SOUDERTON – In many ways, the Council Rock girls soccer team could view this season as a ‘mission accomplished’ affair. Though bowing out of the state playoff tournament via a 2-0 loss to Central Bucks East in the quarterfinals, the lady Indians fought their way through a great season.
In 2014, Wendel Beres’ first year as head coach, North posted a respectable 13-5-1 record, a mark that included six more wins than the previous year.
This year, the Indians wanted to improve upon that performance. In the closing weeks of the regular season, Casey McAlister, one of the four senior captains, defined the Rock’s reasonable goals.
“We wanted a better record than we had last year. That was our biggest goal. We also wanted to have fun. This is the last season for several of us.”
The fun factor definitely increased as North reversed a shaky 2-3 start to the season to go on to log a 9-3-2 record in the highly competitive Suburban One League (SOL) National Division. Their courageous rush at the end of the campaign earned them a spot in the District One-Class AAA tournament.
The Indians made the most of their opportunity, recording big district wins over Upper Dublin, Bayard Rustin, and West Chester Henderson before losing a semifinal heartbreaker to Downingtown West. After battling through 110 minutes of grueling soccer, CR lost 3-1 on penalty kicks. Their third place finish, however, did assure them a trip to states.
The resurgence also brought about a newly defined set of goals as readily outlined by sophomore Becca Margolis after the Indians district success. “Our first goal as a team was to make it to playoffs. Now, we’re going to states so we’re going to keep moving along with our goals and setting new ones.”
The trek down the Keystone Yellow Brick Road started on Nov. 10 with a long bus ride to Scranton to take on District Two champion Wallenpaupack. Here, the Indians found themselves not only battling a tough foe but also the worst weather the soccer gods could throw their way. With cold biting winds and a pelting rain in their face, the Rock flashed their usual gutsy style of play.
Junior Kayla Robinson opened the Indians’ scoring when she settled the ball at the 25, spun to her left and kicked it over the goalie’s outstretched arms. Senior Tori Hill added to the Rock’s tally when she took a rebound and booted it into the back of the net at the 23rd minute. Robinson would ice the 3-0 victory, scoring her seventh goal in five postseason games with 20 minutes left in the game.
The dominating win set up a quarterfinal match up with undefeated District One champ Central Bucks East. Once again, Mother Nature added her own potent mix to the contest, whipping steady winds across the Souderton High School Stadium and right into the face of the North defenders.
East, who sported a 22-0-1 record, took full advantage of the blustery winds as they kept the ball on the Rock half of the pitch the entire first half. In the first 40 minutes of play, the Indians did not record one shot on goal. The Patriots, meanwhile, peppered the Indian keeper, Jeri Belardo with seven shots.
Belardo, who has recorded 14 shutouts this season, was equal to the task. Whether diving to either side or soaring to snag rocketed missiles, the senior proved invincible. She rejected two shots off the foot of East’s leading scorer Emma Loving (31 goals).
The first tally of the contest came in the 63rd minute. Ironically, it was an own goal. Loving penetrated the Rock’s defense and fired a crossing pass that deflected off a defender’s leg and scooted by Belardo, who had moved into position to block the pending shot.
Facing elimination, North put on a furious last rally. Hill had the best scoring chance but her shot from the 20 went just wide of the net. With North pressing up to gain the greatest scoring thrust, Loving managed to break away and race three quarters of the field before deking by the goalie for an open goal score with 1:52 remaining.
Though the season is over, the Indians (16-6-3) can certainly look with pride at their ‘mission accomplished.’
Central Bucks East 2, Council Rock North 0
(Nov. 14 at Souderton)
CR NORTH 0 0 – 0
CB EAST 0 2 – 2
SECOND-HALF GOALS: Emma Loving (CBE), own goal, 63rd minute; Loving (CBE) 79th minute
SHOTS: CR North 2, CB East 12.
SAVES: Jeri Belardo (CRN) 11; Katie Dolf (CBE) 0, Kristen Obetz (CBE) 2
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