While most high school students are concerned with getting their driver’s license, Perkiomen Valley senior center back Erin Paquette used a different kind of license Monday afternoon – a license to roam.
The Vikings’ defensive mainstay over the past few seasons, Paquette took some initiative early in the second half of a scoreless battle with Pottsgrove by carrying the ball from her spot on defense all the way to the Falcons’ defensive line and playing in Kelsey Marino for a big scoring chance.
“It’s something I do often. I try to get forward into the play a lot,” Paquette said. “It’s just important that people cover for me, but my teammates know me well enough to know to get back.”
The sequence didn’t net PV a goal after Pottsgrove goalkeeper Erin Carroll charged Marino to make the save, but it served as a statement of intent that the Vikings were coming.
“I knew what ‘Paq’ was doing from the start because she does it so often that I just made my run and hoped to get on the ball that she passed,” Marino said. “Unfortunately I missed it … but I got the next one.”
Less than five minutes later Marino got her goal and sophomore midfielder Maggie Sell punctuated things with a 25-yard blast as Perkiomen Valley emerged from Pottsgrove with a 2-0 victory in a Pioneer Athletic Conference crossover game.
“Third straight win so it feels nice to get it going,” Paquette said. “We had tough competition in the beginning with Boyertown, Owen J. and Spring-Ford straight in a row so it feels nice to get some wins under our belts and get things rolling.”
Paquette and back line mates Jocelyn Moore, Joanna Gorrell and Allison Cappelli snuffed out nearly everything in front of goalkeeper Leslie Adams, who needed three saves in the shutout for Perk Valley (2-3, 4-4).
Turning point >> The Vikings were in control and the more likely team to score going into the second half, but it took a failed clearance following a Sydney Marasco cross from the right side to net the breakthrough.
“I saw the cross come in and the other team mishandled it so I just jumped on the ball,” said Marino, a junior. “I was like, ‘I have to shoot,’ because it was wide open. I had to score and I was able to in the bottom, right corner.”
Back to goal >> After an uplifting 4-0 start to the season, Pottsgrove has hit a rough patch with three straight losses – all without a goal. None was more deflating than losing late to Frontier Division leader Pope John Paul II last Friday with less than three minutes to play.
“Against PJP, there was a huge, bad call from the ref and we went on to lose the game. We’ve kind of gone downhill,” Pottsgrove midfielder Dalia Abbas said. “That game was really tough for us because we felt we should have won. We played one of the best games we ever have, we all worked so well with one another. We had so much momentum that game and we really thought we were going to win it. When we lost we were so devastated.”
The Falcons scoring woes were exacerbated by the absence of forward Skylar Glass, who was out due to illness. Sophomore Rebecca Delp did well up top as an outlet for Abbas and fellow midfielder Madison Thierry, but the chances were few.
“I thought we possessed the ball better today but at the end of game we had some trouble. We were able to make some chances but we weren’t able to follow through,” Thierry said.
Abbas and Thierry have been central – literally – to the Falcons’ early season success which featured league wins over Upper Merion, Upper Perkiomen and Pottstown.
Abbas played striker last year but has moved into the midfield alongside her senior classmate.
“We used to play together when we were 4 years old so we grew up together and have been teammates for the longest time. We really know how to play together,” Abbas said.
Forward-thinking >> Perk Valley head coach Kim Paulus felt this year’s team had the potential to score more goals than the past defense-first teams.
“We knew going into the season that we had a more offensive team because we’ve always been pretty defensive in the past couple years,” Paquette said. “This is our year that we want to get more goals than we have in previous years because we have players like Kelsey (Marino) and Sydney (Marasco) up top.”
The past identity remains in good hands with Paquette leading.
“She’s a beast out there. I trust her so much out there,” Marino said. “Whenever there’s a head ball I know she’ll be on it, I feel comfortable and confident back there.”
“It’s not just me, it’s the entire defense,” Paquette quickly chimed in.
Spoken like a true leader.