EAST ROCKHILL >> As her team went out for the start of the second overtime period, Pennridge girls soccer coach Audrey Anderson made an observation.
She turned to assistant Liz Van Beek and noted there were just two seniors among the 11 Rams players. This certainly wasn’t last year’s senior-laded team. But the kids also more than held their own.
Pennridge could count itself unlucky but the Rams were looking at Friday’s double overtime 0-0 draw with Central Bucks South as a positive result.
“I’m very encouraged,” Pennridge senior center back Courtney Supp said. “We fought right to the very last minute and I thought everyone put in their best effort. Even though we didn’t get the goal, I was proud of our performance. CB South also played a great game and I’m excited to play them again.”
Supp, one of the team’s few returning starters, had her hands full all game tangling with South’s exceptional senior forward Aleksa Peev. Last year, the Titans Rams split their regular season meetings, then tied in a District 1 semifinal with Pennridge advancing on penalty kicks. So, it wasn’t a stretch to figure on another tight game even with both teams having different looks.
The Titans graduated an all-state keeper in Sophia Boggs, but her understudy Maddie McShane didn’t miss a beat, making 10 saves, several of them of a high-degree of difficulty. McShane’s best stop came in the first half with about 25 minutes left when she was left on an island against Pennridge’s Abby Groff.
Groff fired, but McShane managed to put a good hand on it and saved it, with center back Amanda Krysko sweeping in to clear a second shot off the goal line.
“It was a good result, when we play Pennridge they are always very difficult,” South coach Betsy Bullock said. “If we can come away with a tie or a win, we’re ecstatic.”
In the game, Pennridge hit a post, the crossbar, had the ball cleared off the line and another follow-up blocked by a South defender. The negative was none of those shots went in but the positive was the team’s youthful attack was generating them.
Still, Pennridge finished with 13 shots on goal, so it was doing something right.
“For us to come out and battle, we had some issues early on, but we kept fighting and I think it’s important for a young team to learn that lesson early on,” Anderson said. “That’s how every game is going to be for us.”
Anderson has a lot of underclassmen and players inexperienced at the varsity level, but she also has a lot of options. South, which lost a double-overtime game against Souderton on Thursday, didn’t substitute much while the Rams were sending two or three players in at a time.
Pennridge graduated 11 seniors at the end of last season and the Rams lost speedster Kouri Peace after she decided at the end of last season, that she was not returning to play high school soccer at Pennridge.
The team’s midfield got off to a bit of a slow start, but progressed as the match wore on and Anderson said their next steps are to play quicker and keep their heads up looking for teammates.
Supp, a Lehigh recruit who has started almost every game the last two seasons, said she and co-captain Caroline Thomson have been encouraging their teammates every step. After Friday’s performance, Supp said they don’t need to be told they can do it.
“Today showed that they’re going to step up and they’re going to play the best the can,” Supp said. “We have a lot of speed still even though we’re not as experienced as last year. I’m excited.”
Pennridge had a number of players get into dangerous positions including senior Abby Ciampa, sophomore Chance Hendricks, freshman Lauren DeHaven and sophomore Lauren McIntyre. McIntyre hit the crossbar early in the second half, with the rebound falling to Ciampa only to have it stopped by another great effort by McShane.
While Supp and junior Sarah Williams were doing their thing in the middle of the Rams back line, the Titans got strong outings from Krysko and Lauren Ewell on their back line.
The Rams nearly scored again late in the second half when senior Lauren Plezia’s shot was palmed away by McShane to set up another scramble. Junior Nicolette Harrison was right there, but her rebound shot rang the post and the third shot ended up being blocked out for a corner.
“At any given time, all three of those girls (in midfield) had very few minutes to no minutes on varsity,” Anderson said. “I’m excited to see where we go.”
It wasn’t a win, but it was still a good result for Pennridge.
“The goals will come,” Supp said. “It’s good that we’re getting the opportunities and we’re creating them and I think we’ll start to finish them in the next game.”
PENNRIDGE 0, CENTRAL BUCKS SOUTH 0
CENTRAL BUCKS SOUTH 0 0 0 0 – 0
PENNRIDGE 0 0 0 0 – 0
Shots: P – 13, CBS – 6. Saves: CBS – Maddie McShane 10; P – Mary Kate Levush 6
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