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Phoenixville stands tall but sees season end to Villa Maria

MALVERN >> Villa Maria Academy’s girls soccer team is moving on while Phoenixville is packing up the gear for the 2016 season.

Separated by just one notch in the higher echelon of the District 1-AAA seedings, the two teams put on quite a display of excellence despite pouring rain Thursday afternoon.

The host Hurricanes wound up using a second-half goal by sophomore Sarah Goldblum to edge the Phantoms, 1-0, in the quarterfinal round of the tournament.

Goldblum’s goal came with 22:28 remaining in regulation time.

Villa Maria, the number four seed, advanced to the semifinals, which will be played Nov. 2. The Hurricanes (11-7) will take on Villa Joseph Marie, which defeated Mount St. Joseph’s, at a site and time to be determined.

Phoenixville, the number five seed, saw its season end with a 14-6-1 overall record, which ranks as third-best in the history of the girls soccer program at Phoenixville. The program has existed for around 20 years. Phoenixville also played a number of young players this season, who wound up stepping up and contributing mightily to the team’s success.

The heavy rain took away what could have been even greater performances by both schools, who possess a lot of quick, fast players all over the field.

Villa Maria freshman goalkeeper Gabriella Maclachlan recorded the shutout with three saves. Phoenixville’s Hannah Sands made five saves.

“We kind of had a breakdown at midfield where we got pulled out of position a little bit,” said Phoenixville coach Tim Raub. “Their girl got around us and made a nice goal. Give Milla Maria credit. They were the better team today.”

Villa Maria senior captain Victoria “Tori” Kent is glad to see her final scholastic season stay alive for the next round of playoffs.

“The rain definitely equalized the game,” said Kent. “But Phoenixville is good. They are always a tough team. They fight until the end. It comes down to who is more aggressive and who wants it more.”

The Hurricanes also got a big game from senior Morgan Monteith, who played an active role on both ends of the field.

“It comes down to who is ready to play,” said Monteith. “It was hard with the rain, but you can’t let the conditions bother you.”

Raub and Villa Maria coach Gary Christopher lauded both sides for exhibiting such an outstanding game despite such lousy conditions.

“It was an incredible game,” said Christopher. “It was really a battle.”

Christopher praised Phoenixville’s senior core of talented players and leaders – Sophia Kopko, Dakota Graham, Kaitlyn Casiano and Julia Brown – for playing outstanding games in what turned out to be the final game of their tremendous scholastic careers in  lifting the Phantoms’ girls soccer program to great heights.

Even with time winding down in the final seconds, Phoenixville had a chance to tie the game. Graham made a long, free hit and sent it toward the Hurricanes’ net, but the Villia Maria defense held up as time officially expired.

Phoenixville sophomore forward Gabrielle Perrotto closed out the season with 26 goals and one assist. The 26 goals for a single season puts Perrotto in a tie for second place on the Phoenixville career charts with Lauren Benner (West Chester University sophomore), trailing only Ashley Habbel, who went on to play at the University of Pittsburgh and was a former assistant coach with the Phantoms.

Graham ended the season with eight goals and 16 assists. The 16 assists puts Graham atop the list for a single season mark.

Raul said some of his girls who do not play club soccer, like most top players do, compensated by working that much harder and playing that much harder in practices and games.

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