UPPER POTTSGROVE — When the Pope John Paul II defense is talking it up in front of goalkeeper Jackie Bowes, things are usually going well.
That was the case in Tuesday afternoon's Pioneer Athletic Conference girls lacrosse match against Pottsgrove as the Golden Panthers stormed back from an early deficit, built a second-half lead, and then hung on down the stretch for a 15-12 win at Pottsgrove Middle School.
Bowes made nine saves on the day, including six in the second half of the Frontier Division matchup. Lillia Walls scored five goals to go with an assist and Jordan Kengor added three goals and an assist for PJP (2-6, 4-7). Brianna West and Caitlin Gillette each scored four times for the Falcons (1-10, 4-10).
"The defense, in particular, talked a lot more,' Bowes said concerning her team's recovery from a 3-0 deficit seven minutes into the match. "I tell them all the time ... I don't care if you say the same thing over and over again ... just make some noise. We were just working as a team. Groundballs and moving the ball, we definitely did better ... especially in the second half.'
"The second half, our defense started to crash,' said Golden Panthers coach Maureen Burger. "Started to pass the ball, played with some confidence ... and it made a difference.'
Still, PJP had to fight off the Falcons in the final minutes after holding a 12-8 advantage with under 10 minutes remaining. A goal by West brought the hosts to within 13-12 with 2:08 to go and they had the ball down in the PJP end with a chance to tie.
But Pottsgrove turned the ball over, drew a penalty, and lost a draw on a false start. Those mishaps led to PJP goals by Kelsey Brennan and Abby McMenamin within 15 seconds of each other that wrapped up the win.
"We started turning it over,' Pottsgrove coach Kirstin Mayberry said concerning her team's reversal of fortunes following its fast start. "Turnovers killed us. They killed us the last three games. When you turn the ball over 20 times in a game, there's no way you're going to win the game.'
The Golden Panthers were coming off a tough loss at division leader Phoenixville on Monday, one in which they trailed by just a goal at the half before losing by a 19-11 score.
"They were getting over yesterday,' said Burger, who called a time out after Courtney Petrucelli, Jaid Mark, and West had scored consecutive goals for the Falcons at the outset. "Once they regrouped and played their game, they were fine.'
"We called a time out and said, ' let's get it together,'' said Walls. "'We got the lead and we knew this was our game. We just needed to get the ball up and score.'
Which the Golden Panthers did, as they countered with five goals in a row over a span of nine minutes. Gillette came back with two straight to tie the score, and the match was knotted at 6-6 at the half. But Kengor scored off an assist by Abby McMenamin four minutes after the break and PJP led the rest of the way.
Bowes said she forgot about the loss to Phoenixville as soon as Tuesday's match began.
"Going into today, we thought about it, obviously,' said the senior keeper. "And then we let it go. It's a new game. I think we played well.'
Mayberry thought that the Falcons also played well, except for the turnovers.
"It comes back down to silly mistakes,' she said. "I think we played well. There's still some things that need to be fine-tuned. We have the shooters to do it. But if we're not taking care of the ball, we're going to continue to lose games that we should be winning. This team has the potential.'
The match had been rescheduled from March and the two teams will meet again on Wednesday at PJP.
"We're going to try to not have it be a close game,' said Walls, a senior. "We need to get up in the game early, instead of down by three.'
Hailey Jacobs made eight saves off the bench and Serena Hampton three for the Falcons. ... Arayna Hedgepeth added two goals for Pottsgrove. ... Brennan scored twice and Megan Mattiola, Angela McMonagle, Grace Dawson, Kate Cressman, and McMenamin once each for PJP.
Follow Dennis Weller on Twitter at @dwellersportz.