By David Kurtz of PAC-10Sports.com
For Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/13/16
As expected, Owen J. Roberts’ stars shone bright Thursday night.
But it was a lesser known player, junior goalie Claire Hampton, who took center stage as the host Wildcats notched their second straight Pioneer Athletic Conference girls lacrosse championship with a pulsating 9-8 win over stubborn Methacton at Henry J. Bernat Field.
Thrust into the lineup when starting goalie Sara Maute was unable to play because of a concussion, Hampton came up huge, making a pair of magnificent saves in the final 10 seconds to preserve the win.
First, Hampton stoned Alana Cardaci on a breakaway before sealing the deal by turning away Sara Hughes’ hard shot on the resultant rebound as time expired.
“I caught the last one,” said Hampton, who finished with eight saves. “I knew that I couldn’t lose my composure and that I had to play hard until the end.”
The end belonged to the Wildcats’ dynamic scoring duo of Maddie Gebert and Kerry Huzzard. Gebert answered a 4-0 Methacton run with her fourth goal to knot things at 8 with 3:22 left. Then Huzzard found the range for the eventual game-winner with 2:37 remaining.
“Maddie and Kerry did a great job, as you would expect,” said OJR coach Joe Tornetta. “But others contributed. Claire really stepped up at the end. She was in good position.”
The Cats appeared to be in good position from the jump, using a deliberate attack to go up 3-1 at the half with all goals coming off free positions.
It was 7-4 at the 11:07 mark of the second half after Gebert found the back of the net, but that’s when the Warriors started to hit their stride.
Goals in rapid-fire succession by Jackie Cerchio, Deb Peifer, Sara Hughes (Daria Lucchesi assist) and Lauren Hughes (Julie Byrne assist) in a span of 6:21 gave Methacton an 8-7 lead with 3:50 remaining.
But Division I recruits Gebert (Temple) and Huzzard (George Mason) had the final say, along with the unheralded Hampton.
“We panicked a little there, but we were able to regain our composure,” said Huzzard (2 goals). “We have a lot of trust and confidence in each other.”
Methacton coach Laurie Markle, whose club got two goals apiece from Lucchesi, Sara Hughes and Cerchio, was disconsolate following the bitter loss.
“That’s two one-goal losses here to Owen J. Roberts (in the last two championship games),” said Markle, pointing to the obvious home turf advantage for the Wildcats.
The mood was lighter on the OJR sidelines, where Tornetta was savoring the repeat.
“Championship teams face adversity,” said Tornetta. “We were near perfect for three quarters and then we had that lapse. But these girls stayed hungry and here we are standing as champions.”
Owen J. Roberts 9, Methacton 8
Methacton 1 7 – 8
OJ Roberts 3 6 – 9
Daria Lucchesi 2g 1a
Sara Hughes 2g
Jackie Cerchio 2g
Deb Peifer 1g
Julie Byrne 1a
Lauren Hughes 1g
Addie Frey 5 saves
Owen J. Roberts
Maddie Gebert 4g
Kerry Huzzard 2g
Anna Dempsey 2g 1a
Kelsey Kilgallon 1g
Claire Hampton 8 saves
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