BOYERTOWN >> When Boyertown knew exactly what Owen J. Roberts had planned, the Wildcats were scoring goals.
Even when the Wildcats didn’t know what they had planned themselves, they still managed goals.
Almost everything came up roses for the OJR girls soccer team Thursday night in its 3-1 victory at Boyertown that clinched the team its first trip to the Pioneer Athletic Conference playoffs in three years.
“The first time we’ve done this in my entire high school career. Every time we’ve played them we lost (before this season),” junior midfielder Caroline Thompson said after winning at Boyertown. “This is kind of the clinching playoffs moment, the first time my class will be able to go (to the PAC Final Four) so it’s a big moment, especially being a captain.”
Thompson put on a captain’s performance, as did junior defender Kylie Cahill.
Both scored goals when the Bears knew exactly what they were trying. Set piece target Cahill got on the end of Kenzie Milne’s corner kick 29 minutes into the game to give OJR the lead. Thompson sealed the game on a free kick from beyond 20 yards that was hit high and to the right side for a 3-1 lead with 20:52 to play.
“This is the first year coach has given me the chance to take those free kicks. I got one against Downingtown East and I was really hoping to get it again today and I did,” Thompson said.
In between, Mahogany Willis scored on a long, looping ball from the left side that was played as a cross but turned into a 2-0 OJR lead with three minutes until halftime.
“That was not a shot,” Willis sincerely admitted to the OJR bench after the goal.
Boyertown had little traction in the first half but gained greater traction in the second half when it opted to play long on the counterattack, giving forwards Lauren Haley and Grace Conover the opportunity to turn the game into a foot race.
Conover scored the Bears’ goal and threatened on multiple occasions. Haley came close on a last ditch tackle from Milne to keep it 3-1 with 15 minutes left.
“Grace Conover, she’s a pint-sized kid and she gave us a big spark,” Boyertown coach Bill Goddard said. “She’s quick and aggressive. She plays like she’s 6-2, though she might be 5-2. She certainly gave us a big spark on that goal to get us back in the game. She gave us some much-needed energy.”
Yet it was too much OJR overall as the Wildcats pulled off a season sweep of the Bears (3-0 win at OJR earlier in the year).
“Boyertown has always been one of our rivals. Our game philosophy is to go hard and always try to be positive on the field in whatever we do. At the same time, when things go wrong we need to keep our heads in,” Cahill said. “First half was our style of play, moving the ball around and finding windows. Second half they came out and pressured us. It takes us a while to get into that flow that they’re coming to pressure the ball, but we were able to stay in our game plan.”
Improving to 6-1-1 in division at 9-1-1 in the PAC, OJR books a spot in the Final Four as one of the wild card entries.
Boyertown fell to 5-3, 8-3 and will need to win out to give itself a chance – Pope John Paul II also sits at 8-3 against league opposition. The Bears are yet to face unbeaten Spring-Ford and Norristown.
The Pioneer Athletic Conference playoffs will take two wild card teams after the division champions, which can come from either division. The third- and fourth-place teams will be determined by overall PAC record, which includes three divisional crossover contests.
MASH at BASH
The Boyertown sideline has practically become a MASH unit. The Bears were missing four starters Thursday night, including Kaleigh Gallagher and Hanah Mutter, who will miss the rest of the season.
“We had a rough week last week with four games in six days and turned around to play at PV on Monday (a 1-0 win). Fortunately we had two days to rest ahead of today’s game. That was the roughest part of our schedule,” Goddard said. “We had some casualties along the way and had to do some things differently tonight.”
“I loved the way we played, loved the spirit and the fight. We’re playing people out of position, playing systems we don’t normally play, for them to make the adjustments under the circumstances I thought we did a good job. I was proud of the kids the way they played.”
Ride In Style
No player on the OJR roster – the squad doesn’t feature a senior – had ever won at Boyertown until Thursday night. Quite a range of emotions.
“Freshman year I left crying. Sophomore year everyone was silent. And this year we get to party on the bus,” Thompson said.