You would think that reaching the semifinals of the district tournament would be enough for a 14th seed, but Hatboro-Horsham had its sights set on a District One Class AAA title after upsetting No. 3 Plymouth-Whitemarsh and No. 6 Downingtown West in previous rounds. However, the Hatters just did not have the firepower to take down defending champion Central Bucks South.
Despite outplaying its opponents for much of the game, Hatboro-Horsham fell to the Titans 2-0. The Hatters saw the majority of possession and held CB South to just four shots, but two of the four found the back of the cage and that was enough to move on to the final.
"I felt that we dominated most of the game. I felt that we played well. We do have the quality, but we are a bit on the younger side,' H-H coach Laura Swezey said. "We have a mixture of seniors and juniors and freshman that have really progressed through the season. They are having fun. It's not fun when you don't win, but we will pull together and get ready for states.'
Hatboro-Horsham appeared to take an "offense is the best defense' approach early in the game. Instead of defending and waiting for a good counter, the Hatters really attacked the CB South defense and turned it into a few solid opportunities. The Titans were a bit sloppy in the beginning, but eventually found their footing and started to attack with a bit more venom just before the midway point of the first half.
Although the Hatters saw a lot of the ball, their forwards lacked the bite needed to score. They won corners and held the ball in the CB South end, but could not bury the final pass. The Titans made them pay for not making the most of opportunities with 17:38 to go, as Megan Hamilton took the ball through the H-H defense and scored to put her team up 1-0. Titans goalie Sarah Zesotarski made a sprawling save to keep the Hatters off the scoreboard with five minutes left and H-H had nothing to show for a very good half.
"It was really exciting, but I don't think we played as well as we could have,' Hamilton said. "It was a good win that took us to the championship game, but we just have to make sure we work harder for the next game.'
The Hatters continued their inspired play in the second half. Although it was more of a back-and-forth contest than the opening 30 minutes, H-H had to feel like it was right in the thick of it throughout the half. H-H's best offensive spell came about eight minutes into the half when it won a few corners and put some pressure on the keeper, but once again could not come up with the scoring stroke.
Hatters' goalie Emily Braunwell made a huge save with 19:20 left to keep the deficit at one, but it was apparent that CB South was slowly starting to take control. The Titans won a pair of corners with about six minutes left, the latter of which found Hamilton, who scored for the second time and sealed their spot in the finals.
"It's hard being on the top and trying not to fall out,' Hamilton said. "I'm really proud of my team for not letting up even though everyone is coming after us. I'm proud of how far we've come.'
While the Hatters would have preferred to play for the district title, the fact that they played well enough to make the state tournament is keeping them upbeat.
"We are looking forward to states and I feel like we are getting better and better,' Swezey said. "The kids are just very positive kids. We have a lot more hockey to play.'