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Groff scores twice, Pennridge rolls past William Tennent on Senior Night

Pennridge girls soccer senior poses for a photo after the Rams' 5-1 win over William Tennent on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. From left: Carly Musco, Missy Gibson, Lauren Plezia, Gillian Anderson. coach Audrey Anderson, Liz Cardie. Caroline Thomson, Courtney Supp, Abby Ciampa. (Mike Cabrey/Digital First Media)

EAST ROCKHILL >> Being in the right place to score made it a great Senior Night for Pennridge’s Lauren Plezia. That the Rams girls soccer team rolled to a win Monday made it even better.

“It was really cool,” said Plezia of her second goal of the season. “I was just happy we were able to pull off a win and really make the night special.”

A little more than 10 minutes after William Tennent went down to 10 players after a straight red card to goalkeeper Emily Vickalitis, Abby Ciampa’s shot rang off the crossbar. But Plezia kept going forward and was in the perfect position to head a ball over the goal line with 3:58 left in the first half.

“I’m just trying to get up there cause I there’s a possibility it’s not going to go in,” she said. “Then it goes off the crossbar and I just take advantage of the opportunity and put it in.”

The Rams keep putting ball in the back of the net, scoring four times in the first 20 minutes after halftime — the last two by seniors Liz Cardie and Caroline Thomson  — as Pennridge topped the visiting Panthers 5-1.

“It feels good,” said Cardie of her goal. “I’ve been waiting for one all season and on Senior Night when my family’s here and all my friends that I’ve played with for years, it was good to have one.”

Abby Groff scored in the span of less than a minute for the first two goals of the second half as Pennridge (12-2-2, 7-2-2 conference) won its fourth straight, avenged an earlier loss to Tennent and moved closer to defending its Continental title.

“They’re so nice, these girls are so nice, so I wanted so badly for them to win the game,” said Rams coach Audrey Anderson of her teams’ eight seniors. “They got a goal for themselves as a team, they got goals as individuals, but most of these seniors, if not all of them, have played together since they were little. So they’re such a nice group of kids, I just wanted them to have the victory as a team together.”

Pennridge and Central Bucks South came into Monday tied for first place in the conference, but with the Titans’ 2-0 loss to North Penn, the Rams control their own fate for the championship, taking it outright with a win at North Penn 3:45 p.m. Thursday.

“Just because we were like underdogs it would be so cool to continue the legacy and keep winning,” Plezia said.

While lighter on experience after graduating 11 from last season’s side that reached the District 1-4A final, all these Rams have done is go out and continued the program’s success — with only Tennent (3-2 Sept. 26) and CB South (1-0 Oct. 4) getting the better of them so far in 2017. Pennridge began Monday fourth in the district power rankings, which would give it a first-round bye in the 24-team tournament.

“I think at the end of every season we talk about what do we want to leave behind for the rest of the players that are still here. And you know, it’s always the same message, they always want to leave behind the fact that you fight for every game and you don’t quit. And I think this shows it,” Anderson said. “We could of been like ‘Oh we lost to them the first time, we’re going to lose,’ but they came out, they wanted to win. Again, they got goals for the season, these last three games are going set the tone for us in postseason.”

William Tennent avoided the shutout on Erin McDonald’s goal with 4:09 but the loss was the third straight for the Panthers, which came in 15th in the district rankings. Tennent has two games remaining — home against Souderton 7 p.m. Wednesday and on the road against New Hope-Solebury 7 p.m. Friday.

“We need to win at least one of them, to get going,” Hontz said. “If for some reason we lose both, it’s going to be tight where we end up. But we just want to win one of the next two games.”

William Tennent went down to 10 players at 14:23 in the first half as goalie Vickalitis fouled Groff on a breakaway in the Panthers’ 18-yard box. The Rams got a penalty kick and Vickalitis was given a red for denying a clear goalscoring chance. Ashley Groeber hit the crossbar on the PK and the game stayed scoreless until Plezia’s header.

“You can’t go down a player against Pennridge, being No. 1 in the area,” Panthers coach Bill Hontz said. “We went for it, we tried for it, we were in it and then the unfortunate foul — it was a foul, I’m not going to argue that.”

Tennent (9-6-0, 5-6-0) came close to pulling even in the last minute of the first half. A loose ball in the box found its way to Ashley Rivera and her shot towards the lower left corner needed a diving save for Rams keeper Mary Kate Levush to keep it out.

“We wanted to get to half 0-0, unfortunately that didn’t happen cause with soccer there’s no timeouts and at that time you need a timeout,” Hontz said. “But wanted to get to half 0-0, almost made it.”

Groff made it 2-0 Rams at 31:24 in the second half, touching the ball around a defender and driving into the 18-yard box before unleashing a shot Tennent keeper Jessica Jara got a hand on, but it wasn’t enough to stop the ball from getting into the net.

Just 49 seconds later, Pennridge was up 3-0 as Groeber found Groff to her right and Groff collected her second with a one-timer at 30:35.

“I like that from Abby because I think she needs it as much as the team needs it,” Anderson said. “We talk about being consistent when we’re scoring and I think tonight, I mean William Tennent’s a really good team and for her to get those scoring opportunities — I mean, she had a lot, she was working hard tonight. So, I was happy she scored those two in such as short amount of time. We joked when she came off, I was like, ‘Huh, two goals in two minutes, I’ll take it.”

Thomson extended the lead to 3-0 at 21:49 on a penalty kick given when senior Missy Gibson was fouled in the box and Thomson placed her PK into the lower left corner.

Cardie’s goal came 51 seconds later, as she chased down a rebound after a Gibson shot was stopped and knocked it in at 20:58.

Coach and Mom

Anderson had double duty Senior Night, not just being the coach but getting involved in the pregame ceremony as a parent, as her daughter Gillian was one of the eight players recognized.

“I joke around, I’m not a big crier, I was a little emotional,” Audrey Anderson said. “My daughter plays basketball and she wanted to play her senior on the soccer field. I wanted the opportunity to coach both of my kids in one game. That was my goal. She did me a favor to play and it was nice, it was a nice moment. I’ve been part of them (senior nights) as a coach, never as a parent, so I enjoyed it.”

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