ROYERSFORD >> Ella Curry stepped to the penalty spot intent on giving the Spring-Ford girls soccer team the lead in a scoreless match.
But the blood on her right knee conspired against her, forced to leave the game to have it addressed.
“I wanted to take it but then my knee was bleeding so I had to come off. It was disappointing,” the Rams’ sophomore said, “but I got another one.”
Such was the good fortune of Spring-Ford in their District 1 Class 4A quarterfinal against Quakertown Saturday that Curry was able to later step to the penalty spot and put a goal on the board for the Rams, their fourth tally in a dominant 6-0 victory at Coach McNelly Stadium to clinch spots in the district semifinals and the PIAA tournament.
Final: Spring-Ford 6, Quakertown 0, District 1 4A girls soccer playoffs. Rams clinch states and semifinal spot (vs Neshaminy) pic.twitter.com/r6YFoqgxlc
— Austin Hertzog (@AustinHertzog) October 28, 2017
Senior midfielder Gabby Kane scored twice, including the first penalty kick in the 20th minute, while Curry and Olivia Yeagle had a goal and an assist each. Ashley Hudak also scored while the Rams’ sixth score came on an own goal following a corner kick from Shannon Dougherty.
Spring-Ford (16-4-1), the No. 9 seed, will host No. 13 Neshaminy – a 1-0 winner over Unionville on Saturday – in the district semifinals Wednesday at 7 p.m.
“We’re very excited to keep moving on,” junior center back Claire Sites said. “Now we’re definitely in states and I’m really excited and I know everyone else is, too.”
Spring-Ford has regained the form it found earlier in the season and clinched a place in the PIAA tournament for the fourth time in five years, in the most emphatic manner of any of the four occasions.
Quakertown (15-6) was unable to replicate the magic it found in knocking off No. 1 seed Pennridge in penalty kicks in the previous round. The Panthers enter into playbacks for the district’s fifth and final spot for states. They will visit No. 4 Unionville on Wednesday.
“At this level, from the last round on we need to commit to defend all over the field,” Quakertown coach Mike Koch said.” We’re not necessarily going to possess the ball like Spring-Ford does. It’s a young team and they may have started to believe the headlines – ‘Hey, we beat the No. 1 team (Pennridge)’ – so it’s a definite smack down to reality. We need to get back and compete if we’re going to stay with these teams.
“It’s a bit of a slap in the face right now, but as we move forward I’m hopeful we can regain what put us in this position.”
The Rams dominated throughout, out-shooting the Panthers 11-2 (18-3 in total shots). The breakthrough came in fortuitous fashion when Lily Nowakowski had her heel inadvertently clipped in the penalty area when chasing a over-hit cross into the corner. Curry initially stepped to the spot, only to have to exit. Kane stepped up and went down the middle as Quakertown keeper Morgan Small (five saves) dove to her right.
Spring-Ford made it 2-0 with 7:45 until halftime as Curry carried the ball down the right side to the end line and crossed to Yeagle for a tap in.
Kane headed in a bounced cross from KK O’Donnell less than six minutes into the second half and the Rams were on their way up 3-0.
“After you start putting the first few goals in it starts to break down the other team and picks up our confidence and that came through for us tonight,” Sites said.
Curry got her PK at the 29:37 mark of the second half after being fouled on the edge of the area. She tucked it into the lower right corner of goal for the 4-0 lead. Hudak tapped in from a Yeagle short cross to complete a nice team goal for 5-0.
“I think it was a great team effort,” Curry said.
Spring-Ford goes as deep as any team in the state and nearly the entire 27-player roster saw action, a key to the Rams’ longevity according to Sites.
“We’re starting to play into November and we’re still really healthy, which is really good,” she said. “I’m not tired right now and I think that goes for a lot of people. I think we’re staying healthy and doing what we can to keep playing. We have so many capable players to fill in and that’s really helped us stay in it this season.”
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