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St. Basil cruises past Science Leadership Academy, qualifies for PIAA AA Tournament

JENKINTOWN>> There was a lot on the line Wednesday, as District 1-AA’s No.1 seed, St. Basil, took on District 12-AA’s No.2 seed, Science Leadership Academy. Not only would the winner advance to the regional championship game but they’d also earn a trip to the state playoffs.

The Panthers wasted no time asserting themselves as the dominant team, scoring four goals in the first nine minutes, as they cruised to an 11-0 victory.

“For these guys, to make states, it feels great,” St. Basil head coach Bob Opalka said. “Last year we lost a tough game to Christopher Dock, it was our first time back in the playoffs for many years and that was a tough loss to take, so this one feels good because it gets us to where we want to go.”

It was quickly apparent that this one wouldn’t be closely contested.

Basil started with a goal from Sophia Mahoney in the fourth minute, which was followed by two more from Laurn Baldo in the fifth and sixth minutes. Opalka used the early lead as a chance to get all his players valuable experience before they get ready to try and make a run in states.

“One of the things you want to accomplish in a game like this is you want to get yourself ready for the next game,’ Opalka said. “One of the ways you can do that is get some of your substitutes in, some of the players you’re going to need in tough games down the road, and get them out there on the field and working with the first team players, which we were able to do.”

The second half saw the Panthers in an even more dominant fashion as they kept possession and picked their spots. Baldo completed her hat trick just a couple of minutes in and her teammates added scores of their own with precise movement and passing.

“I thought they moved the ball well and moved in the open space well,” Opalka said. “That stuff is probably what I thought we did best today and were going to need to keep doing it as we move forward.”

In a game that you score 11 goals, the offense is usually the main focus. However, the St. Basil defense was quite impressive too as it did not allow a single shot on goal all afternoon and supported the Panthers attack well.

Next up for St. Basil is fellow District 1-AA foe New Hope-Solebury. St. Basil beat New Hope 3-1 in an Oct. 19 matchup which secured its spot as the No.1 seed.

It is often tough to judge a team’s performance in a game like this, where one clearly outmatches the other, but If they have half the success in their next game that they had against Science Leadership Academy, you can expect the Panthers to surprise some people down the road.

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