Owen J. Roberts cools off Pope John Paul II, 3-1

LOWER PROVIDENCE — The Pope John Paul II girls soccer team scored the biggest win in program history Monday, 3-1 over 2013 PIAA quarterfinalist Boyertown.

Owen J. Roberts has had more than its share of big wins in program history — the Wildcats were PIAA champions in 2003, state finalists in 2005 and more recently PIAA semifinalists in 2011 after all.

But with only one win to its name through five Pioneer Athletic Conference games, a big victory was necessary if OJR hoped to keep pace in the ultra-competitive Liberty Division.

It came for the Wildcats Wednesday after a pair of Emilie Kupsov free kicks set up two first-half goals and Morgan Shronk sealed it late to give OJR a 3-1 win over host Pope John Paul II.

Kupsov, a junior midfielder, netted her free kick from 19 yards out on the left side to open the scoring. Ten minutes later another Kuspov free kick into the box from a similar spot was not dealt with by the PJP defense, chested down by freshman Shronk and knocked into goal by freshman Mahogany Willis for a 2-0 halftime lead.

After the Golden Panthers scored early in the second half to make it 2-1, Willis assisted Shronk’s easy finish — PJP had only one defender back as it chased the tying goal — in the final minute to seal the win.

Golden Panthers freshman Kayla Mesaros scored early in the second half on a crafty turn-and-shoot to her left inside the 18, her fourth goal in two games.

After Mesaros scored a first-half hat trick in Monday’s win over Boyertown, PJP coach Stewart Sherk was wary of the effect the monumental win would have on his team.

“I was worried about a little bit of a letdown,’ the first-year head coach said. “Not because we didn’t have the fighting spirit but because we had a lot of girls banged up. There were a number of girls that weren’t 100-percent but they wanted to come out and give in their all. In hindsight, I probably should have subbed a couple of them out and put different players in. This loss is on me. I should have made some adjustments. Players make mistakes and coaches are going to mistakes.’

With the win over PJP, which is off to an excellent start at 4-2 in the PAC-10 (6-2 overall) and in prime position to earn a PAC-10 playoff spot, Owen J. Roberts (2-2-1 PAC-10, 3-2-1 overall) appears to be taking shape even as more than half of its starting lineup — six to be exact — are freshmen.

Kupsov and senior forward Katie Dempsey, both of whom know what it’s like to log heavy minutes as freshmen, are doing their best to get the team on course after it missed the PAC-10 playoffs in 2013 while helping a big freshmen class get settled.

“It’s been a tough time for us and we are really looking to try and redeem ourselves for last year and I think we’re starting to do it,’ Kupsov said. “We had a rough time in the beginning of the year — we had two losses — but I think we’re starting to come together, especially with all the freshmen. They are doing a great job.’

Kupsov pairs with senior Mia Bertolami in the midfield, which will be bolstered when senior Anna Stuart and junior Liz Bealer return from injuries at the end of the week.

“In the beginning of the season it was hard because over half of the starters didn’t start last year or were freshmen coming in,’ Dempsey said. “I think they are getting the play of the game and everyone is starting to step up. We’re really forming our identity, as coach (Joe Margusity) always says.’

Among the freshmen, Willis and Shronk were both on the scoresheet, midfielder Danika Swech proved valuable in the midfield and center back Kylie Cahil stood out defensively.

Kupsov and Dempsey remember what it was like to be a first-year player and are doing their best to help the team’s 9th graders along.

“There were a bunch of leaders when I was a freshman,’ Kupsov said. “It really showed me how much it really affects everyone when you’re a leader. I realize that and I’m trying to be a leader to help the freshmen since there’s so many.’

“It can be scary and intimidating (to play as a freshman), so we’re trying to foster the freshmen in a way that they feel comfortable with us and that we get the best results out of them,’ Dempsey said.

The Golden Panthers — led by senior midfielders Talia Marano and Lauren Dao and junior defender Catherine Roth — may not have maintained a perfect record against Liberty Division opponents against OJR, but they are turning heads early in the season.

“We’re in every game. We’re battling for respect every game we play and hopefully we’ll get there,’ Sherk said. “The attitude with the girls is different this year. We have a different attitude and we feel we can compete with everybody. We have a talented squad and they continue to fight everyday. We know we can play with anybody, we just have to play our best every game.’

As far as the Wildcats are concerned, Kupsov believes the best is yet to come.

“I feel like we’re going to keep pushing harder,’ she said. “If we keep playing the way we’re playing, we’re going to have a good season.’


OJR led in shots on goal 9-4. … OJR keeper Sarah Mills had three saves, PJP counterpart Christine Germscheid stopped six. … PJP’s Dao had the best chance of the game that didn’t result in a goal late in the first half, her free kick from 23 yards grazed the bottom of the crossbar and ricocheted directly down without crossing the goal line. … Willis earned the foul that set up Kupsov’s opening goal. … PJP has a standout freshman of its own in Mesaros, according to Sherk. “For a freshman she is so poised and so determined,’ he said. “We’ve been riding her the past couple games and we have to get away from just riding one player and start distributing the ball and using everybody.’

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