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Phoenixville blanks Pope John Paul II, keeps in PAC playoff hunt

PHOENIXVILLE >> As the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s regular season hits the home stretch, every game and every point becomes that much more important.

No need to remind Phoenixville head coach Claire Emplit and her field hockey team.

The Phantoms put together a dominant effort over visiting Pope John Paul II on Wednesday afternoon to keep themselves in the hunt of the PAC Final Four playoffs by defeating the Golden Panthers, 6-0.

Ameerah Green

“We’re starting to trust each other and seeing the entire field a lot better than we did at the start of the season,” said Emplit. “We’re using the outside of the field and our baseline, then crossing it into the goal. That’s something we’ve been working on all season.”

Perfect timing for the pieces to start coming together, right coach?

“It’s been really good to see their progression,” she added.

With the win, Phoenixville (8-6 overall) moves to 5-2 in the PAC’s Frontier Division and 6-4 against PAC opponents. The result puts them within elbow space of Liberty Division foes Owen J. Roberts and Spring-Ford as all three teams will look to make a final push for the remaining two playoff spots. Under the new playoff format, one leader will be selected from each division, followed by the next two teams with the best records regardless of division.

The loss drops PJP (4-8 overall) to 4-3 against Frontier opponents and 4-6 against PAC opponents.

Junior forward Ameerah Green finished with a pair of goals, including the game’s opening goal just over 90 seconds in with a feed from Aubrie Breisblatt. Gabby Herschell scored on a textbook lift shot during the Phantoms’ first corner try less than two minutes later.

From there, Phoenixville was off and running

“I usually end up taking most of our corner shots,” said Herschell, who serves as the main facilitator during the Phantoms’ offensive possession. “I try to distribute it to the forwards when we have the ball. We’re constantly pushing the offense each game.”

“We’ve been working well as a team, getting the ball up the field,” said Green. “All of our players have been spreading out and using the entire field. That’s opening things up for our offense.”

Breisblatt, Herschell and Cassidy Stevens each finished with a goal and an assist before Cameron Daisy scored off a feed from Brianna Battista with 14 minutes left to close out the scoring.

Phoenixville was in total control throughout, racking up 18 corner tries while limiting PJP to just three for the game. The Golden Panthers didn’t get the ball into the scoring circle until the 11th minute, and from there never generated any substantial offense. The Phantoms also out-shot the Golden Panthers 14-0, keeping Tyler Hall’s job pretty comfortable in goal as she picked up her sixth shutout of the season.

“Not our best today,” said first-year PJP head coach Meghan Kugler, “but we’re coming along. Our team has been willing to learn together all season, so it’s been up and down so far.”

PJP keeper Maggie Sullivan was a strong point in the cage where she finished with nine saves, including a run of three during Phoenixville’s late offensive press at the end of the first half.

As the PAC playoffs loom almost two weeks away, Emplit and the Phantoms don’t plan to change anything about their approach to the final stretch of the season.

“One game at a time,” she said. “We don’t like to worry about those kind of things — I want to get them working on things that we need to work on each game. We’ll worry about PACs when we get there.”

NOTES >> At this point, Upper Perkiomen (6-0 PAC Frontier, 8-1 PAC overall) is well on its way to claiming the Frontier Division; same with Methacton (6-0 PAC Liberty, 9-0 PAC overall) in the Liberty Division … Phoenixville’s certainly got a favorable record against PAC opponents the rest of the way — Pottstown, Pottsgrove and Upper Merion — all of whom they beat this season by a combined score of 18-1.

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