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Pope John Paul II pounds Phoenixville, 7-1

PHOENIXVILLE >> The Pope John Paul II girls soccer team had built a big lead on Phoenixville before.

This time, there was not going to be any letting up.

With last year’s 4-3 overtime defeat – after holding a 3-0 lead – serving as constant motivation, the Golden Panthers were relentless Wednesday afternoon in dispatching Phoenixville 7-1 at Washington Field.

Everything seemed to click into place for Pope John Paul II (2-0 PAC, 2-0 overall) in a game that matched last year’s top two finishers in the Pioneer Athletic Conference Frontier Division. Liz Kropp and Kayla Mesaros each scored twice while Avery Cotter (assisted by Julia Owens), Carson Tracy and Mary Kate Shannon added solo scores as PJP scored seven goals unanswered after Phoenixville’s Jesi Rossman put her team on the board less than six minutes into the game.

“We didn’t expect to win by that much … but it was pretty nice,” said Cotter, a senior midfielder. “That was the first time all year we’ve played that well, so it was pretty surprising, but hopefully we keep it up. It is probably going to motivate us ever more because we know what we’re capable of.”

Pope John Paul II’s Avery Cotter scores a goal on a corner kick by Julia Owens during the first half against Phoenixville on Wednesday. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Cotter, a Villanova commit, has rejoined the Golden Panthers for her senior year after skipping the past two years in part due to a broken hip suffered in club soccer after her freshman year.

She provides a boost to an already senior-heavy squad that is in for an outstanding year if Wednesday was any indication.

It wasn’t all seniors playing a big role for PJP though: sophomore goalkeeper Stacy Kormos (eight saves) stepped in admirably for starter Colleen Morton (out for an indefinite amount of time after being injured Tuesday against Penncrest).

“It has to be nerve-wracking coming in as a backup keeper,” Mesaros said of Kormos. “We have a team full of personalities so it can be intimidating, but I’m proud of the way she came in.”

“When we play Phoenixville we all get heated up, especially because of what happened last year. That made us better,” Kormos said. “It was huge. It was a good booster for the team.”

The Phantoms struck first on a 35-yard free kick from Kelli Olsson that Rossman got on the end of underneath the defense.

Pope John Paul II’s Kayla Mesaros tries to dribble around Phoenixville goalkeeper Hannah Sands in the first half Wednesday. Mesaros’ shot was saved off the line by a Phoenixville defender. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

PJP struck back within two minutes with Kropp being played down the left side by Mesaros (three assists). Less than four minutes later the Golden Panthers took the lead for good on a Julia Owens corner kick headed in by Cotter. They were out of sight when Shannon and Tracy scored in quick succession to go up 4-1 with 15 minutes until halftime.

Mesaros, who is headed to St. John’s, is used to carrying the scoring load the last handful of seasons for PJP.

“It was so nice to be up 4-1 and I hadn’t even scored yet,” said Mesaros, a returning All-Area first team forward. “I like having assists, setting up plays and I like that other people are able to get on the end of it. It will make us more dangerous this year.”

Not do go quietly though, she did get her pair in the second half, the first on a penalty kick less than two minutes after the break, then capping the scoring with 23:41 remaining.

“I was worried the second half because obviously last year we were up 3-0 and they came back and beat us 4-3 so this year to just pound on them the whole 80 minutes was great,” Mesaros said.

After winning the PAC Frontier Division last year, the Phantoms (0-1, 0-2) are a work in progress after graduating some key pieces, especially on defense.

“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. We have a lot of young kids and kids who don’t play club soccer so we’re trying to teach right now and that’s a tough spot to be in against a team that starts 10 seniors,” head coach Tim Raub said. “We’ve been on the other end of that but now we’re rebuilding and we’re trying to do what we can to get back in line. We’re going to have some ups, we’re going to have some downs; it’s not going to be the consistent team we’ve had, but we’re going to try to get there.”

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