Villa Joseph Marie makes a solid run in states

HOLLAND — The deeper you travel down the state playoff road, the tougher and tougher you should find the going. That is unless you’re the Villa Joseph Marie soccer team who keeps knocking worthy opponents off with apparent ease.

In the opening round of the PIAA Class AA state playoffs, the Jems defeated the District three runner-up Conrad Weiser by a 4-0 score Nov. 4 at Council Rock North. They followed that victory up with a 5-0 quarterfinal thumping of previously undefeated District Two champion Dallas Nov. 11 at Hamburg High.

The secret of Villa Jo’s success is basic. A squad of skilled soccer players combines their talents in a harmonious team effort. No one claims to be the driving force. No one feels she alone carries the team.

Murphy Agnew, sophomore striker, epitomizes the selfless attitude. Murphy, who leads all of Lower Bucks County with 34 goals, could well be considered the Jems’ most polished jewel. She thinks very differently.

“From our goalies to our midfielders, I have some of the best teammates anyone could ask for, especially Allie Trzaska. When you have someone like her passing you the ball, it’s a lot easier to score.’

For Murphy, Villa’s present 20-1 record stems from their team chemistry. “We have such a great connection on this team. We’re so in synch with each other. We love playing with each other. From the seniors to the freshmen, everyone knows each other very well.’Coach Rich Finneyfrock’s charges unleashed their exciting, team-oriented brand of soccer on their most recent victim Dallas. “Going into the game, we knew they had a really good striker Talia (Szatkowski). She was their high scorer with over 60 goals. We wanted to mark her tight because they said she didn’t like physical play. We had one of our center-backs Morgan Gouger put a body on her and keep her from turning. We made sure they didn’t have time to run at us.’

With the defense thwarting the previously high-scoring Dallas attack, the offense struck early and often. Only nine minutes into the game, Murphy tallied her first of four goals, a score for which she instantly credited her teammates.

“Morgan Gouger is such a weapon with her throw-in. She had a real nice toss to Allie Trzaska and she headed the ball perfectly to my foot and it was an easy tap in. Morgan and Allie did all the work.’

Six minutes later, the sophomore sensation once again found the back of the Dallas net. This time, she praised her teammate Alexa Fabbri for her part in the goal. “That was a fantastic ball from Alexa, one of our center-backs, right over the defense. It was easy to get behind the ball and put it in the net. Alexa’s pass set me off.’

Two more scores by Murphy iced the Jems’ victory. “The third goal was a bouncing ball in the box and it came right to my foot and I just tapped it in. The fourth one was off a corner and it was headed out. I just trapped it and shot it into the left corner.’

The victory sends Villa to a Nov. 11 semifinal match-up with District 11 champ, Northwestern Lehigh (results not available at press time). It also helped assuage the hurt from last year’s state playoff exit. “We felt really good after the Dallas game. This was the field (Hamburg) we lost on in the semi-final last year. It felt good to get all that negativity out from last year and win on that field.’

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