Pyle, Wirth lead Greenwood to second-half win

METHACTON — Coaches talk about teams not getting off the bus.

Greenwood’s Kent Houser had a team that barely had time to on Tuesday.

The Wildcat field hockey team showed up at Methacton after a near-three hour drive, stepping onto the field with the warmup clock that run between games already ticking.

The effect was noticeable when the Tri-Valley League team struggled to get moving in the first 30 minutes of their PIAA Class A first-round game.

The second half more than made up for it — Maddy Pyle and Paityn Wirth each scored a solo goal and teamed up on a third — actually, the first — as Greenwood advanced on a 3-1 score over Gwynedd Mercy.

Houser said his team was hurried in the opening stanza, yet slow on the ball. It was not the kind of game the Wildcats normally produce.

“We just got pummeled the first half,” he said. “In the second half we really dominated the game.”

The difference, he said, was defense — especially from Nikki Willi in the cage. She stopped 14 shots in the first half; Gwynedd Mercy managed only two more than that in the game.

” Fortunately Nikki kept us in the game,” Houser said. “Our defense just really played great the whole game. We just couldn’t get the ball cleared.”

Gwynedd Mercy was quick, Houser said, and distributed the ball well. The Monarchs interfered with Greenwood’s passing, often stealing the ball and taking right back to the circle in front of the Wildcat goal. In the second half, the ‘Cats made a change in the their transfer passing and it paid off.

Pyle put the ball in the cage on a corner eight minutes into the half with Wirth delivering it. Two minutes later, the Monarchs’ Caroline Sweeney tied the score, but Pyle scored the go-ahead midway through the second half and with fewer than eight minutes to play, Wirth buried the insurance marker.

That was a decorative open-field effort by the top prospect that Houser described thusly: “Paityn pulled one of her Paityns.”

Houser said it was hard coming in as a third-place team, even from District 3, to get a good draw and the next stop in the bracket illustrates that — the Wildcats (20-3) will play District 11 champ Moravian Academy, a 6-0 winner over Bloomsburg, the District 4 runner-up, Saturday.

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