POTTSTOWN >> Kenzie Milne was fighting for the ball on the endline.
The Owen J Roberts junior managed to come out of a battle against a Souderton defender with the ball at her foot and she took the chance to play it back into the box. It’s something she’s tried to do all season and it paid off.
Milne had two assists to Mahogany Willis and scored a spectacular goal of her own as No. 2 OJR topped visiting No. 7 Souderton 4-1 in the District 1-4A girls’ soccer quarterfinals Saturday night.
“Mahogany and I were just working really well together tonight,” Milne said. “We connected and that gave us opportunities. Our intensity was really high in the first half and it carried into the second half.”
Souderton got a great start, with Cara McCausland and Tori Dowd nearly connecting right off the whistle, denied only by a few fingertips of OJR keeper Samantha Hughes. The Indians kept at it and Allie Trick cashed in after winning her own ball on the endline and chipping to the far post with 34:20 left in the opening half.
Once Owen J Roberts settled into the game, the PAC champions really changed the pace of the entire match. The Wildcats started beating Souderton to 50/50 balls and in tackles, not only disrupting the Indians, but starting to build their own chances.
After Milne won that ball and served it in, Willis was there to hammer it home from inside the box after shaking free from her markers.
“Coach (Joe Margusity) keeps telling me to go down line to the near post and pass it back and hopefully someone will be there,” Milne said. “Mahogany was there for me both times.”
Willis scored the game-winner off another endline cross from Milne with 13:34 left in the first half after tying it with 22:43 left in the first half.
The teams played in the preseason with Souderton coming out on top, so giving up an early goal only seemed to fire up the host Wildcats.
“Right after we scored, they got angry and you could see they turned it up,” Souderton coach Chris Felber said. “We were losing every 50/50 right after we scored and they were coming all over us and getting to the outside of us. It took me two different shapes how to get the right balance and stop them from getting around the outside of us and still be moving forward.”
OJR also got a first-half spark from sophomore Veronica Roach, who came off the bench and started attacking spaces in Souderton’s opening formation.
“They were playing a 4-3-3 and we came into the game a little off-balance,” Roach said. “We didn’t come in with the pace we could have come in with but we just picked it up. This is our house and we didn’t want to give it away.”
Roach said once the Wildcats saw the spaces in Souderton’s formation, especially on the wing, they were able to start playing more to those areas and start putting the Indians on their heels.
“Julia Dalton carried the midfield and kept winning tackles and that picked up all of our intensity,” Milne said. “We were able to carry on from there and win a lot of tackles which helped.”
Souderton switched to a 4-4-2 formation and late in the first half, the Indians found a couple of scoring chances. On the first, Trick got in behind the defense on a run into the right side of the box. As the junior closed toward the net, Hughes came off her line and blocked Trick’s shot, but her momentum carried the keeper into a collision.
Trick went down and while she was able to walk off, did not return to the match. Erin O’Keefe came in and played well, but losing Trick was a major blow to Souderton’s attack.
“We tried to play the same,” Felber said. “Losing her hurts, she’s our main goal threat.”
Souderton started the second half with good energy, but couldn’t score off two corner kicks and again lost the advantage when Milne made another big play. This time, the junior didn’t set up a goal, but scored one when she crushed a shot from the right side into the upper corner of the net on the far post.
Aside from putting OJR up two goals, it forced Souderton to start putting numbers forward and allowed the Wildcats to keep playing aggressively in the midfield.
“I saw space and the goalie on the near post so I figured why not shoot to the far post and see what happened,” Milne said. “I felt we were more secured and could relax more and focus on our defending.”
Senior Caroline Thompson added the final goal on a roughly 20-yard free kick that went into the net with nine seconds remaining.
OJR will host No. 3 Pennsbury in Wednesday’s semifinal while Souderton drops into a playback with No. 6 Council Rock South. Pennsbury beat CR South 1-0 Saturday afternoon.
“We have to dust it off,” Felber said. “We can’t harp about it, we have to move on. Council Rock South is another defensively strong team. It’s probably a different type of game but we have to go out there, play our game and try to find a few goals.”
The Wildcats checked another box off Saturday by securing a state playoff bid with the win and now will try to continue their run toward a district title.
“This year more than anything we realized we all want it more than anything,” Roach said. “We all have a common goal and we know what we’re willing to do to reach it.”
OWEN J ROBERTS 2 2 – 4
SOUDERTON 1 0 – 1
Goals: OJR – Mahogany Willis (Kenzie Milne), Willis (Milne), Milne, Caroline Thompson; S – Allie Trick. Shots: OJR – 7, S – 5. Saves: OJR – Samantha Hughes 4, S – Lindsey Pazdziroko 3. Corners: OJR – 3, S – 3