Versatile Boyertown beats Phoenixville, 3-1

BOYERTOWN >> The Boyertown girls soccer team can do it all.

Look no further than seniors Taylor Sassaman and Sarafina Valenti to see why.

Boyertown's Taylor Sassaman, right, is congratulated by teammate Maria Garofolo after scoring a goal in the first half against Phoenixville Monday. (Austin Hertzog - The Mercury)
Boyertown’s Taylor Sassaman, right, is congratulated by teammate Maria Garofolo after scoring a goal in the first half against Phoenixville Monday. (Austin Hertzog – The Mercury)

Sassaman supplied a spark for the Bears’ attack during Monday’s Pioneer Athletic Conference game against Phoenixville by providing the opening goal. She showed her versatility by dropping from forward to fortify the midfield in the second half while teammates Haleigh Gallagher and Sam Brensinger picked up the scoring load and Valenti was her usual sure-handed self in goal as Boyertown took down Phoenixville, 3-1.

The Bears improved to 6-1 in the PAC-10 (9-1 overall) to remain in second place in the Liberty Division while Phoenixville, which got its goal in the second half from freshman Leeza Galli, fell to 4-3 in the PAC-10 (6-4 overall), second place in the Frontier.

“We were a little slow starting,” Valenti said. “I was expecting to come out stronger but they (Phoenixville) played a really good game. We got the result we wanted, but there are definitely some things we can be working on, some lapses that we need to fix.”

Starting at forward, Sassaman’s score in the 18th minute papered over any feelings of a lackluster start. After shaking off a tackler, she teed up a left-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area on the left side that lofted over Phoenixville goalkeeper Lainey Michaud for a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute.

“It popped out and I took a touch with my toe to get it past her (the defender) and I just chipped it over and hoped it went in,” Sassaman said.

The Bears’ ever-present All-Area goalkeeper Valenti’s versatility entails her shaking off a different sort of tackler in her senior season: She is lending her services as the kicker of the Boyertown varsity football team.

“It’s good. It’s a lot of fun,” Valenti said. “I missed my first field goal the other night. It was short and I was really mad at myself. But it’s a lot of fun.

“I want to do as much my senior year as I can. I got involved with it – I practice with the boys and they’ve accepted me right away. Even if I do make a mistake they are so supportive and coach (Boyertown girls soccer coach Bill Goddard) is so supportive about it, too.”

So far, she is 5-for-6 on extra-point tries and 0-for-1 on field goal attempts despite having never considered playing football prior to this season.

“I’d never thought of it before and it came as a surprise,” Valenti said.

Boyertown's Maria Garofolo, left, shields the ball from Phoenixville's Gabrielle Perrotto during Monday's game. (Austin Hertzog - The Mercury)
Boyertown’s Maria Garofolo, left, shields the ball from Phoenixville’s Gabrielle Perrotto during Monday’s game. (Austin Hertzog – The Mercury)

Another surprise came when the Phantoms’ Galli got free down the right side in the 51st minute Monday.

“I thought she was going to cross it and I was ready for that cross. It was a near-post goal, so it’s awful on my part, but it was a great goal, upper 90 and it just chipped right in,” Valenti said.

Galli’s strike into the roof of goal gave Phoenixville new life and evened the game at 1-1. The Phantoms provided a greater threat in the latter parts of both halves, with junior midfielder Kaitlyn Casiano providing the supply line.

But the lead was short-lived as the Bears answered in the 54th minute when Renninger played a through ball into the path of Gallagher, who shot back to the right across the keeper. Michaud got her finger tips to the ball but it trickled in for Boyertown to reclaim the lead.

“I give them a lot of credit,” Valenti said of her teammates. “I was really impressed. I was down, feeling like we needed to get another goal and disappointed we had a breakdown. We break down and we get right back up.”

The Bears wouldn’t concede again thanks to the experienced back line of seniors Kylie Erb, Taylor Landis, Kyle Graver and junior Erin Reitmeyer along with midfielder Maria Garofolo, who was an aerial force on 50-50 balls, and Sassaman, who dropped back to help lock things down.

“I like to get forward and take opportunities, but for the team I think it helps because I’m bigger and can win balls out of the air and provide some fight in the back. This was a physical game so I think it helped in that aspect,” Sassaman said.

Boyertown's Sam Brensinger, right, looks to play the ball long as Phoenixville's Kaitlyn Casiano defends Monday. (Austin Hertzog - The Mercury)
Boyertown’s Sam Brensinger, right, looks to play the ball long as Phoenixville’s Kaitlyn Casiano defends Monday. (Austin Hertzog – The Mercury)

Phoenixville had what appeared to be the equalizer on a Dakota Graham free kick but a foul was called and the goal didn’t stand with under 10 minutes remaining. But Brensinger sealed the win when the Phantoms keeper came off her line and dove for the ball but couldn’t come up with it cleanly. Brensinger stole it and dribbled toward the open goal and fired home for the final tally.

NOTES >> Boyertown out-shot Phoenixville, 8-4. Michaud recording five saves while Valenti needed just three. …. Boyertown sophomore Hannah Mutter suffered a knee injury in the first half and did not return.

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