UPPER DUBLIN >> The sounds of Sammy Popper resonated across the field at Upper Dublin, two loud bangs off the back of the cage that firmly put the Patriots in front early.
“It was good to have a game where we could work on possession, really play our game and push the tempo,” said Popper, a sophomore midfielder for GA. “It was definitely good to be able to mesh together.”
Popper’s three goals and two assists led the way for the Patriots, who had scores from five others in an impressive 9-0 win over area rival Upper Dublin in a non-league battle Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s always a goal of ours to score in the first five minutes,” said Popper, who has already committed to Princeton University. “We came out slow in a few of our other games so we were just trying to bounce back, not let the other team set the tempo.
“Circle play has definitely been a focus for us, something we’ve been working on all year.”
The Patriots (11-5-0, 3-3-0 Inter-Ac) were finishers on Wednesday, with Popper’s back-to-back goals followed up by additional scores from Catherine McFadden and Colleen Carrigan, making it 4-0 GA at the half.
“The girls came out working hard and converted a lot of corners, which was good to see,” coach Jackie Connard said.
“We definitely haven’t had trouble scoring goals. We had some games where we had a lot of goals scored against us — that’s probably our biggest weakness, but our attack is our strong suit I would say. Our defense is definitely getting better.”
The second half included much more offense from GA, with Carrigan finishing up a two-goal performance and Carli McCrossen, Maddie O’Hara and Maddie Cooper adding to the Patriot lead.
Olivia McMichael made six saves for the Patriots to lock down the shutout. GA hosts Springside Chestnut Hill Academy on Friday then hosts Agnes Irwin on the 28th before traveling to Notre Dame on Nov. 1 to close out the regular season.
The Patriots will then begin play in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association Playoffs on Nov. 4, trying to surpass their semifinal finish of a year ago.
Upper Dublin, with a big turnaround from a year ago, going all the way from five wins to an 11-6-1, second-place finish in the Suburban One League American Conference, now gets ready for the District 1-AAA playoff seeding meeting Sunday.
Meghan Muth made nine saves for the Cardinals in the regular-season finale. But it was just one of those games where Popper and the GA offense was able to connect.
“We knew she was the player we needed to shut down,” Cardinals coach Heather Boyer said of Popper, who was tough to handle, either scoring or setting up four of the Patriots’ first six goals.
But now the Cardinals can get ready for the postseason.
“These girls really committed to working in the offseason and improving, and they really did,” Boyer said. “They’ve got good enthusiasm and — with the exception of today being a little bit of a blip on the radar — they have good chemistry and they play well together.”
Top Photo: Germantown Academy’s Carli McCrossen pushes the ball past Upper Dublin’s Emma Kate Powell during their game on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)