Pennridge hopes experience leads to new heights during ’15 season

PERKASIE — The Pennridge girls soccer team is going to have a very familiar look in 2015.

After all, the Rams had just one senior on last year’s team, meaning the entire core of the team is back under coach Audrey Anderson. With standout players on the backline, in the midfield and pacing the attack, Pennridge is experienced.

But there’s one thing the Rams hope doesn’t resemble last season. After ending the last two years with gutting losses in the first round of the District 1-AAA tournament, Pennridge is aiming for more.

“We have a lot of new girls, different players trying to figure out where they’re going to play and what we’re going to do,” senior forward Jess Milligan said. “I think for the most part, we’ve been very positive. Just to see how the girls play with each other and how everything’s gone, I think it’s going to be a great season.”

Pennridge’s lone loss to graduation was central midfielder Jess Supp, now playing at Shippensburg. However, it’s not as though the remaining 10 spots were just handed to the returners. The Rams have a crop of sophomores and freshmen that already shown they can hang on the practice field.

With high school soccer allowing unlimited substitutes, it’s given Pennridge plenty of depth heading into the season. That depth will be tested early as first-team SOL Continental center back Olivia Fernandez is sidelined to start the season with an injury. Still, the rest of the defensive unit returns with Kaitlyn Moran in net, first-team SOL picks

Dani Meenan and Erin Stevenson at outside back and second-team SOL pick Rachel Velez at center back.
In perhaps the most telling of compliments, both Milligan and center midfielder Katie Fischer called the defense the team’s strength.

“They’ve held us together the last two years,” Milligan said. “Dani and Erin have been playing since their freshman year and without them, we would not be as good.”

“Their connections, they know exactly how to play off each other, when to make runs and when not to,” Fischer added. “I’d agree it’s our defense.”

Pennridge's Jessica Milligan puts a ball past sprawling Christopher Dock goalie Audrey Schwizerof during a scrimmage at Pennridge High School on Thursday afternoon August 27,2015.
Pennridge’s Jessica Milligan puts a ball past sprawling Christopher Dock goalie Audrey Schwizerof during a scrimmage at Pennridge High School on Thursday afternoon August 27,2015.

Fischer anchors the midfield and the third-team SOL pick recently committed to play college soccer for the Division I UNC Charlotte 49ers. Honorable mention picks Megan Hirshbuhl and Savanna Harrison are also back in the center of the park.

While the Rams bring back so much experience, only a handful of them are seniors. Velez, Stevenson, Fernandez, Meenan and Fischer are all juniors as is first-team SOL forward Kennedy Peace and Harrison. Peace’s younger sister, freshman Kouri, has also been an impact player in preseason.

“We already have great connections on the field,” Meenan said.

Pennridge has won the SOL Continental for the past seven seasons but hasn’t had the same success in the postseason. Meanwhile, conference rival CB East had a nice run through districts while CB West went on to win the PIAA Class AAA title. Having taken a first-round loss two years in a row, with last year’s coming at home as the No. 5 seed, the Rams are ready to take that next step.

“We’re going to have to figure out a way to get past that first round,” Fischer said. “We have to change the way prepare. I think one of the main parts was that in our minds the season was coming to a close when really it was just beginning. We have to have a better mentality if we get to that step.”

“We know how to handle it better,” Meenan added.

The potential is there for Pennridge but the players know it’s up to them to use that potential to get where the want to go. To their credit, the players all said they most looked forward to the rivalry games and the dates on the schedule that would test them and make them work 80 hard minutes for a result.

It’s a unique place that many of the Rams players find themselves in. While plenty of them have at least one more season in green, they’ve also had their season come to an abrupt end twice already. With limited chances to even get into the playoffs, a sense of need has set it with this group.

Of course for the seniors like Milligan, this is the last chance for them to advance through the bracket.

“Knowing that we lost last and the year before that in the first round, we know we have to move on,” Milligan said. “We’re all going to work together to get there.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply