GRATERFORD — The dust has settled. The all clear has been given and now, after nearly three months, the field hockey season can be classified as finished.
As Upper Perkiomen walked out of Memorial Field at Emmaus High School on November 9, battered after a 4-3 loss to Wyoming Seminary, the emotion on the faces of Casey Umstead, Morgan Aldinger and Maddie Fox told it all.
This season was pressing.
Yes, pressing because the bitter taste of defeat is never easy to swallow. Each team, no matter the record, all folded in eventual losses — but to define a season on one loss, or in some team's cases, a few of them would be a misguided attempt to convey the trials and the successes that each team had this season.
Here is a team-by-team breakdown of the 2013 season.
(5-10, 4-9 PAC-10)
Boyertown, a team with its second head coach in the same amount of years, were expected to do little in the season but became a pleasant surprise as the Bears produced four conference victories — including a 4-0 victory over Spring-Ford and a 1-0 victory over Phoenixville, the No. 2 seed in the Frontier Division.
"This year was a great year for Boyertown,' head coach Dulcie Rothermel said. "The girls were able to improve upon their season from last year and were able to instill a new attitude to the team. We are looking forward to improving even more over the offseason. This was a great step for the rebuilding process and the girls are working hard to keep moving forward.'
(14-6-1, 10-2-1 PAC-10)
During the preseason Alexa Hoover and Methacton knew that this could be their year. Would this be the year that they returned to the PAC-10 Final Four — the first time since 2010?
Hoover and company answered the call with an emphatic yes. Hoover led the team with 29 goals while Brittany Dickinson, Emily Sayre, Molly Carr and Maddie Alderfer all had career-seasons as Methacton clinched the No. 2 seed in the Liberty Division due to impressive three-day stretch where the Warriors ousted Owen J. Roberts and Perkiomen Valley in consecutive games.
And who could forget Sammi Steele in the process? Steele lived up to her name as the national U-17 member posted an 87 percent save average, facing 229 shots and saving 200.
Despite goals by Hoover and Alderfer, the Warriors dropped the Final Four semifinal against Upper Perkiomen before rebounding with a 3-1 victory over Unionville in the first round of the PIAA-AAA playoffs.
A 3-2 overtime loss in the next round to Conestoga ended the Warriors season.
Owen J. Roberts
(15-7-1, 11-1-1 PAC-10)
Coming into the season head coach Clarence Jennelle conveyed that his team did not have a dynamic scorer, like Hoover at Methacton or Casey Umstead at Upper Perkiomen. Instead, his Wildcats squad was going to play a more team-oriented game and rely on the stick work and skill sets of his offense.
Thanks to Madelyn Mullen, Elizabeth Karcewski, Lauren Schweppe, Ashley Kucera and Emma Christman — the philosophy worked. Mullen could score two goals one game, then have Karcewski score two the next and so on. The team was deadly when firing on all cylinders — their PAC-10 record proved it.
The Wildcats finished 12-1 in the regular season and then ousted Phoenixville 4-0 behind goals from Mullen, Schweppe, Christman and Kucera. Despite dropping the PAC-10 final to Upper Perkiomen, OJR rebounded in districts taking two straight against Mount St. Joseph's and Conestoga before finishing in third place — earning a spot in the PIAA playoffs.
During a six-game stretch midway through the PAC-10 slate, the Wildcats outscored its opponents 30-0 behind solid goalkeeping by Liz Tamburro and Ally Mooney — a goaltending tandem that stood far above the rest for the Wildcats.
(10-9, 8-5 PAC-10)
Injuries became the story for the PAC-10 preseason front-runners Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford.
The Vikings started the season with high hopes for a return trip to the PAC-10 Final Four and a long run in districts. However, after a 7-2 start, injuries began to take a toll.
"We have never experienced a season quite like this with 7 different starters going down at some point in the season,' head coach Erik Enters said.
