CB West back in PIAA final, faces Canon-McMillan for Class AAA title

The Central Bucks West girls soccer team is right on schedule.

Asked if he expected a trip to the state final in just his second season with the team, head coach Jorge Rodriguez responded with confidence.

“Honestly, yeah,’ the coach said. “High school coaches always talk about the important pieces that you need to have, in order to have a championship team. Defense wins championships but you also have to have a goal scorer. When you have somebody like (keeper) Grace (Bendon) and when you have somebody like Shae McCarty on opposite ends, it allows for any coach to dream big and set the goals pretty high up.’

The Bucks can achieve the highest of goals on Saturday, as they head to Hersheypark Stadium to take on District Seven Champion Canon-McMillan in the PIAA Class AAA State Final, set for a 4 p.m. start.

The Bucks rolled to a 3-0 win over Pittson Area in Round One, stunned previously-unbeaten Pennsbury 2-1 in the quarterfinals, and then blanked Elizabethtown 2-0 in the semis.

West has been playing some of the best soccer in the state, just weeks after entering districts as a ho-hum No. 13 seed.

“We struggled during the year. Six losses are not something any coach wants to deal with, but we put it together when it counted,’ said Rodriguez, who once guided Pennridge to the state runner-up spot back in 2011. “Once the playoffs started, we were able to fine-tune the things we weren’t doing so well throughout the year.’

The Bucks have allowed just a single goal in states and have recorded a total of five shutouts in the postseason. Their next challenge is a surprise team from the WPIAL making its first ever state final appearance.

The Big Macs advanced past Central Bucks East on a goal each from Sabrina Bryan and Aideen O’Donoghue, while goalie Kyra Murphy anchored the defense, securing nine saves.

Canon McMillan (19-4-1) began states with a 7-0 rout of State College followed by a 2-1 win over Spring-Ford in the quarters. The Big Macs aim for their first ever state crown while the Bucks look to add to an already packed trophy case. West’s last state title in girls soccer came in 2007, when they shared the crown with Central Dauphin at the end of the spring season.

“The school has had a history of (winning states) way, way before I got here,’ Rodriguez said.

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