BUCKTOWN — A big part of a successful defense is the ability to anticipate what the other team is going to do rather than just reacting to it. Owen J. Roberts did a superb job of that in its 4-0 victory over Spring-Ford in Monday night's Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division match at Wildcat Field South.
The Wildcats constantly stepped in and stole Spring-Ford passes. Not only that, but many of those interceptions created fast breaks the other way that resulted in plenty of good scoring opportunities and a 4-0 win.
Emma Christman scored less than four minutes into the contest and passed to Liz Karcewski for another score late in the half and Maddie Mullen scored twice after the halftime break while the Rams managed just two shots on goal the entire night.
"I think we did a lot of different passing combinations and anticipated balls,' said Christman, who maneuvered in from the right wing for a shot and a score with 26:15 remaining in the first half. "I think we really stepped it up because we knew Spring-Ford was going to be a tough team.'
"And everybody was moving together,' OJR coach Clarence Jannelle added. "And that was a big key. In the earlier games we had a little bit of problems with gaps, and tonight there were no gaps.'
The Wildcats (2-0-1, 3-2-1) scored with 4:52 to go until halftime on a pass from just outside the circle on the right from Christman to Karcewski right out in front of the cage for a quick shot and goal. Meanwhile, the OJR defense was so good throughout the half that the Rams (1-2, 3-3) did not get off their first shot until the final few seconds of the half after gaining their second penalty corner of the night.
"Lauren Schweppe and Ashley Kucera blocked the middle up and Nettie (Montes),' said Jannelle. "We weren't swinging at the players coming in.'
The second half didn't get any better for the visitors as the Wildcats controlled the ball just as well, if not better, while racking up a 9-0 advantage in penalty corners.
One of them ended up in a goal with 21:58 to go when Christman put the ball in play and quick passes resulted in a score by Mullen, with Schweppe earning an assist. Then Mullen scored again with 13:53 left, this time off a pass from Kucera and both teams began to clear their benches.
OJR wound up with a 10-2 margin in shots and a 9-2 lead in corners. Dante Vagnoni made six saves in goal for the Rams and Lizzy Tamburro stopped two shots for the Wildcats.
The score could have been even more one-sided as the hosts missed the goal a few times on fast breaks and Vagnoni came up with some good stops. Many of the opportunites were set up for and by Christman and Karcewski.
"We were looking for little sparks all over the field tonight,' said Christman. "And I think we achieved our goals.'
"They were moving together and anticipating each other and getting the ball to Emma,' said Jannelle. "That's the best game she's played. She anticipated where to go and what move to make and was getting inside.
"Spring-Ford played hard. We just got to the ball quicker. We moved it out to the space, giving us a breakaway down the side just about every time.'
And Christman thinks her team will just be playing harder and harder as the season goes along.
"We have to take one game at a time,' she said. "Our aggressiveness level will be getting better and better.'
On the other side, Spring-Ford coach Jennie Moore thought the outcome was a result of good play by the Wildcats combined with some lapses by her own team.
"You can't win if you don't score,' she said. "They were very good tonight. They passed the ball well and capitalized. We made some critical mistakes in the circle. We're going through a funk right now.'