BUCKTOWN >> The Spring-Ford girls soccer team hasn’t missed a beat.
Even up against an unenviable back-to-back against fellow annual Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division contenders Boyertown and Owen J. Roberts, the Rams are already rolling.
Spring-Ford put down an early-season marker Thursday night at OJR with a well-earned 3-2 victory, freshman Elle Kershner’s goal 23 minutes into the second half providing the decisive blow.
The Rams improve to 5-0 and crucially 4-0 in the Liberty Division while dealing the Wildcats their first league defeat (2-1, 2-3).
“We know that Owen J. is our biggest opponent so everyone was worried about this game. But we’re all confident and worked together,” said forward Alayna Gairo, who scored S-F’s picturesque second goal.
“We played really well. We all stepped up and I’m really proud of everybody,” center back Libby Andrews said.
It was a back-and-forth matchup all the way with a Spring-Ford call and OJR response through the first four goals.
Spring-Ford’s first two goals were from Kelly Franz and Alayna Gairo. Junior Mahogany Willis struck twice for the Wildcats, tying the game on each of her scores.
Willis’ second goal to make it 2-2 came with 30 minutes remaining when Kenzie Milne’s corner kick wasn’t cleared and fell to Willis on the far side.
The Wildcats couldn’t hold the Rams down for good when seven minutes later Gabby Kane played in Kershner down the right side. The promising freshman calmly shot high, near-side for the game-winner.
A sharp first half made way for a choppier second half from both sides, but that mattered little to the victorious Rams
“It was kind of frantic. Sometimes wins aren’t always clean,” Andrews said, channeling the words of the Spring-Ford coaching staff.
Andrews served as a defensive midfielder for the past two seasons for the accomplished Spring-Ford teams that reached the PIAA Championships in each season. Now, with the departures of star defenders Laura Suero (Penn State) and Taylor Newhart (La Salle), Andrews has moved to center back. What would seem like an impossible assignment isn’t what it first appears.
“It’s where I always play for club,” Andrews said of playing center back. “Obviously last year I couldn’t play there because we had Laura Suero and Taylor Newhart but now that they’re gone it’s my spot to fill. I actually feel more comfortable there anyway.”
Andrews moves back alongside mainstay Missy Moore, who had quite a battle with Willis, and Molly McHarg and fellow center back Claire Sites.
“It’s been hard without everyone who graduated but this year we’re all really working together as a team, coming together and we all play great together,” Gairo said. “We have a really deep team in general. The new girls are stepping up and playing a part for everyone we’re missing.”
Thing of beauty
Spring-Ford’s second goal wasn’t the game-winner, but it was the prettiest.
A good run of possession saw Franz play a sharp pass to Kershner along the left side, who gave a pretty one-touch through ball toward Gairo making a run centrally. Gairo was in through for a breakaway and easily beat OJR keeper Sophia Bono.
“We did a little combination and it was just me and the keeper and I just put it in. We all worked together to get that goal,” Gairo said.
OJR’s first goal was quite nice as well with Veronica Roach picking up an errant pass in the midfield and playing a long, through ball to Willis making a diagonal run to the right.
“We were trying to get that early ball in the beginning whether it’s me crossing or from the other side because the defenders always get caught forward since they try to back up on me,” Willis said. “With that diagonal cross, they’re not going to be ready for it.”