NORRISTOWN >> The Pottstown and Norristown girls soccer teams seemed happy to see each other.
“This was the most anticipated game of the season for us,” Norristown coach Lisa Noce said. “Every year it’s back and forth.”
The Trojans and Eagles – historically non-league opposition – met Monday for the first time as Pioneer Athletic Conference opponents with something on the line neither managed to claim the year before – a league win.
Instead, they shared.
Pottstown’s Ebony Reddick broke down the left side and netted the equalizing goal with two minutes left in regulation to cancel out Ashley Schools’ two goals as Pottstown and Norristown played to a 2-2 draw at Norristown Area High School.
“It felt really good. All the hard work is paying off,” Pottstown freshman goalkeeper Emme Wolfel said. “You watch everyone start down low and you watch everyone build up, and you can see it in the games. It’s great to see.”
The Trojans’ opening goal, midway through the second half, was scored by Wolfel, yes, the goalkeeper. After senior Rachael Levengood was fouled inside the penalty area, Wolfel, her long-sleeve yellow goalie shirt contrasting her teammates’ navy blue tops, stepped up to take the penalty kick and beat her counterpart Aaliyah Walker-Benitez to level the game 1-1.
“It seems really easy, but it’s really not,” Wolfel said of her penalty kick. “I wanted it, I really wanted it.”
Norristown led 1-0 at halftime thanks to a bit of ‘Twin Magic’ when Emily Schools carried the ball to the left end line and passed back centrally to find her sister Ashley rushing on from midfield for an easy finish.
Ashley Schools was at it again three minutes after Wolfel’s PK when she dribbled through the defense and reclaimed the lead for the Eagles with 20 minutes remaining in regulation.
In the fading moments, it looked as though Norristown was on its way to a 2-1 win over Pottstown, the same result as in 2015.
But with Reddick pushed up to forward after starting at center back, the junior who switched from field hockey to soccer this fall was creating chances.
“That was going to happen whether it was 2-1 or 0-0,” Pottstown coach Gary Mock said of pushing Reddick up top. “Ebony was going up there at the 15 minute mark of the second half. Whether we were down or up, she was going.”
She previously flashed a shot off the post before smashing the tying goal near-post off her favored left foot in the 77th minute.
“I was thinking it was over,” Wolfel said of the minutes prior to Reddick’s goal. “But I know we can find a lot in everyone’s heart.”
Sharing the result – Reddick had the best two chances on the two 10-minute overtime periods but both shots flew over the crossbar – felt fitting for a pair of teams in similar situations with fledgling programs trying to gain a foothold.
Both sides realize there will be less enjoyable games down the road against the annual contenders in the PAC, but there were positive vibes abound from players and coaches Mock and Norristown coach Lisa Noce.
Both coaches – Mock is in his 8th year, Noce in her 5th – have shown their commitment to the programs by not letting them ride a coaching carousel like many programs that struggle to win day in and day out.
Noce is encouraged by the Eagles having a junior varsity team for the first time.
“In Norristown, the leagues are growing and improving and you see the quality of the girls coming in improving. It’s exciting to see,” Noce said. “We got a win Saturday night. Already our record has improved from year’s previous. Every year all I hope is to keep building and hopefully get some results.”
Mock has lent his positive approach to Pottstown’s program going on a decade.
“I’m here for them. My kids went to Pottstown, I know what it’s like. I’m here for these kids. If I can help just one of them excel to great heights, I would love to see the kids from the soccer team move on and do great things,” said Mock, whose daughter Kasey Mock went on to become a standout in lacrosse at Syracuse.
His philosophy this year is all about teamwork – ‘We B4 Me.’
“It’s about putting the rest of the team before anything ‘I’ can do, and if we continue to do that we will get better,” Mock said. “It’s an attitude that I’d like to instill more and more.”
Mock has instilled belief in many, many players in his eight seasons.
“He says it everyday, he definitely believes in us,” Wolfel said. “He knows we can get better, knows we can win games, knows we can score, knows we can put 110-percent effort into it every practice and every game.”
“I just want to keep pushing forward, being positive,” Mock said. “These are the games that we can take advantage of and put a good foot forward.”