Pope John Paul II wins first District 1-AA playoff game in school history

UPPER PROVIDENCE — The Pope John Paul II girls soccer team has plenty left.

With the chance at the team’s first-ever District 1-AA win on the line Thursday afternoon, the Golden Panthers relied on what’s left — their left feet.

Senior midfielders Talia Marano and Lauren Dao scored on perfectly struck left-footed shots sandwiched around Reiley Cotter’s free kick goal as Pope John Paul II defeated Springfield-Montco, 3-1, for the school’s first district-level victory at PJP’s wind-swept home field.

“We knew we had to come together as a team and put it all out there and make more history,’ said Marano.

“We’ve been making history this whole season and we want to keep making it. This is our year to make a statement and we’re doing a good job of doing so. We want to keep it up and see how far we can take this thing,’ Dao said.

The Golden Panthers capitalized with three first-half goals, Marano assisting on Dao’s score with 2:24 left in the half, while playing with a heavy wind in their favor.

Springfield attempted to mount a comeback with the wind in its favor in the second half and got a goal from Jewell Ringgold in the 47th minute but couldn’t find another score despite a few chances and a hit of the crossbar in the closing minutes.

Similar to the No. 4 seed Golden Panthers, No. 5 Springfield was seeking its first district win in its maiden voyage to the tournament.

“This is our first time in,’ head coach Suzette Wolf said. “We were very excited to make it. There was some anxiousness, some nervousness. We have a lot of seniors, so in their four years they never saw districts. This was their first time and I think they did well.’

Leading the way for Springfield was sophomore midfielder Emily Giampietro, who nearly scored from close to midfield, but PJP goalkeeper Colleen Morton (five saves) smartly tipped the ball over the goal.

But Springfield couldn’t match PJP (15-6), which was coming off its first appearance in the PAC-10 championship game last week when they fell to two-time champion Spring-Ford. With the midfield duo of Dao and Marano pulling the strings, PJP also got excellent games from outside backs Julia Owens and Reiley Cotter and important contributions from wide midfielders Bridget Rauh and Courtney Thompson.

There weren’t any complaints from the Golden Panthers players after notching another first — this one being their first district win.

Pope John Paul II hopes to continue its streak Monday when it faces top-seeded Villa Joseph Marie at a place and time to be determined.


PJP led in shots on goal 11-7, capitalizing on Springfield goalkeeper Katie Fitzpatrick’s injured shoulder, which she hurt the team’s previous outing. Fitzpatrick made six saves, backup Yulia Conoway made three. PJP also used two goalkeepers, Christine Germscheid coming on in the second half to stop two shots.

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