Pope John Paul II (4) vs. Owen J. Roberts (1)
Records >> Pope John Paul II – 8-2 PAC Frontier, 9-4 PAc, 9-6-1 overall
Owen J. Roberts – 9-0-1 PAC Liberty, 12-0-1 PAC, 17-0-1 overall
Head-to-head >> On Sept. 11, OJR defeated PJP 4-0 thanks to two Bailey Hunt goals and scores from Kylee MacLeod and Mia Baumgarten.
Playoff history >> It’s a rematch of the 2017 PAC championship game, a 1-0 win for the Wildcats on Mia Baumgarten’s penalty kick in the second half. It was PJP’s first PAC final appearance. The title was OJR’s first since 2010, 4th in the Final Four era and 11th overall.
On Pope John Paul II >> The Golden Panthers took their playoff qualification to the wire, needing a 2-1 overtime win at Upper Perkiomen Monday afternoon to qualify for the Final Four. Mary Kate Shannon played the hero to give PJP a 5th straight trip to PACs. Also led by Lainey Owens, Julie Cherneskie and goalkeeper Stacy Kormos, the Golden Panthers came together when it counted and are winners of their last four.
On Owen J. Roberts >> It was a near flawless regular season for the Wildcats in an encore of last season when they won the PAC title and reached the PIAA 4A semifinals. OJR is 17-0-1, No. 1 in the District 1-4A rankings and has largely dominated: it has scored 67 goals and conceded just two. (Two!) Even with the graduation of All-State forward Mahogany Willis (37 goals in 2017) and All-State defender Kylie Cahill, the Wildcats haven’t missed a beat. Defensive midfielder Kylee MacLeod is the engine and provides cover for the defensive line of center backs Brinley Beveridge and fabulous freshman Mo Weaver, do-it-all right back Kenzie Milne, left back Emily Sands and goalkeeper Samantha Hughes. Bailey Hunt has been the breakout star of the PAC this fall while Sarah Kopec and Mia Baumgarten also provide scoring punch.
Matchup >> PJP did well to reclaim their place in the PAC playoffs, but being the team to hand Owen J. Roberts its first loss is too big an ask. The Wildcats have proven too tough to break down – Two! – and have done well to avoid being a one-dimensional attack this fall.
Prediction >> Owen J. Roberts 2, Pope John Paul II 0.
Spring-Ford (3) vs. Pottsgrove (2)
Records >> Spring-Ford – 7-3 PAC Liberty, 10-3 PAC, 11-5 overall
Pottsgrove – 10-0 PAC Frontier, 11-2 PAC, 14-4 overall
Head-to-head >> Teams haven’t met since Sept. 23, 2016, a 4-0 S-F win
Playoff history >> Spring-Ford was PAC champion in three of the past five seasons, 2016 most recently. This is its 6th straight Final Four appearance. It is Pottsgrove’s first PAC playoff appearance in Final Four history (began in 2006).
On Spring-Ford >> Even with so many changes from last year’s accomplished senior class, the current Rams’ talent hasn’t allowed for much regression. Seniors Claire Sites and Devin Rawley, junior Ella Curry and sophomores Hope Flanegin, Molly Thomas and Riley Wallace (goalkeeper) have made the most of their increased roles, doing their best to maintain the level of excellence the Spring-Ford program has reached over the past five years (four PIAA tournament appearances).
On Pottsgrove >> The Falcons were tabbed as favorites in the Frontier Division in the preseason. With no history of league-leading success though, it was all on paper. Yet Pottsgrove put it together on the field and ran the table in the PAC Frontier Division. It’s a squad with a lot of technical ability, led by midfielders Becca Delp (likely out due to injured ankle) and Lexi Zook, forward Skylar Glass, defender Hailey Strain and defender-turned-goalkeeper Lana Sorg (likely in goal due to absence of regular starter Summer Walker).
Matchup >> With two teams that look to play a quick-passing, possession style, it’s a game for the non-partisan fan. Pottsgrove’s ascent has been a highlight of the fall season, but of its 14 wins none are to the level of knocking off a team with the pedigree of Spring-Ford.
Prediction >> Spring-Ford 2, Pottsgrove 1
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