WEST GOSHEN — Owen J. Roberts head coach Clarence Jennelle put it as simply as he could following a 2-1 loss to No. 1 seed West Chester Henderson in the District 1-AAA semifinals on Wednesday afternoon — sometimes the odds aren't in your favor.
For 53 minutes the Wildcats kept pace with the undefeated Warriors. That is, until senior captain Katie O'Donnell finally capped off a ferocious offensive attack with seven minutes remaining in the contest.
"I think they outplayed us the first ten minutes,' Jennelle said. "We outplayed them for the next 20. We outplayed most of the rest of the game except for five minutes in between. Then we were pushing the whole way down the last six minutes.'
That five minute stretch is where Henderson made its mark. Facing a potential overtime session, the Warriors offense made a push with twelve minutes remaining in regulation, forcing four corners in that span. With the Wildcats on their heels after Olivia Schwartz's would-be-goal was stuffed by goalkeeper Liz Tamburro, O'Donnell — a Penn State lacrosse recruit — shattered the 1-1 tie.
Collecting a pass from Schwartz, O'Donnell made her way dangerously close to the outside of the circle before finding a small window to rip a shot that rocketed past Tamburro to put the Warriors up to stay.
"It was inside the circle, our offensive line kind of put a lot of pressure on their defense, kind of knocked the ball loose,' O'Donnell said. "(I) got inside the circle (and) got off a hit as quick as we could. With a game that fast-paced, that's a really fast team and a really good team — as soon as you see an opening you have to take it.'
"Two good teams; there is no doubt about that,' Jennelle said. "I wish them luck with where they're headed. We'll do our best with the third-fourth game.'
For Owen J. Roberts, its seeding in the PIAA tournament will rely on how the Wildcats fare in the third-place game against Hatboro-Horsham, a 2-0 loser to Central Bucks South in Wednesday's other semi. A loss could potentially send the Wildcats out to western Pa. for their first-round PIAA matchup.
For Henderson, all eyes now shift toward Central Bucks South.
"Feels pretty cool (to make the district final),' O'Donnell said. "We've never been there before. This feeling is a little bit new. I don't think it's really sunk in yet but it's starting to. We've had a really great season as a team and everyone has been working really well together. It's awesome. This is the cherry on top.
"We keep playing hard, we play to the end of the game. At this point we don't really have anything to lose.'
The Wildcats, who were coming off a quarterfinal victory over Conestoga, were the ones playing as if they had nothing to lose in the early going. After seeing the pace of play become increasingly in favor of the Warriors, OJR struck first within the first 10 minutes of the game. Following an Emma Christman steal deep in Henderson territory, she was able to find Maddie Mullen in the middle of the circle, with Mullen connecting through traffic to give OJR the early 1-0 advantage.
The Warriors answered eight minutes later, when Susannah Pitt netted the equalizer complemented by a nice cross from Madison Lampe and a redirect from Schwartz.
O'Donnell, who played a major hand in setting up the team's first goal, was bottlenecked by the OJR defense early, but her skill set started to shine through in the second half, highlighted by a 60-yard sprint down the length of the field that culminated in a tremendous stick save by Tamburro, followed by the game-winner ten minutes later.
She also turned in the defensive play of the day with four minutes remaining in the contest with a sensational blocked shot off a strike from Lauren Schweppe on a penalty corner.
"With the exception of (Upper Perkiomen star) Casey Umstead, nobody air dribbles,' Jennelle said. "Katie O'Donnell did a really nice job of taking it into a foot away space, rather than just 1-2 and trying to go. When you get somebody that's tall like that that has the length to move, it makes a big difference on what they can do.'
"What we couldn't adapt to is the air ball coming through. If O'Donnell keeps that up they stand a good chance at winning the districts.'
Ally Mooney had five first-half saves before giving way to Tamburro, who finished the second half with two saves. Lauren Schweppe suffered a laceration to the chin as O'Donnell clipped her with the follow through after the second goal. Schweppe changed her No. 7 jersey to 31 and re-entered five minutes later.
Follow Sam Stewart on Twitter @Samuel_Stewart7.