Following a season-ending injury to Amanda Zacharias in the preseason, the Vikings then lost Katie Byrum for five weeks due to a broken hand, Emily Nagle for four games, Laura Styler for 12 games, Kat Bartowski for five games, Annie Himsworth for eight games ending with the decisive blow of losing, who Enters called his most aggressive player, Mara Wrzesniewski for five games.
Despite the injuries, Perkiomen Valley still earned a spot in the District 1 playoffs, due in large part of the play of Kelsey Giese, Rachel Hamm and Laura Shelton before bowing out to West Chester East, 3-1, in the opening round.
(10-10, 6-7 PAC-10)
All things considered, this was a pretty successful season for the Phantoms — a trip to the PAC-10 Final Four, a berth into the District 1-AA playoffs, not too bad for head coach John Tornetta and his team. After starting the season with a 3-1 conference record, the Phantoms hit a losing skid, losing six conference games in a row, allowing Pope John Paul II to enter the fray for the No. 2 seed in the Frontier Division. However, Bailey Quinn, who led the team with 20 goals, along with Taylor Jefferis and the speedy Rose Moore on the perimeter, all contributed in a 3-2 victory over PJP — earning a spot in the PAC-10 Final Four in the process.
Quinn erupted for six goals in the season's final two victories over Pottsgrove and Pottstown but the Phantoms season ended with losses against Owen J. Roberts in the Final Four semifinal and a first-round loss to Merion Mercy in the District 1-AA first round.
Pope John Paul II
(5-10, 4-9 PAC-10)
The Golden Panthers started the season with a 2-1 conference record before tumbling down the PAC-10 standings with five consecutive losses while getting outscored 19-3 in the process. However, despite the team's woes, PJP remained 1.5 games back in the Frontier Division standings after Jordan Kengor's four-goal outburst led the team over Pottsgrove 6-1 late in September.
With a playoff berth on the line, Phoenixville proved to be too much for the PJP squad as Quinn, Jefferis and Moore all scored for the Phantoms en route to a 3-2 victory— solidifying their spot as the No. 2 seed in the Frontier.
(1-14, 1-12 PAC-10)
Pottsgrove started the season on a high note with a 2-0 victory over Pottstown on Sept. 11; from there, things took a down turn. An 11-game losing streak dropped the Falcons to the PAC-10 cellar, but don't let records fool you. Alyssa O'Neil, Kiersten Bond and Gabi Ermish stepped up on the varsity level and offered a glimmer of hope for the 2014 season. O'Neil, a sophomore who possesses the leadership qualities of a senior, led the team with three goals and will look to become more of an offensive presence in 2014.
"(O'Neil) is fast and aggressive with positive work ethic and great stick skills,' head coach Christine Campbell said.
"We're going to continue to build the program, build the younger players' skills and agility and work together as a team.'
(3-12-2, 1-12 PAC-10)
A team mired in a nine-game conference-losing streak that yielded zero goals, came through in its second to last conference game, ousting Pottsgrove 1-0 thanks to a Breanna Bodnar goal. Despite the defeats, the team had become the cornerstone of success for the Pottstown school district as it became the first varsity team to win a conference match in 2013. Tyisha Reddick was phenomenal during the season as she recorded 10 or more saves in seven games for the Trojans, including a 29-save performance in a losing effort to Methacton.
(11-8, 7-6 PAC-10)
Spring-Ford's early season troubles were due in large part to the season-ending injury to Alyssa Chillano, a Mercury All-Area player in 2012 and the player who put "Dynamic' in the Gabby Major and Chillano dynamic duo.
Without Chillano, Spring-Ford experienced some growing pains in the midfield as they came out of the gate with a 1-3 conference record. However, following a 1-0 loss to Methacton on Sept. 11, Major and the Rams went on a tear, winning five of their next six conference games to earn them a spot in the District 1 playoffs. In those five victories, Major scored a conference-best 18 goals during that span while goalie Dante Vagnoni backstopped the Rams and came up with his best performance in a late-season matchup with Phoenixville, saving 14 in a 3-0 shutout.
