Benner scores twice as Phoenixville rallies past PJP, claims No. 1 seed in Frontier

PHOENIXVILLE — This time Phoenixville’s girls soccer team did not allow Pope John Paul II to spoil their Senior Night party.

Two goals by Lauren Benner, the second with an assist by Cecilia Knaub, gave the host Phantoms a come-from-behind 2-1 Pioneer Athletic Conference victory over the Golden Panthers Tuesday night at Washington Field.

The victory assured Phoenixville (10-2, 12-3-1) the No. 1 seed from the Frontier Division for next week’s PAC-10 Final Four playoffs. Pope John Paul II (8-4, 12-5) will be the No. 2 seed from the Frontier Division.

Six Phoenixville seniors celebrated Senior Night in pre-game ceremonies, but it was the Golden Panthers scoring first on a 25-yard bomb on a direct hit by senior midfielder Lauren Dao in the sixth minute of the contest.

The Phantoms withstood that early momentum by PJP, and Benner made a steal and unassisted goal at the 21-minute mark to tie the game at 1-1. The goal went from the left side of the field to the right with Benner placing the shot just inside the right post.

The game remained deadlocked in a defensive standoff until Benner scored again at the 74-minute mark with a setup from Knaub, two four-year varsity performers who have stepped to the forefront all season. The shot went into the lower left corner of the net despite a diving try by Golden Panthers goalkeeper Christine Germschied (six saves).

Benner now has a PAC-10-leading 17 goals for the season.

“That was a good game,’ raved Benner. “It was 80 minutes of both teams working their hardest. You couldn’t ask for more.’

Benner, Knaub, Katie Fritsche, Lahela Worley, Steph Schellberg and Kristen Bonshock celebrated their Senior Night with the Phantoms’ victory and accompanying division title. Last year the Golden Panthers defeated the Phantoms on Senior Night, which left a sour taste for which Phoenixville wanted redemption.

“It has been all of our hard work from the end of last season till now has gotten us to the path where we want to be,’ said Benner. “We still have to work hard. We have a lot of expectations for the postseason. I couldn’t ask for a greater group of girls for all four years. Phoenixville provided a great experience.’

Phoenixville got three saves from goalie Lainey Michaud and another solid game from its consistent defense of Worley, Sophia Kopko, Sarah Weston and Schellberg.

“Any game you have to come up big,’ said Knaub. “But to do it on Senior Night is awesome. Give credit to them (Golden Panthers). They started out and set a shot that beat our keeper. I don’t think anybody could have saved that shot, but we stayed calm and focused. We played our style and got back into the game. We did not let them have it from there. We did not want to let that happen again.’

Knaub said the season has gone really well for the Phantoms, except for a few obstacles and games they learned lessons from. They want to finish out the year on a strong note in the PAC-10 playoffs and then in the District 1-AAA playoffs as well.

“It was a huge win,’ said Phoenixville coach Tim Raub. “We get the division title out of the way. We beat a team that was chasing us. They were three points behind us. To win the division is the first step. We put pressure on ourselves from the adrenaline on Senior Night. That has been the MO for us this year to give up an early goal. But we come back. The girls are battle-tested. They know how to come back hard.

“It was a good game. What can you say about Lauren Benner? They were two great goals. Our defense played great. We got contributions up and down the field.’

PJP coach Stewart Sherk also discussed the tight battle.

“That Lauren Benner, we can’t contain her,’ said Sherk. “We can’t shut her down. That’s for sure. We had the momentum early, but we got away from possessing the ball at midfield, which is not our style. You have to play to your strength, but we got away from it a little bit. We did a better job in the second half to not do that again. It was a defensive battle.

“Phoenixville has a great team and a great coach. And they have one of the best players to come along in a long time in Lauren Benner. We seem to have a battle every single time.’


The Golden Panthers got some strong work along the back line from Talia Marano, Catherine Roth, Reiley Cotter and freshman Julia Owens as well as Dao, Bridget Rauh, Courtney Thompson, Abby McMenaman, Caroline Rist and Kayla Mesaros up front. … Michaud made a diving stop outside the box around the 14-minute mark of the second half.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply