GRATERFORD >> The Boyertown and Perkiomen Valley girls soccer teams have both battled inconsistency this season.
So when the two teams faced off Monday in a Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division matchup, the game was fittingly inconsistent.
After the Vikings owned the first 40 minutes and took a one-goal lead into halftime, the Bears broke out in the second half with a swarming performance that was rewarded when senior Corinne Renninger struck home the decisive goal in the 58th minute of Boyertown’s 2-1 victory at Perk Valley.
Renninger’s winner, assisted by Grace Conover, came after a dominant stretch following sophomore Maddie Monka’s hopeful effort that got the Bears on the board in the 47th minute. It cancelled out Perkiomen Valley’s well-earned first goal from Taylor Reiff, who volleyed home Sydney Marasco’s free kick in the 10th minute.
For Boyertown (3-2 PAC Liberty, 6-2 PAC, 6-5 overall), what started as a Monday grind game turned into much more with its renewed effort in the second half.
“I think it’s the first step and I hope it can start something,” senior midfielder Renninger said. “It will get everyone on the same page.”
“We needed that for our confidence,” senior forward Kaleigh Gallagher said. “Our confidence has been low at times, but I think that was a confidence booster for all of us.”
With Spring-Ford and Owen J. Roberts out in front of the PAC Liberty Division, the Bears-Vikings meeting was crucial in the scope of the league’s Final Four as a large pack chases the final wild-card position.
Perk Valley (2-3, 4-4, 5-5) has elevated itself this season into the PAC and District 1 playoff conversations but fell into what coach Kim Paulus-McCabe felt was a crisis of confidence when leading a Boyertown team that has long had its number.
“To me it’s about belief, belief that we can beat teams that we haven’t traditionally beaten in the past,” she said. “There’s potential here. I’m super proud of what they’ve accomplished so far, but there’s still more I want them to get and I want them to believe that they can. I think they’re getting there but there are those little moments of doubt that they have to knock out. They have to get a big win and they have the potential to do it.”
The ‘big win’ looked within reach through the first 40 minutes as the Vikings created many chances with junior Marasco serving as the primary outlet with crosses from the right side. The Vikings out-shot the Bears 7-4 in the first half, conceding just one shot on goal from Gallagher that was parried well by All-Area first team goalkeeper Leslie Adams.
For two teams not traditionally known for their attacking verve, Monday’s match was an open, attacking affair. It especially was in the second half in Boyertown’s favor when they essentially played a high press with only two defenders.
“It was kind of crazy when we went to two in the back, it was like, ‘Oh my God, this is so wide,’ but the girls up top really put in work,” Boyertown senior defender Shana Kabinoff said. “It really worked out.”
The Bears were all over the Vikings in the second half, out-shooting them 14-5. They caught a stroke of good fortune on Monka’s bending, dipping strike that dropped into the far corner of goal from 20 yards out, a reward for sustained pressure largely created by Renninger, Gallagher and Conover.
“When everybody is going for it, it makes everything better. The first half was spotty but in the second half we really went at it,” Renninger said.
Adams (five saves) made an outstanding low save on a left-footed Gallagher shot that was followed by PV’s best chance of the half when Bears goalkeeper Mattie Gallagher was caught out trying to collect the ball. Kelsey Marino struck for net but Bears’ defender Aurora Conrad saved it off the line.
Boyertown took the game for good in the 58th minute when Gallagher won the ball off a PV defender and played in Conover down the left side. She centered to a crashing, wide-open Renninger, who took a touch around Adams and fired into the open net for the game-winner.
“I thought we were going to get rewarded (for the second-half effort),” Gallagher said. “We weren’t going to get rewarded in the first half because we didn’t deserve it.”
NOTES >> Boyertown sits 27th in the District 1-AAAA power rankings with Perkiomen Valley in 23rd after Monday’s result. … Boyertown led in corner kicks, 4-2, and shots on goal 7-5. … The Bears have consistently been district playoff qualifiers, but the Vikings haven’t had the same fortune, which they’ve try to change down the stretch. “I have to put things in perspective though. Three years ago, our senior class won three games. Then they doubled it, then they tripled it,” Paulus-McCabe said. “Now they are in this position and they see districts on the horizon and it’s a belief that they can beat teams that have traditionally been above us.”
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