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Villa Joseph Marie blanks Gwynedd Mercy

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LOWER GWYNEDD >> A team determined to make it back to the state final, Villa Joseph Marie moved a few toe taps closer on Thursday, recording a 6-0 shutout of rival Gwynedd Mercy to strengthen its hold on the Catholic Academies League.

“It was a pretty good win,” said junior Ciara Rago, who scored twice for the Jems. “Our passes were working, getting it up top, and we were able to finish.

“I like how we’re playing. I like that we’re being aggressive, and we’re getting the wins.”

State Runner-Ups in Class 3A a season ago, Villa is hitting its stride as the regular season begins to wind down.

“Villa Joe is the measuring stick,” said Monarchs coach Derik Stover, who directed GMA to 3A districts last fall and has them headed back this season. “You know where you stand when you play Villa Joe.

“They’re extremely well coached by Rich (Finneyfrock) and they have outstanding players. We have to always be at our best, to see how we can compete with them. We’ll learn from it.”

The Monarchs (6-3-2) will get another shot at Villa on Oct. 16. The two teams went scoreless through the first 27 minutes on Thursday, until Maddy Crozier scored off a header, from a well-placed corner kick by Jacqueline Levins.

The Jems doubled their lead to 2-0 shortly before the half when Rago got to a loose ball and knocked it past Monarchs keeper Jaime Hynes.

GMA, playing its eighth game in nine days, still got some solid performances throughout, including that of Cailin Panacek, a senior defender who has been one of GMA’s most valuable players thus far.

Villa was able to pull away in the second half, with Sam Agnew going far corner to extend the margin to 3-0. Back-to-back goals by Riley Regan — in a span of 1:19 — made it 5-0 and then Rago capped the scoring for Villa, off an assist from Maggie Hensel.

“We felt pretty good about this one because (GMA) was (6-0-2) coming into the week,” Rago said.

Morgan Murphy got the shutout in net for the Jems, who won Round One against their rival.

“Our girls will be prepared for the next one,” Stover said, “and we’ll see what happens.”

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