Blank scores twice, Archbishop Ryan shuts out Lansdale Catholic

LANSDALE — The Lansdale Catholic girls soccer team tried its best Monday afternoon to break through the impenetrable wall Archbishop Ryan has become in Philadelphia Catholic League play.

Crosses into the box, corners, shots from distance — the Crusaders tried everything to score, but goalkeeper Jazmine Gonzalez and the Ragdolls kept the LC attack in check, while Julianne Blank found the back of the net once in each half to give visiting Ryan the 2-0 league victory.

“When you’re the league defending champion, everybody brings their A game for you, so you got to give them credit,’ said Lansdale Catholic coach Tom O’Donnell of Ryan. “Everyday they come to the game site, the other team is having their best day. Give Ryan a lot of credit there, they’re playing extremely well. I think we can play with them. We’ll just have to wait for a second chance.

Blank gave the Ragdolls (15-1-0, 10-0-0 PCL) the lead midway through the first half by slotting a rolling shot into the lower left corner of the Lansdale Catholic (10-4-1, 6-2-1) goal.

The junior doubled Ryan’s advantage in similar fashion in the second half, as another low roller found the bottom right corner. Her second tally came shortly after the Ragdolls were given a free kick in their own half — with O’Donnell still unclear about restart’s reason.

“We’re asking (the official), ‘ What did we do wrong?’ We had a throw in, next thing I know they got a free kick,’ O’Donnell said. “We haven’t made the throw yet. If it was a foul throw, they retake the throw, there’s no ways there’s a kick.

Gonzalez made five saves to set an Archbishop Ryan record for career shutouts as the two-time defending PCL champs still have not allowed a goal in league play — outscoring teams 53-0.

“We got on the bus today, Lansdale’s just a frustrating team for us. Give them credit, they did the same thing, played their system, caused us a little bit of issues,’ Archbishop Ryan coach Ryan Haney said. “We were fortunate to get behind them maybe three or four times, and we put two in the net. We made the right choices instead of cutting back. (Blank) puts them in, which she’s been doing all year.’

Ryan can cap off an perfect regular PCL season Thursday when it hosts Archbishop Carroll. Lansdale Catholic is back in action Wednesday at it visits Neumann-Goretti at 3:45 p.m. The Crusaders are back home 3:45 p.m. Thursday against Little Flower.

“I thought we played really well and I’m excited for the future,’ LC senior Grace Gaus said. “And it was tough letting in that goal, but I know we’ll be back and we’ll get them.’

In the first half Monday, the Crusaders had a pair of free kicks in dangerous areas, while a volley by junior Sarah Opdyke in the box missed wide of the near post before Blank put the Ragdolls ahead by calming placing a shot in the opposite corner past LC keeper Erin Brokans.

“From this angle, I really couldn’t see how she found a spot,’ O’Donnell said. “Erin was out off her line, so she’s challenging the shooter’s angle. The kid just really made two nice shots.’

Briana Coughlin had a chance to level after a turnover deep in the Ryan end, but the senior’s shot curled just wide of the top corner.

In the second half, Opdyke was denied twice on back-to-back shots in the box by Ryan defenders — the first by a sliding Ragdolls. Gaus made a run off a flick, but Gonzalez came off her line to knock the ball out of trouble as Ryan’s adjustments after halftime helped maintain its shutout streak.

“We play a 3-2-3-2 or a 3-5-2, the two holding stoppers were just really having a hard time adjusting to passing each other off, instead they wanted to follow the ball. And we’ve been working on it, but it just wasn’t happening,’ Haney said. “At halftime, we’re regrouping, we’re like just sit home, let them come to us a little bit. It’s OK if they have possession in the back. Let them move it around and we’ll find out moment to win it and we’ll get forward cause we have (Blank) as far as a release, her speed can be dangerous.’

Blank made it 2-0 with 15 minutes remaining as Ryan moved quickly down the sideline off the free kick, with Blank’s low shot connected with the opposite corner.

“It almost like, ‘ Can we play and not allow any shots?’ But that’s unrealistic,’ O’Donnell said. “Our kids had a near-flawless afternoon. Defensively, our back four, I thought, and the midfield kids, they were flawless back there and they still had two chances to finish and they put them in.’

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