ROYERSFORD >> Even from the sidelines with the win well in-hand, senior Jackie Lerro was still finding ways to make an impact on her team.
Her voice echoed alongside Pope John Paul II’s first-year head coach Alicia Kirby during their 6-2 win over Upper Merion on Monday afternoon.
“We were all fired up for this game,” said Lerro, with PJP coming off an overtime loss against Phoenixville on Friday night. “Our offense was connecting really well. We were moving the ball up the field and getting good looks at the goal.”
The win improves Pope John Paul II to 2-1 in Pioneer Athletic Conference play (2-1 overall). The loss drops the Vikings to 1-2 PAC (2-2 overall).
Lerro, a Lynchburg College (Virginia) commit, scored four times and added an assist before being pulled for rest early in the second half. Madisan Green scored PJP’s final two goals while Gabby Simms had two assists and Kendra Sykes added one. Kaylee Spinrad had a defensive save to protect PJP’s two-goal lead with just over a minute left in the opening half.
The win comes just three days after the Golden Panthers lost a close 3-2 overtime affair against the Phantoms.
That loss still lingering in their minds, Kirby admitted her team needed some time to regroup.
“The weekend was definitely good for us,” said Kirby. “I know the girls were disappointed with Friday’s loss, but we did a nice job of bouncing back and learning from it.
“They were keeping good space on the field, communicating well — just all around good field management. Most importantly, though, we were capitalizing on our opportunities.”
Upper Merion forward Sammie Deskiewicz opened up the scoring nearly 10 minutes in when she scored with the game’s opening shot. The Vikings wouldn’t score again until 41 minutes later, when Rella Staley chipped one in off an assist from Tatum Thomas with nine minutes left in regulation.
“We’re a very young team,” said Upper Merion head coach Angie Yanocha, “so there are definitely a lot of things we need to work on. I was glad that we were able to get on the board early on and late, but we’ve obviously find a way to convert more points in between.”
Upper Merion’s goalie situation is a testament to their youth.
Second-year keeper Kanika Yadav registered two saves in the first half while first-year keeper Hannah Hang finished with five saves.
“Right now, we’re just getting that game experience and putting in the time with everyone together. Those things will come with time.”
Keeping the Pace
Lerro led Pope John Paul II with 22 goals and 17 assists last season.
So far on the 2016 season, she has eight goals in three games and one assist in three games. Points and numbers aside, the senior says the Golden Panthers have one goal in mind for the season.
“We want to get to districts this year,” she said, “we were close last year, but came up just a little short. I think everyone really wants to get there this season.”
Heart of the PAC
Upper Merion is now in its first year competing in the Pioneer Athletic Conference since making the move from Suburban One.
Fresh off a 12-0 loss against Upper Perkiomen Friday night, Kirby admits her team has several adjustments to make during this transition year.
“We’re getting a taste for the teams in this area,” she said. “It’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of adjustments — from me and the players. I think the girls are up for the challenge. We’re excited to be here and see what this season brings.”