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Defender Devers drives Perkiomen Valley to 1-0 win over Pottsgrove

LOWER POTTSGROVE >> The Perkiomen Valley girls’ soccer team seems like it’s trying to change its reputation.

Not that the reputation of being ‘defense first’ is a bad one, but the Vikings have visions of being more attack-minded this fall.

Even the defenders want in on the act.

That was a good thing Tuesday afternoon at Pottsgrove, too, as senior left back Alison Devers’ 40-yard thump 11 minutes into the game served as the lone score in Perkiomen Valley’s 1-0 Pioneer Athletic Conference divisional crossover win.

Perkiomen Valley’s Madison Reehl (8) and Pottsgrove’s Becca Delp (15) battle for a loose ball Tuesday. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

The goals may not have flowed Tuesday against a Pottsgrove side that is making noise as a contender in the Frontier Division, but the result was the type that leaves Perk Valley (1-1 Liberty, 2-1 PAC, 3-1 overall) optimistic.

“The season has been really good so far. It feels like our offense is something people need to look out for. In other years, it’s been our defense that has been stronger than our offense, but it kind of feels like it’s turning,” Devers said. “Our offense feels like it’s turning for the better.”

While the new identity remains a work in progress, the defense can still guide PV, which earned its third shutout in four contests with sophomore Riley Hill (five saves) in goal, taking over for the departed two-time Mercury All-Area first team goalkeeper Leslie Adams (Siena College). The Vikings have only conceded two goals thus far — both to last year’s PAC champion and PIAA semifinalist Owen J. Roberts.

“It feels like we still have a really solid back line, but now that we can work forward and score, it feels good to think that we can start winning games in the PAC and be a threat and move on to districts,” Devers said.

Perkiomen Valley’s Maddie Zielke (3) and Pottsgrove’s Lexi Zook (4) battle for a header Tuesday. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Pottsgrove (2-0, 2-1, 3-2) feels like an increasing threat on the local scene and Tuesday was further proof despite the result.

The Falcons created the better of the scoring chances in the second half, forward Skylar Glass going close after a long ball from Ciara Garcia 15 minutes into the second half and Emily Vishio’s header off the crossbar following a corner with 19:30 to play counting as the best. Hailey Strain, advanced from the back line for the closing stages, weaved in to close range in the final minute but Vishio’s attempt in traffic was denied by the PV defense, led by center backs Kate Liotta and Kat Kelley and defensive midfielder Maddie Zielke.

“We have only one senior (defender Sarah Rybacki), but have a lot of players who have played varsity more than two years. I’m encouraged,” Pottsgrove coach Steve Mellor said.

“(Perk Valley has) always handled us pretty well but I thought today we had more of the play and enough looks that we have at least tied the game.”

Pottsgrove’s Skylar Glass (19) plays a pass while being pressured by Perkiomen Valley defender Kat Kelley Tuesday. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

While Glass, junior midfielder Becca Delp and defenders Lana Sorg and Hailey Strain impressed, Pottsgrove faces the task of getting the results to match potential.

“In the preseason, we weren’t as hard as we usually are and I needed to remind them that you still have to play with a chip on your shoulder and compete, making sure you’re winning balls and pressuring teams,” Mellor said.

It was hard to expect needing to pressure Devers 40 yards from goal after Sydney Marasco’s long cross from the right was cleared. But the senior captain with the big boot played the ball back into the area, better than she even expected. The ball kept carrying into the upper-left corner of goal with Pottsgrove goalkeeper Summer Walker (four saves) only getting fingertips to it.

“It’s the outside back’s job to clean up the ball and play it back into the box,” Devers said. “Every now and then, it ends up going towards the goal. Maybe you’re looking for the cross but it ends up being a bit more, which feels really good especially because I haven’t scored many goals in the past.”

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