North Penn holds Pennridge to scoreless draw

EAST ROCKHILL >> When it became clear the long-distance effort by Pennridge’s Katie Fischer had the chance to break Monday afternoon’s scoreless stalemate in the second half, Hannah Lambert reached out and asked for help from a higher power.

“I saw the ball coming in I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is going to go in,” North Penn’s junior goalkeeper said. “And I just tracked back as far as I could and just prayed to God that it’ll at least hit the crossbar, if not go over.”

Seems like someone was listening. Lambert jumped to get a hand on Fischer’s shot from outside the 18-yard box and the ball deflected off the crossbar back into play, where it was cleared away of danger by the Maidens.

Pennridge put pressure on Lambert and the North Penn backline throughout the Suburban One League Continental Conference girl soccer match, but the Rams never found a way to score. And neither could the Maidens, so after 100 minutes the teams settled for a 0-0 draw at Helman Field.

“We’re definitely excited for that tie,” North Penn coach Jim Dehner said. “We thought we were starting to put stuff together, actually closer towards the end of the game and in the overtimes, I thought we had a little bit more of the momentum in that overtime, both overtimes. But, yeah, I think that was a good tie for us.”

Bob Raines--Montgomery Media North Penn's Hannah Alexander steps in to steal the ball from Pennridge's Katie Fischer Sept. 21, 2015.
North Penn’s Hannah Alexander steps in to steal the ball from Pennridge’s Katie Fischer during their game on Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. (Bob Raines/Montgomery Media)

The Rams (3-2-1, 2-2-1 conference) spent most of the game pushing forwards to the North Penn goal and had a handful of quality chances in both halves and in extra times yet found themselves shutout for the second consecutive contest, having falling 1-0 to Souderton last Friday.

“We did everything right except put the ball in the back of the net,” Pennridge coach Audrey Anderson said. “And it wasn’t lack of trying, it was just not being able to finish in the final third.”

Some of that was on missed shots, but a lot had to do with a defense anchored by Jani Johnston, Riley Houlihan, Liz Volz and Kat Stevenson that helped North Penn (3-3-2, 1-2-2) collect its second shutout of the season.

“We’re pretty good about our backline as far as getting behind the ball, stopping the play, stopping those runs and then we’re still working on trying to find our girls up top or outside mids or whatever,” Dehner said. “But I think defensively we actually do a pretty good job. But, yeah, definitely we went into this, especially as the game wore on, it was like we didn’t want to get beat 1-0. And I think that was a testament to the girls. The girls dug deep, they played their heart out, so I couldn’t be happier.”

Pennridge has won the last four SOL Continental titles outright but Monday’s tie and losses to Central Bucks East and Soduerton have the Rams in the middle of the conference standings. Anderson, however, is not concerned about her team’s current position.

“It’s still early. We played (CB East), we played (CB) West, we played (CB South, we only have a couple teams left, but I feel that we’re in a good spot,” she said. “We want to go to Hershey, but we have some goals, some long-term goals that I think if we stay on track and we stay focused, we’ll be OK.”

Pennridge is back on the field 3:45 p.m. Tuesday as it visits Palisades for a non-league matchup. North Penn, which has not lost in its last four games — going 2-0-2 — host Souderton 3:45 Friday.

Bob Raines--Montgomery Media Pennridge's Dani Meenan and North Penn's Julia Berry battle for the ball Sept. 21, 2015.
Pennridge’s Dani Meenan and North Penn’s Julia Berry battle for the ball during their game on Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. (Bob Raines/Montgomery Media)

“I’m pretty proud of the way we’ve been playing,” Lambert said. “Some of the games we haven’t had the right results, but we’re happy with the way we’ve played. They’ve been all competitive games, even despite of the score.”

In the first half, Pennridge’s Melissa Lyon got behind the NP defense thanks to a Kennedy Peace through ball, but Lyon’s shot went over the crossbar. The dangerous Rams cross was missed by Kouri Peace and deflected towards goal by a Maiden, but right to Lambert.

Kennedy Peace made a run at goal off a Jess Milligan pass, but Lambert came out with a slide to knock the ball away, while a second effort by Kennedy Peace was blocked by Stevenson and corralled by Lambert.

Fischer’s shot in the second half was the closest any side came to a goal, as she stepped into a right-footed volley from more than 20 yards that had the trajectory to go in before Lambert and the crossbar denied her.

“I think at some point we started panicking because we hadn’t scored,” Anderson said. “So I think with the panic and everything, we started getting away from what was working. When we were connecting with our midfield and our midfield finding our forwards, that’s when we had most of our success. We changed things up a little in the overtime, just to try and get in behind the defenders. So, that worked a couple times, but again we couldn’t get the shot off.”

A corner kick gave Pennridge a chance in the first overtime, as a loose ball popped free to Savanna Harrison, but her low shot through traffic was stopped by Lambert. Later in the first OT, a shot by Kouri Peace slipped through Lambert’s hand, but the NP keeper recovered to regain possession.

North Penn’s best effort to score came in the second overtime when Anna Pedicone got a hard shot on goal but it went directly to Rams keeper Kaitlyn Moran.

Top Photo: North Penn’s Victoria Braeunle and Pennridge’s Katie Fischer battle for the ball during their game on Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. (Bob Raines/Montgomery Media)

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