Upper Perkiomen thumps Pottsgrove, pushes toward district berth

RED HILL — As the temperatures are dropping, the stakes are rising in Pioneer Athletic Conference girls soccer as teams are making their final push to earn a District 1 playoff berth.

Upper Perkiomen demonstrated their poise Tuesday night as they defeated Pottsgrove 5-1 on Senior Night and moved a step closer to making a district run.

“At this point, I’m very happy about the way the girls stepped up,’ said Upper Perkiomen head coach Mike Freed, whose team made it to the District 1-AA semifinals last season. “We’ve got a great group of girls on our team with a lot of talent coming off the bench. That bodes well for our team as we move forward both late in games and late in the season.’

The Indians (6-6) wasted no time as senior Shae Duka kicked it in from 25 yards out just six minutes into the game to give Upper Perkiomen a 1-0 lead.

‘It felt good to come out and score early,’ said Duka. “We know every game is a must-win this late in the season, so we were definitely motivated from the very beginning.’

Just three minutes later, Lauren Schroeder found Mackenzie Gebhardt, who fired it past Falcon (2-11) keeper Erin Carroll at 30:13 extending the Tribe’s early lead to 2-0.

Pottsgrove created a few opportunities in the 13th minute but was turned away by a stingy Upper Perkiomen defense.

Hannah Tattan escaped on a breakaway and took a shot, but it was knocked down by a diving Rachel Morelli, who made six saves in net for the Indians.

Later, Gebhardt passed one across the middle, which was knocked down but not secured by Carroll. Bridget Mayza took the bouncer and knocked it past for a 3-0 lead at 5:47.

“We executed really well tonight, especially in the first half,’ said Gebhardt, who finished with a goal and an assist. “We were creating a lot of good chances and taking advantage of anything we could.’

Upper Perkiomen never seemed to take its foot off the gas in the second half as they still created scoring chances and looked to stop the Falcon offense from getting settled.

Duka scored off a pass from Jess Spano giving the Indians a 4-0 lead.

“We moved the ball really well and created a lot of space against their defense,’ said Spano, who finished with two assists. “We got out in front of them a lot, which made it hard for them to shut down any passing lanes.’

But the Falcon offense eventually did settle.

Just a minute later, Molly McGeehan found Alexandra Gallion who shot it past Morelli and made the score 4-1 at 20:55 left in the game.

According to Pottsgrove head coach Stephen Mellor, Gallion’s goal was a result of the Falcons staying motivated despite what the score showed.

“It was something we talked about at the half,’ he said. “We knew we could eventually score if we kept the pressure up and kept our composure. I’m proud of the way the girls played up until the very end.’

Just two minutes later, Joy Applebach fired one off the post which was then cleared by the Upper Perkiomen defense.

With 16.9 left, Spano found Dani Krempasky who trickled one past to give the Indians the eventual 5-1 lead over the Falcons.

This being the final game of their season, the Falcons definitely hoped for a closer match.

“It was a tough loss tonight,’ said Mellor. “We made a few too many mistakes out there, and we ended up paying for them. Still, the girls played really hard this season, and I’m proud of the effort they gave all season long.’

For Upper Perkiomen, the win gives them another step in the right direction as they make a District 1 playoff push.

According to Freed, the Indians have a great chance at making districts, but will need to play every game the way they did against Pottsgrove if they want to make it.

“We’re going to have to play hard the rest of the way. It’s something I really want our seniors to earn again after last season,’ he said. “It’s also something I want our younger girls to experience. I want them to get that taste of it and get that hunger to make it back to districts in the future.’

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