Emma Morgan 2g
Hannah Jaskuta 2g
Rachael Shaw 1g
Dana Siepietowski 1g
Grace McFadyen 1a
Katie Buckwalter 6 saves
Kallie Taylor 1 save
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