PHOENIXVILLE >> The two Frontier Division heavyweights butted heads for nearly 100 minutes Tuesday night at Phoenixville’s Washington Field.
Pope John Paul II and Phoenixville put on quite an exhibition of girls soccer in the Pioneer Athletic Conference.
When all was said and done and all the players and coaches on both teams caught their breath, Phoenixville owned a 4-3 double-overtime victory over the Golden Panthers after the Phantoms trailed 3-0 in the early going.
PJP had beaten Phoenixville, 1-0, in the league opener, which only served as added momentum for Phoenixville in the rematch at the Phantoms’ home field.
Phoenixville’s Gabrielle Perrotto scored the game-winning goal with 4:23 left in the second 10-minute overtime session. It was Perrotto’s third goal of the game.
Phantom teammate Dakota Graham knotted the score at 3-all with just 13 seconds left in regulation time to force overtime. The score came on a dramatic 27-yard free kick from the right sideline in front of the Phoenixville bench.
The Golden Panthers bolted to their early lead on three goals by Kayla Meszaros. PJP held a 3-0 lead following Meszaros’ 30-yard bomb in the 27th minute of action.
But while the scorers did what they do best, it was the collective standout play by both schools that resulted in such an entertaining contest.
One of those players was Phoenixville’s Maddie White, who stepped up defensively against Meszaros the rest of the way
“I thought it was just a really team effort,” said White. “It takes a team effort to win a game like this. We played well, and PJP is always a tough team. We had to give it our all with them winning the first game. That was our motivation.”
Perrotto’s first goal, off a pass from Graham, put the Phantoms on the scoreboard in the 35th minute, but the Phantoms still trailed 3-1 at halftime.
White said the Phantoms remained confident despite falling behind early by a large margin
“We were not thinking about the score,” said White. “We had to get back and get back to business. It was our best game of the season so far. Everybody was excited and pumped. It was a game where morale was running high. There was a lot of talking out there.”
Phoenixville head coach Tim Raub was thrilled with his young team for stepping up in such a pressure-packed, must-win situation after facing the big early deficit.
“Maddie White was the woman of the match,” said Raub. “We put her in midfield, and that changed everything for us. Maddie White has her motor.”
At halftime, Raub and his assistants decided to switch to a three-back defense with two up top. The Phantoms switched Julia Brown from midfield to up front to be paired with Perrotto, giving the hosts another potential scoring threat that was harder to defend against. Brown was accustomed to playing for the forward spot since she plays that position with her club team.
“We were down 3-0, but they didn’t get down,” said Raub. “We are young and inexperienced so we could have folded there, but we didn’t.”
“This was the important one,” PJP coach Stewart Sherk said after the series split. “Getting Kayla (Meszaros) back made a huge difference in our team. It was a hard-fought game. Phoenixville has battlers and they are well-coached. They have a lot of talent. Our girls battled to, but we weren’t able to close it out.”