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Villa Joseph Marie shuts out Fleetwood, advances to PIAA AAA championship

ROYERSFORD >>  No dramatics needed for the Villa Joseph Marie this time against Fleetwood.

The Jems took the suspense out of their second straight meeting with the Tigers in the PIAA Class AAA girls soccer semifinals before the midway point of the first half. Villa scored three times in an 8-minute, 30-second span and advanced to its third-consecutive state final with a 3-0 win Tuesday night at Spring-Ford’s Coach McNelly Stadium

“We knew who good of a team this was, we knew they were going to come out really strong,” Jems junior Madeline Jimenez said. “We had to be on our A game as soon as we came out.”

Villa Joseph Marie's Madeline Jimenez looks to shoot while Fleetwood's Emma Crissman looks to defend. (Sam Stewart - Digital First Media)

Villa Joseph Marie’s Madeline Jimenez looks to shoot while Fleetwood’s Emma Crissman looks to defend. (Sam Stewart – Digital First Media)

It was Fleetwood, however, who came close to a flying start as Emily Levan got space in the middle in the contest’s opening minute and unleashed a shot that looked set on being the opening tally. Instead, the left post denied the effort.

“We crack one of the post in 20 seconds or something, 30 seconds. That ball goes in the net, it’s a completely different game,” Fleetwood coach Mike Boyer said. “We’re playing with a lot of energy and they have their backs against the wall.”

The Jems (21-1-1) survived the early scare and broke through at 29:27at 29:57 as Erica Behr headed in a corner. Jimenez assisted on Murphy Agnew strike 5:06 later while Jimenez added a third goal 3:25 after that.

In the teams’ PIAA AA semifinal meeting in 2015, it took until double overtime for the Jems to collect the game’s lone goal. By the 19th minute Tuesday, Villa Joe was firmly in control and on its way to a state final matchup with District 7 champ Moon 4 p.m. Friday at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey.

Villa Joseph Marie's Murphy Agnew gains control while a Fleetwood defender watches during the second half. (Sam Stewart - Digital First Media)

Villa Joseph Marie’s Murphy Agnew gains control while a Fleetwood defender watches during the second half. (Sam Stewart – Digital First Media)

“Tonight, we knew the competition that we were going to be facing and we knew that first goal was going to be big,” Boyer said. “Coming back against a team like this is very difficult to do. We didn’t play, like the second half was a 0-0 game but we lapsed a little bit for a couple minutes and they take advantage for that.”

Moon edged District 7 runner-up Montour 1-0 at North Allegheny High School to reach its first PIAA title game since 2012 when it beat Archbishop Wood for the AA crown.

Villa Joseph Marie advanced to its fourth state final in the past six seasons. The previous three trips to Hershey were for the AA title, losing in 2011 and 2015 and winning in 2014.

“This is great, this our third year in a row for me as a junior and we’re ready to go back and we’re ready to win the state championship title,” Jimenez said.

Fleetwood finishes the season at 24-2 with the Tigers winning the Berks League and placed third in the District 3 tournament.

“We started three seniors out there so we’re going to have eight returning players coming back again,” Boyer said. “So hopefully we can give it another shot next year.”

Behr gave Villa Joseph Marie the 1-0 lead just past the 30-minute mark. Eva Ruppersbeger sent a corner kick to the back post where a wide-open Behr headed the ball into the net.

“It was great, it was such a good reassurance, but we knew we couldn’t stop there,” Jimenez said.

The Jems doubled the lead at 24:41 as Jimenez sent a cross in to the middle of the field that Agnew ran on to volley a shot into the right side of the goal.

“I knew my teammates were going to get in the box, we’re usually pretty good at that,” Jimenez said. “And I knew that I had to get the cross off quick if we wanted a quick goal.”

After assisting on the second goal, Jimenez provided the Jems’ third. After a ball was lofted in the Fleetwood 18-yard box, Jimenez knocked it away from a Tiger and with an open look at the net buried the chance at 21:27.

“I felt the opening space right at the net and I knew I just had to get that shot off,” she said. “There was no time to waste.”

Fleetwood had a few corner kick chances early in the second half, but could not produce anything off them. Villa Joseph Marie kept pushing for addition goals and came close.

Samantha Agnew got behind the defense on a give-and-go with Murphy Agnew but was denied by Fleetwood keeper Riley Scepansky. Murphy Agnew had a shot go through the box and wide right while a try by Jimenez was parried away by Scepansky for a corner.

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