It seemed like the day would never come. Many feared that it wouldn’t.
But on Monday, the high school field hockey season began.
Central Bucks East celebrated with a 4-0 Suburban One League Colonial Division victory over host Pennridge at Helman Field at Grand View Health Stadium.
“We should have played about 10 games by now,” CB East coach Meghann Spratt said. “It’s hard to believe this was the opener.”
Pennridge dominated the first five minutes of play, getting downfield and keeping the ball in CB East’s defensive end.
But the Patriots took control after that.
Kenzie Lever scored the first goal of the game with 9:22 remaining in the first quarter. She netted her second in the second quarter on a direct corner assisted by inserter Sophia Parker just 2:24 into play.
“The first few minutes we definitely needed to figure things out,” said Lever, a senior who will play at James Madison next season. “Once we got that first goal under our belts, that got us going. That first goal gave us momentum. It was like a weight off our shoulders.”
CB East scored another goal off a corner with 9:02 remaining in the second period. Parker put the ball in play, sending it to Phia Mannino, who took a shot that Grace Bethke tipped into the cage to give CB East a 3-0 edge going into halftime.
Parker capped the day with an unassisted goal on a corner with 37 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
“I wasn’t expecting to have a season at all and to get back out there was super fun,” Mannino said. “Both teams really had a lot of intensity. In the beginning we had to get out of playing their game and start to play our game. Once we did that, that’s when we started capitalizing on corners and we started scoring.”
Pennridge had 13 corners to nine for CB East, and the Rams got two in the last two minutes of the game.
“Our defense really worked hard at the end,” Spratt said. “Pennridge did not let up at all.”
Emily Bullard made eight saves in the cage for CB East to register the 40th shutout of her career.
“I have goals for this season for myself and my first goal was to get 50 shutouts,” she said.
“Unfortunately, we’re only playing 10 games so now I have nine more chances to get that close to 50. But if we go far in districts and maybe states then I’ll have more games to hopefully have a chance to make that goal happen.”
Mannino and Bullard will both play at Penn State next year.
Conference realignment didn’t help the Rams, who remain in one of the most competitive divisions around. The only change from last year’s SOL Continental Conference is that Quakertown, a longtime Pennridge rival, is now in the Liberty Division. CB East, Central Bucks West, Central Bucks South, North Penn, Souderton and Pennridge make up the Colonial.
“The changes didn’t really do anything for us,” Pennridge senior Emma Schlotter said. “But you have to take what you’re given and do your best.
“This was a tough way to start our season but it will humble us and help us to work harder. We didn’t pull through with the score but I think we came together as a team and we really worked hard.
“It was a learning game for us. East is a great team. We weren’t there with them as far as the score but mentally I think we were there with them so we need to move forward with that.”