Owen J. Roberts too much for Pope John Paul II, wins 7-0

By Dan Dunkin
For The Mercury
@DanDunkin1 on Twitter

BUCKTOWN >> It was a calm, cool and pleasant fall evening at Henry J. Bernat Field, a perfect night for soccer with no rain in the forecast.

But lightning struck early and often for Owen J. Roberts’ explosive young bunch, and goals poured in like thundershowers on Pope John Paul II Wednesday night.

With sophomore Mahogany Willis and senior Emily Kupsov each scoring hat tricks, the Wildcats romped to a 7-0 victory. Six of the goals came before halftime.

“That was probably the best half of soccer that we’ve played this year,” OJR girls soccer coach Joe Margusity said.

OJR’s athleticism and front-to-back depth of skill level was on full display. Offensively, it was quite a show from the get-go.

The Wildcats (6-3 overall, 3-2 in the PAC-10) have a surplus of speed, and often are able to send the ball far ahead for a forward to run down in a favorable one-on-one matchup. But on this night their passing was most impressive in intricate patterns through traffic, creating and finding gaps.

“We hadn’t been connecting the ball as well, so we were trying to build up to the front,” Willis said.

“When we possess, that creates space,” Kupsov said. “Instead of just playing long all the time, it’s nice to have the combination of both so they don’t know what’s coming.

“We relaxed and switched the field, the point of attack, and found when we switch it creates space, and you take advantage of it.”

Margusity has preached patience with the ball as a way of creating scoring chances, especially for his gifted starting forwards, Kupsov, Willis and sophomore Morgan Shronk.

“We’ve been trying to instill patience to release that speed that we have up top,” Margusity said. “We know we can counter-attack fast, but when we go Route 100 all the time, it doesn’t work out for us. But if we hold possession in midfield and draw defenders out, we can open them up then.”

The floodgates opened quickly.

In the seventh minute, following a takeaway by skilled OJR sophomore defender Kylie Cahill, Kupsov connected for the first goal off a crisp cross from Willis. Six minutes later, Willis showed her exceptional speed, cutting across left to right, securing a nice pass from Kupsov and depositing the ball into the left corner of the net.

PJP starting sophomore goalkeeper Colleen Morton made consecutive excellent saves during an OJR flurry, but in the 22nd minute, Willis struck again, this on a long run after Caroline Thompson nailed a long lead pass.

PJP sophomore Kayla Mesaros dribbled in nicely through traffic on the next Golden Panther possession but was denied by OJR goalkeeper Kiera McCloud. In the 31st minute it was 4-0 when Kupsov, operating left of the net, footed a beautiful cross from Shronk into the right corner.

OJR would apply massive pressure throughout the half, recording 12 shots on goal. The fifth goal came on sophomore midfielder Danika Swech’s straight-on shot from about 20 yards, just a minute after the fourth goal.

Willis got her third in the 39th minute when dribbling through two defenders. That made it 6-0 just before the break. Kupsov joined her with a trifecta when she connected from deep left six minutes into the second half.

PJP played hard throughout. It was just one of those nights. The Golden Panthers are 4-2 in the PAC-10, 5-2 overall.

“We knew they had a lot of speed up top,” PJP coach Stewart Sherk said. “Our defense has been playing good of late. But we knew we couldn’t match up with their top three speed players – Mahogany Willis, Morgan Shronk, Emily Kupsov, and also with Caroline (Thompson) in the back at middie.

“They’re well-coached, they pass the ball, move the ball. We came out with a defensive setup, but we had a couple of unlucky breaks, so we abandoned that and we had to start chasing goals. We’ll be back. It’s kind of good in a way to have a game like this, because sometimes it gives a team a wake-up call.”

Starting six rapidly-developing sophomores to go along with all the rest of the Wildcats’ talent and experience, Margusity is enjoying a very promising team’s growth.

“It’s nice to watch their progression,” Margusity said. “To have a (loss) against Spring-Ford, and then to turn it around and beat Downingtown West, and then tonight – PJP is not a bad team. They’re a good team, so to have that type of game against them was nice.”

“Margusity has that team clicking right now,” Sherk said. “You hope to contain teams like that, but you know you’re not going to stop them. Their sophomore class is dynamic.”

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