Final 4 field hockey: OJR, PV use shutouts to earn spots in championship match

RED HILL – Owen J. Roberts is looking for a three-peat. Perkiomen Valley has its eye on redemption.

That will be the story line when the two Pioneer Athletic Conference field hockey titans square off for the championship Thursday night at Upper Perkiomen at 7 p.m.

The Liberty Division champion Wildcats earned a shot at their third straight title with a 6-0 blanking of Pope John Paul II in one of the Final Four semifinals Tuesday, while the Vikings advanced with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over host and Frontier Division champion Upper Perkiomen.

Corinne Mattia and Heather Morris delivered two goals apiece for OJR, which improved to 17-2 after an unbeaten 13-0 sprint through the PAC-10 regular season.

The Wildcats drew first blood when Mattia deflected Morris’ corner shot into the net in the third minute, and expanded the lead to 2-0 when Jen Schweppe picked up a loose ball in front of cage and slipped it home with 8:26 left in the first half.

It stayed 2-0 until Mattia scored off a corner with 16:00 remaining. Morris added her two goals and Amanda Fuertsch also found the range as OJR poured it on in the final 15 minutes.

The Wildcats, who got 2 assists from Mattia and one from Morris and Fuertsch, ruled the stat sheet – posting a shot advantage of 27-3 and a corner edge of 22-3.

Marley Golato was phenomenal in net for the Golden Panthers (7-7) with 22 saves. OJR keeper Allie Mooney came up with three stops – all in the second half.

“We were on a mission to once again be in the PAC-10 final,” OJR coach Clarence Jennelle said.

The Vikings were also on a mission Tuesday – to get another shot at their nemesis.

Junior Sarah Roos collected both goals and Audree Bonavita came up with 10 saves to get the No. 2 seeds from the Liberty Division to the finals.

PV grabbed a 1-0 lead at the 19:24 mark of the first half when Roos scored off a deflection of Chandler Geise’s penalty corner shot. It stayed that way with Bonavita and defender Jules Carfagno – a Division I La Salle recruit - shutting off all avenues to the net.

Upper Perk, the Frontier Division champs, dominated play in the early stages of the second half, getting several corner opportunities and appearing to have tied the contest. But an apparent goal was disallowed when the officials ruled the shot entered the cage above the board on the initial strike.

Apparently elevated by the call, the Vikings added to their lead when Roos converted a rebound at the 18:11 mark. The play began with Geise taking a pass from Natalie Marsh and throwing a strike to Courtney McKay in the box, whose tip attempt was gathered in by Roos and deposited in the cage for a 2-0 lead.

“We were clearly pumped up,” PV coach Erik Enters said of the insurance goal. “Our intensity level rose and we could taste a trip to the championship game.”

Casey Umstead and the Indians (11-6-1) kept up the heat, but a red card left UP shorthanded for 5 minutes and slowed the comeback effort. Strong defense by Deidra Smith and Rachel Hamm and Natalie Marsh’s ball control enabled the Vikings to close out the win.

“Freshman Annie Himsworth had an amazing night on the right wing, too, showing fabulous stick work and dominating play all night,” said Enters. “Her ability to control the play deep on the right side of the field helped keep Upper Perk penned up in their end for long stretches and created numerous scoring chances for her teammates.”

The biggest chance will come Thursday, when PV gets another shot at the Wildcats, who won the two regular-season meetings 5-1 and 5-0.

Katey Lederer finished with 11 saves for Upper Perk, which posted a 7-5 edge in corners but was outshot 13-10.