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Willis lifts Owen J. Roberts past Phoenixville, into PAC Championship

BUCKTOWN >> Owen J. Roberts’ speedy forward Mahogany Willis is quite a handful to try to contain on the girls soccer field.

The junior displayed her vaunted talents on center-stage with the bright lights beaming Tuesday night during the semifinals of the Pioneer Athletic Conference playoffs at the Wildcat North Field.

Willis scored the first two goals of the game to help Owen J. Roberts take a two-goal halftime lead. She then completed her hat trick with the Wildcats’ last goal of the evening as OJR posted a 5-1 victory over Frontier Division-winner Phoenixville.

Phoenixville's Dakota Graham (11) tries to get by Owen J. Roberts' Caroline Thompson during their PAC semifinal Tuesday. (Austin Hertzog - Digital First Media)

Phoenixville’s Dakota Graham (11) tries to get by Owen J. Roberts’ Caroline Thompson during their PAC semifinal Tuesday. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Owen J. Roberts, the runner-up in the Liberty Division, advanced to the PAC championship game Thursday at 5 p.m. back at OJR. The Wildcats will take on No. 1 seed Spring-Ford, which recorded a 4-1 victory over Pope John Paul II in the other semifinal contest.

“I want a jacket so bad,” Willis said of Owen J. Roberts’ goal to capture the league championship. “I want to win this.”

Photo Gallery: Phoenixville vs. Owen J. Roberts

It will, of course, be a major task against a Spring-Ford squad that has already beaten OJR twice during the regular season.

Willis’ first goal, just five minutes into the first half, put the Wildcats ahead to stay. She made a move from left to right and deposited her goal into the lower right corner of the net.

The score remained that way until the 36-minute mark, when Willis found the back of the net again. She made a run downfield and fired a shot that landed in the far right corner of the net.

Phoenixville kept battling, though, and had some opportunities at both ends of the field.

Phoenixville's Sophia Kopko clears the ball from Owen J. Roberts' Mahogany Willis. (Austin Hertzog - Digital First Media)

Phoenixville’s Sophia Kopko clears the ball from Owen J. Roberts’ Mahogany Willis. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Phantom sophomore keeper Hannah Sands registered 12 saves to keep Phoenixville in it.

Owen J. Roberts, which also got goals from Mia Baumgarten and Danika Swech, held a 17-5 advantage in shots.

Baumgarten’s goal on a penalty kick made the score 3-0 with less than five minutes remaining in the first half. Willis also helped set up that goal by making a run to the net before being tackled on a violation.

The Phantoms found a spark shortly thereafter. Gabrielle Perrotto, the Phantoms’ high-scoring sophomore forward, made a strong run down the right side of the field.

That Perrotto penetration created a corner kick opportunity for the Phantoms, one of two on the night.

Dakota Graham took the initial hit from the right corner, and Julia Brown converted with a header goal off a body twist to trim the OJR lead to 3-1 just prior to intermission.

With the clock winding down until halftime, Graham made a steal and took a shot that hit the side of the net. Graham also aimed a shot that went high of the net on a restart just before time expired in the opening half.

Owen J. Roberts, which improved its record to 11-2-1 in the PAC, finished 7-2-1 in the Liberty Division. Phoenixville (10-4) won the Frontier Division title by reeling off nine consecutive victories following a season-opening 1-0 setback to Pope John Paul II.

Owen J. Roberts' Kylie Cahill (29) wins a header over Phoenixville's Gabrielle Perrotto Tuesday. (Austin Hertzog - Digital First Media)

Owen J. Roberts’ Kylie Cahill (29) wins a header over Phoenixville’s Gabrielle Perrotto Tuesday. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

“We played really hard,” said Sands. “They (Wildcats) jumped out on top, but we gave it our all.”

Owen J. Roberts’ defense surrounded Perrotto throughout the game to limit her ability to maneuver through open spaces on the field. Sophomore Kylie Cahill was responsible for much of the defensive pressure, along with sophomore Kenzie Milne, junior Kali Pupo and sophomore Brinley Beveridge.

And the Wildcats’ ball control at midfield was established by the work of midfielders Julia Dalton, Caroline Thompson, Kilee McCloud and Swech.

“She (Willis) is a really good player,” said Sands. “I am proud of our team to get here.”

“We are excited for districts (No. 6 seed in Class AAA),” said Brown, who is one of six Phoenixville seniors. “It happens. I think we were definitely in it. We definitely had a chance. I love the team. We’re something special.”

NOTES >> Phoenixville’s formidable senior nucleus of defender Sophia Kopko, forward Dakota Graham and midfielders Kaitlyn Casiano and Brown played their final PAC game. … Also graduating will be senior goalies Yadira Cruz and Dina Corraro. … Owen J. Roberts’ roster consists of no seniors.

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