UPPER DUBLIN >> The Upper Dublin girls soccer team entered Tuesday’s game against Wissahickon without any losses. The Trojans went in with no wins. The game was at Upper Dublin.
Easy win for the Cardinals, right? Not quite.
After a scoreless first half, Upper Dublin scored two quick goals in the second, surrendered one to Wissahickon with 15 minutes left and made a few key stops to hold on to a 2-1 Suburban One League American Conference win over their rival from two miles down the road.
“It’s never easy against Wissahickon,” Upper Dublin coach John Topper said. “They’re always a good team and we always play extra hard against each other.
“A local rivalry win is always good.”
The Cardinals (3-0-1, 3-0-0) got the scoring started around 10 minutes after halftime.
Junior Emily Booth found classmate Tina Haig in front of the net and Haig put Upper Dublin on the board.
Just five minutes later, the Cardinals were at it again. This time, Molly Pappalardo took a shot and the rebound went straight to Julia Eustace, who buried it into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
The scoring was a welcome sight for Upper Dublin. In the first half they had plenty of opportunities — including two breakaways and a player all alone in front of the net with the ball — but they couldn’t score.
“In the first half we went out and did a lot of things we worked on (Monday),” Topper said. “We wanted to spread them out, move the ball around and it was a little bit frustrating because we did everything we were working on but finishing the ball. Early on I think we had good possession and that created a lot of opportunities for us. It was just frustrating to go into the half 0-0 when I think we could have had a couple, but they played a gritty second half, gutted it out, got the goals we needed.”
The Cardinals missed the net a couple times early on, but mostly it was Wissahickon goalie Quinn Klessel that kept the game scoreless. She made 12 saves in the game — five of which came in the first half.
“(Klessel) is just a sophomore,” Wissahickon coach Shannon Franke said. “All last year she was on varsity, however we had a terrific varsity goalie so she had to take a backseat. This year she came out swinging — starting goalie and it’s good to see her get better every time that she plays. She’s really come up key and clutch for us in all of the four games we’ve played.”
The Trojans (0-4-0, 0-3-0) scored in the 65th minute when Alexis Smith found the back of the net.
Smith had another chance in the final 10 minutes — one of the best scoring opportunities Wissahickon had all game — but couldn’t capitalize when two Upper Dublin defenders and the goaltender converged on her in front of the net.
Upper Dublin remains perfect in league play with the win — improving to 3-0.
“To have beaten Quakertown, Wissahickon and Cheltenham at this point — can’t ask for much better,” Topper said. “We can only take it one game at a time. We know PW is playing very well. They’re next up for us. That’s another team — it’s always a fight with them. We’re looking forward to it.”
The young Wissahickon team falls to 0-3 in SOL American play, but Franke likes the direction the team is heading.
“We’re getting better every day,” she said. “That was certainly the best I’ve seen them play this year. They came out with a little bit more determination than they have been showing — they didn’t wait all the way until the second half or near the end so I was happy with that.
“As a coach (improvement) is what you want to see, right? You want to get better every day that you play. They started off a little bit timid in the beginning of the season and this is our fourth game. Every game we’ve just been building on some of our successes and learning from our mistakes.”
Upper Dublin 2, Wissahickon 1
Wissahickon 0 1 — 1
Upper Dublin 0 2 — 2
Goals: W: Alexis Smith. UD: Tina Haig, Julia Eustace.
Assists: UD: Emily Booth, Molly Pappalardo.
Saves: W: Quinn Klessel 12. UD: Devon Jones 3.