EAST ROCKHILL >> With the regular season halfway through, Pennridge girls soccer coach Audrey Anderson wanted to do something that would give her players a little surge of energy.
So, before their huge match with Central Bucks South on Wednesday, Anderson unveiled a highlight video made of clips from games this season. Then, the Rams went out and added a couple more highlights for the next edition.
Pennridge eked out a hard-earned 2-1 victory over the Titans Wednesday, again some fortitude to climb to the top of the Suburban One League Continental Conference table. With two teams so evenly matched, the outcome hinged on the things that doesn’t translate statistically.
“We knew it was going to be whoever wanted it more,” Rams senior forward Kennedy Peace said. “We had to make sure we worked really hard in this game.”
Pennridge played quite well in the last 60 minutes of its 2-2 draw with Souderton on Saturday and Anderson wanted her charges to bring that effort for all 80 minutes on Wednesday. That made a fast start paramount and thus, the video.
“(Anderson) made this cool video and it I think it really got us pumped up,” senior forward Melissa Lyon said. “It was a collaboration of everything we’ve worked on this season and it got us ready for this game. It was goals and just a bunch of team moments.”
Both sides are known for their remarkably stout defenses and Wednesday’s clash was no different. The Rams (10-1-1, 6-1-1 SOL Continental) kept the Titans (10-2-0, 6-2-0) without a shot on goal through the first 53 minutes while the Titans kept the Rams’ speed in check.
Rams senior Dani Meenan said her team relay connected the ball well all game and worked well as a unit. Meenan, the left back and senior Rachel Velez, the right back, had their hands full with a CB South team that often likes to play out wide to generate offensive chances.
“They have very fast and aggressive forwards, so we just had to stay calm and collected in the back,” Meenan said. “We had to make sure we got the ball off their feet quickly.”
South goalkeeper Sophia Boggs is the best in the league so getting two balls past her was not an accomplishment Anderson took lightly. Pennridge did want to play from behind, not with Boggs able to make the routine and the remarkable saves and a fierce back line in front of her, led by Courtney Taylor, Margot Centofanti and Nicole Wills.
Pennridge didn’t want to play from behind and it didn’t have to thanks to Lyon and Peace. A shade more than 10 minutes in, Lyon sent the speedy Peace in with a through ball and Peace was able to pull Boggs out just enough to get a tiny window of space and finished from the tough angle.
“I have a lot of respect for her,” Peace said. “She’s a strong, strong keeper so it’s about staying with it and if we can get her off that line and even then, it’s still iffy. It was moreso about placement, I was hoping if I put it in the right spot, it would get in there and thankfully, it did.”
“It has to come from a lot of different places on the field,” Lyon said. “There’s no weak spot for her, we have to try and catch her off-guard.”
Peace had another excellent take with about 16 minutes left in the first half that Boggs made a tremendous diving save on.
South came out in the second half with a little more gusto and started to look more dangerous in the attack. Almost mirroring the first half, South’s Corinne McDonald played in Brooke Steigerwalt on a through ball, but a heads-up charge by Pennridge keeper Mary Kate Levush allowed her to clear the danger.
Levush only made one save, but it was a big one with a diving stop of Aleksa Peev’s rip with 21 minutes left. The Rams keeper was unable to do anything about the tying goal however when Morgan Hilton’s chip sailed high into the air and dipped down between the crossbar and the keeper’s gloves with 26:37 to play.
“When they scored, we got together and said let’s bring back the intensity that we had on Saturday night,” Lyon said. “That’s what we needed and what was going to win this game.”
The deadlock didn’t even last five minutes, with Pennridge getting a throw in deep in South’s defensive third. Meenan lobbed it in, where it found sophomore Sarah Williams, a forward off the bench, who was able to slip it by Boggs with 21:58 left.
Williams and junior Lauren Plezia gave the Rams good minutes in the second half, allowing Peace, Lyon and the other forwards to get some rest for the final push.
“They know what has come before them and what is here now at Pennridge with the upper classmen,” Anderson said. “They know what is expected of them and the work rate they have to be at to play in a varsity game. Whoever I put out there on the field, they’re going to work just as hard as the girls who are coming off.”
Boggs, who finished with five saves, made two more big plays in the final 15 minutes, first denying a shot by Erin Stevenson then rising above the horde to punch away an in-swinging free kick delivery by Stevenson.
South went all-in to try and tie the game again, pushing Taylor up into the attack but the Rams countered by dropping Stevenson in between Olivian Fernandez and Courtney Supp on the back line. Inspiration and intensity had gotten Pennridge through 75 minutes and the Rams weren’t about to let it run out there.
Finally, Lyon got the ball down to the corner flag inside the last 35 seconds and Pennridge was able to run down the clock on the win. Any celebration is to be short-lived though, with a trip to CB East looming Friday.
“We need to make sure we’re working hard at practice then implementing that in the game,” Peace said. “We want to practice how we play so that way we’re prepared. It’s a lot of mental along with physical and we’re all on the same page with that so as long as we’re working as a team, it’s going to go well.”
Pennridge 2, Central Bucks South 1
Central Bucks South 0 1 – 1
Pennridge 1 1 – 2
Goals: CBS – Morgan Hilton (Kylie Walsh) 53’; P – Kennedy Peace (Melissa Lyon) 11’, Sarah Williams (Dani Meenan) 58’. Shots: P- 7, CBS – 2. Corner kicks: P- 2, CBS – 0. Saves: CBS – Sophia Boggs 5, P – Mary Kate Levush 1.
Top Photo: Sarah Williams celebrates scoring the second goal for Pennridge during the Rams’ home game against Central Bucks South on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)