FRANCONIA >> With the Pennridge and Souderton girls soccer team combining for few scoring chances Tuesday afternoon, Rams freshman Lindsey DeHaven knew she couldn’t waste hers.
“When Abby Groff passed me a beautiful ball I was like, “This is my opportunity. I’ve got to finish this,’” DeHaven said.
Receiving a pass in the middle of the field, Groff spun and tapped a ball to her right, into the path of the charging DeHaven, who knocked a shot into the opposite left corner to finally end the scoreless tie midway through overtime and give Pennridge a 1-0 Suburban One League Continental Conference victory of the host Indians.
“It feels amazing to finally win a game,” DeHaven said. “We needed this win and the way we worked as a team was just incredible, feels great to be a part of this team because we all just put the work in, get it done and celebrate.”
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) October 10, 2017
DeHaven’s goal gets the Rams (9-2-2, 5-2-2 conference) back on track after hitting a snag at the end of last week – falling to Central Bucks South 1-0 last Wednesday then playing a 0-0 draw with Central Bucks East last Friday. It was the longest stretch without a win for Pennridge since losing to Souderton then tying North Penn in September 2015.
“I think any team that we play in this conference (the game) could go to either team,” Rams coach Audrey Anderson said. “I mean I would hope it would go our way. But no, I don’t look at our losses or our ties as ‘Oh my God, what happened,’ it’s a learning experience cause the majority of our players this year are new to varsity or new to the field, so it’s a learning experience for them.
“They haven’t been through this before where Courtney Supp has been or Caroline Thompson has been, but the majority of the other girls they haven’t.”
DeHaven is one of the Rams learning in the middle of tight conference race, as is sophomore Lauren McIntyre, who is usually a forward but played against the Indians was at center back and helped Pennridge post its 10th shutout.
“We didn’t give them too much time down the middle, so I think that helped us,” McIntyre said.
For Souderton (9-4-0, 5-4-0), the loss was its second straight after the Indians strung together seven wins in a row after their 1-0 overtime loss to the Rams Sept. 14 at Helman Field
“We didn’t seem our usual self. We were slow, didn’t seem to have intensity,” Souderton coach Chris Felber said. “Both teams played almost the similar shape, so we were pretty much man-to-man all over the place, I don’t know if we both cancelled each other out. They didn’t seem their usual self either.
“Yeah, it’s three games we just have to score first that we’ve lost, we score first and we win. I don’t know we’re struggling to unlock it just now.”
Tuesday started with the top five teams in the SOL Continental separated by just three points. CB South’s 1-0 win over William Tennent kept the Titans in first at 20 points with Pennridge alone in second at 17. Souderton, Tennent and CB East – which fell 1-0 to Central Bucks West – sit tied for third on 15 points.
The Rams also got a boost in the District 1-4A playoff rankings with the victory, moving up to two spots from fifth to third.
“Honestly, and my team will say the same thing, we did not expect to come into this season where we’re at now,” Anderson said. “We had heard other teams were like, ‘Oh Pennridge will be lucky if they finish in the top five of the conference,’ so I think that motivated the girls a little bit. But they’re fighting hard, they’re trying to put things together and I think as we keep going, we’ll get better.
“As long as we don’t sit back and relax and I think, ‘Oh, all the hard games are over,’ because there are no easy games in our conference.”
Souderton dropped from seventh to 10th in the distract rankings, putting the Indians at the moment out of a top eight seed that gets a first-round bye in the 24-team tournament.
Both teams have SOL Continental road matchups at 7 p.m. Thursday – Pennridge visits CB West while Souderton is at North Penn.
The Indians’ best opportunity for a goal came on the second of back-to-back corner kicks in the second half. The ball sent into the box was punch upwards by Rams goalkeeper Marty Kate Levush and drifted towards the net before headed away at the goal line by Molly Graff.
“There wasn’t a lot of chances,” Felber said. “First game we played, both teams had a ton of chances and as the game went on I thought we were the better team in the first game and we could have won it. This game, I don’t think either team really was able to create chances. It almost looked like it was going to finish 0-0. Obviously they get a breakaway and then they get in.”
Pennridge put a couple shots on frame in the first half, but the Rams’ best scoring chance was DeHaven’s and the freshman came through for her side in the fifth minute of the extra period.
The goal began with Pennridge winning the ball in the midfield. Ashley Groeber got free after a give-and-go with Thompson then played a ball forward to Abby Groff. Collecting the OT winner in the teams’ last matchup, Abby Groff this time earned the assist as she connected with DeHaven.
“We won it out of the air and then we settled it and connected passes,” DeHaven said. “Great give-and-go passes to lead to a breakaway and we finished it. It was perfect.”