PHOENIXVILLE >> The Pennridge girls soccer team wasn’t familiar with its opponent Saturday night, but it knew top-seeded Neshaminy was tough.
The Rams fell behind 1-0 in the first half and were never able to overcome it, falling to Neshaminy 2-0 in the District 1-AAAA final.
“They’re a very strong and physical team,” Pennridge head coach Audrey Anderson said. “It was actually fun to play against them.”
Neshaminy was a brick wall defensively all night. Its back line, making it difficult for Pennridge to create chances, anchored the No. 1 seed in District 1. The Rams were able to create a few scoring opportunities at the end of each half, but just couldn’t finish the job.
“It was hard to game plan for (Neshaminy), we had never seen them play, but I think we knew enough about them to give it our best shot,” Anderson said.
Pennridge can also use the match as a learning experience as it moves on to the state tournament Tuesday.
“We talked about using this game as a little bit of experience for us Tuesday (in the PIAA tournament)…it was good to get the experience under our belt,” Anderson said.
Pennridge has 11 seniors on its roster, and those girls plan to use their final opportunity to its fullest.
“From here were taking the fact that these are the kinds of teams we’re going to be facing from here out,” Anderson said. “We need to be prepared and be willing to work for every opportunity we get. I think our seniors wanted to get here to bad…on Monday they’ll realize this game will help us come states.”
The scoring started in the 24th minute with Jackie Ziegler, who scored on a corner kick to give Neshaminy a 1-0 lead into the half.
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From there defense was the key, and Neshaminy never seemed to have left formation. It’s been a calling card all year long, and it worked all the way to the district title.
“Our back four was solid. They have been all year,” Neshaminy head coach Chelsea Lovelace said. “It’s definitely helped us out, especially in big games like this. They had few errors and just played a solid 80 minutes.”
Cementing the back four is senior leader Maggie Daeche. The captain could be seen and heard all over the field Saturday night.
“It’s been a big transition to step up, playing at this level as a freshman and being like the young immature one on the team and then coming up and seeing the whole change,” Daeche said. “It’s been just awesome. I can’t even put into words how awesome it is to be in charge of all these girls.”
The second goal was another scrappy one, as freshman Kristin Curley pounced on a rebound and put home a sealing goal.
“It’s surreal almost,” Curley said about her goal. “I can’t even describe it. It’s amazing”
Even down 2-0 Pennridge never quit on the match, which is what you’d expect by such an experienced squad. The Rams best chances came in the last minute of play, as the same scrums that led to Neshaminy goals didn’t quite do the same for Pennridge.
“I respect my team and the fact that when we were down 2-0 they kept pressuring,” Anderson said. “They didn’t quit. That’s us. We don’t quit. We’ve never been quitters.”
NESHAMINY 2, PENNRIDGE 0
Pennridge: 0 0 – 0
Neshaminy: 1 1 – 2
Goals: N – Jackie Ziegler, Kristin Curley. Shots: CBS – 7, Pennridge 7. Corners: N – 1, P – 3.