Vagnoni stood tall again for the Rams in its District 1 opener against Hatboro-Horsham, making four of his 10 saves in the overtime period, including a sliding stick save on a Colby Eldridge shot. Yet, two corners in the second overtime gave the Hatters much-needed momentum as Eldridge's shot effectively ended the Rams' season.
"This year we faced some obstacles throughout the season but pulled together at the end of the season and were able to put forth a nice run,' Spring-Ford head coach Jennie Moore said. "Our opening district game (against Hatboro-Horsham) we played our best game all season. Our seniors did a tremendous job of leading our team and they will be missed during next season.'
(18-4, 12-1 PAC-10)
During the preseason, senior Casey Umstead and the Tribe squad made their goals known. They devised a preseason list that included a PAC-10 championship, a victory over Villa Maria, a district title, and to advance past the first round of the PIAA playoffs.
All those boxes were checked.
Led by Umstead's 51 goals this season (scoring her 100th in a 5-4 loss to Gwynedd-Mercy) the Tribe rolled to a 12-1 PAC-10 regular season record and then dismantled Methacton and Owen J. Roberts consecutively to grab the PAC-10 title. Umstead played a huge part in both Final Four games, collecting four goals while Sam Dingler was lethal on defense as an inserter as she collected two assists.
After defeating Springfield-Montco handily in the District 1-AA opener, the Tribe were caught in a battle with Villa Maria, and with the help of Hannah Mack's effort in the first half, keeping the Magic off the board after three consecutive penalty corners, the Tribe were able to defeat Villa thanks to Umstead's heroics in the first overtime.
"It's an incredible feeling to beat Villa, I'm so proud of my team on how hard we worked this season,' defenseman Rachel Felbinger said postgame.
"It's a humongous weight lifted off our shoulders,' Morgan Aldinger followed.
The momentum carried through to the next round as the Tribe defeated Merion Mercy 1-0 in the District final — its first district title since 2006 — a team that advanced to the PIAA-AA Championships before falling to Wyoming Seminary.
Wyoming Seminary played spoiler again as Mallory Lefkowitz's goal in the first overtime period effectively ended the season for Upper Perkiomen in the state quarterfinals.
"Our seniors were a great class to work with. They never quit and they never gave up,' head coach Jamie Warren said. "I'm proud of them.'
Gutsiest Performance of 2013
Look no further than Methacton's Alexa Hoover. After tearing her ACL and partially tearing her meniscus in Germany while playing for the United States U-17 national team, the senior forward rehabbed all winter and was medically cleared to play a week before the season. Hoover, donning a jet-black brace, overcame a forgetful performance in a 3-0 loss to North Penn in the season opener with a two-goal, one-assist performance in a 4-0 victory over Harriton.
The success piled on from there as Hoover collected 29 goals on the season —highlighted by a four-goal performance against Pope John Paul II on Sept. 20 — as the Warriors earned a spot in the PAC-10 Final Four and a spot in the District 1-AAA playoffs.
2013's Shining Moment
A picture says a thousand words.
As Casey Umstead jumped into the arms of Sam Dingler, the curse had been lifted. Since 2006, the Tribe had not been able to solve the puzzle that Villa Maria laid before them. A rip off a penalty corner by the future UConn player and all of that changed.
Following the victory, and for the first time in seven years, the Tribe had won the District 1 title and advanced past the first round of the PIAA playoffs.
"I just feel like this win has been about three years in the waiting,' head coach Jamie Warren said.
Team-by-Team Scoring Leaders
Upper Perkiomen : Casey Umstead - 51 goals
Spring-Ford: Gabby Major - 25 goals
Methacton: Alexa Hoover- 29 goals
Phoenixville: Bailey Quinn - 20 goals
Perkiomen Valley: Kelsey Geise - 16 goals
Owen J.: Emma Christman - 16 goals
Pope John Paul II: Jordan Kengor -12 goals
Pottstown: Hannah Costello — 5 goals
Boyertown: Andrea Wysocki, Gabby Binando — 4 goals
Pottsgrove: Alyssa O'Neil, Imanye Delay - 3 goals