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Pennridge blanks North Penn, clinches SOL Continental title

Pennridge's Chance Hendricks (7) celebrates with teammates after scoring the first goal of the Rams' game against North Penn on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

TOWAMENCIN >> After remaining pretty low key even after the final whistle, emotions began to spill over for the Pennridge girls soccer team, thoughts of a conference title finally sinking in.

“I think it’s pretty sick, and epic,” said a smiling Chance Hendricks. “I’m glad to win it with this bunch of girls.”

Strong midfield play — and a tremendous shot by Hendricks — were at the heart of Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over North Penn, a victory that locked up the Suburban One League Continental Conference title for the Rams, their second in a row and sixth in the last seven years, including five under coach Audrey Anderson.

Pennridge, anticipating plenty of celebrating on the bus ride home, closed out its Continental schedule a conference-best 8-2-2 after taking North Penn’s best shot and managing to land two of its own.

“I really don’t expect any game to be easy in this conference,” Anderson said, “so we’ll take the win.”

Pennridge’s Molly Groff wins the battle for possession against North Penn’s Meghan Coulton during their game on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

Hendricks’ long-range score about 15 minutes in — off an assist from freshman defender Maddie Angelo — helped point the Rams (13-2-2) in the right direction.

“We were pretty focused, a little bit nervous,” she said of her team coming in. “When (that ball) came out, I’m like, ‘I can hit it from here.’”

Hendricks scored from about the same exact spot earlier this fall.

“It was a nice boost of energy to get us going, to have a nice goal early,” she said.

Pennridge got the early edge despite North Penn (5-11-1, 2-9-1 conference) putting on plenty of pressure. The half ended with Rams defender Molly Groff knocking a loose ball out of the box before the Knights could get a foot on it.

North Penn’s Olivia Urban beats Pennridge’s Lindsey DeHaven to a head ball during their game on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

North Penn generated chances but couldn’t quite connect.

“I thought we had the better of it in the first half but they have a good midfield,” said Knights coach Steve Whitby, whose young squad made some nice strides in the later part of the season. “I felt like we were completely in that game. I didn’t think we were outmatched at all.

“They had a couple quality strikes that got behind our goalie (Ashley Schmidt) and we really didn’t really get any good, quality chances other than the few that went over the bar.”

North Penn continued its push into the second half but the Rams got some separation midway through, when freshman Lindsey DeHaven found the foot of junior Abby Groff, feeding a pass through to her and Groff knocked it in for a 2-0 lead with 21 minutes to play.

“Lindsey DeHaven has done a lot of really good things for us this season and Abby Groff, I’m happy she’s scoring this late in the season,” Anderson said. “She needs that going into the playoffs.”

Pennridge’s Meghan Criney traps the ball with her chest in front of North Penn’s Olivia Urban during their game on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

The Pennridge defense and goalie Mary Kate Levush held on for the shutout, which locked up another conference championship for the Rams. They had lost 11 seniors from last year’s team, pegging this team as an underdog.

“It started firing them up a little bit,” Anderson said, “so I think that was part of the motivation for fighting so hard this season.”

With veteran leaders along with contributing youngsters like DeHaven and Hendricks, Pennridge still wears the crown.

“We’ve won it a lot so it’s great to continue on the legacy,” Hendricks said. “We’re really excited (for the playoffs), ready to get in there and mix it up with some teams.”



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