Kupsov, Willis lift Owen J. Roberts over Mt. St. Joseph

BUCKTOWN >> The Owen J. Roberts girls soccer team played with a mammoth chip on its shoulder last season in the District 1-AAA playoffs.

The chip may be smaller this year but the motivation hasn’t changed. With a week without a game to dwell, the stakes became even more clear ahead of their first-round matchup with Mt. St. Joseph.

“We basically talked about how we didn’t work all summer and all season just to throw away everything. Let’s not give anything away now,” senior Emilie Kupsov said. “We’re a really good team and we need to fight.”

The Wildcats showed what kind of team they are in building a five-goal lead through 55 minutes before the Magic were rewarded for their spirit. Yet three unanswered goals weren’t enough to overtake Owen J. Roberts’ attacking excellence as the Wildcats went on to a 6-3 victory Tuesday night at Wildcat Stadium.

Kupsov kicked off the scoring and finished the evening with three goals and an assist while sophomore Mahogany Willis had a goal and an assist while single goals were scored by Morgan Shronk and Kilee McCloud.

Mount St. Joseph's Ashley Pyne and Owen J. Roberts' Danika Swech battle for the battle during their District 1-AAA playoff game Tuesday. (Austin Hertzog - The Mercury)
Mount St. Joseph’s Ashley Pyne and Owen J. Roberts’ Danika Swech battle for the battle during their District 1-AAA playoff game Tuesday. (Austin Hertzog – The Mercury)

“We just have good finishers. This is the first time in I don’t know how long we have almost 50 goals between two people (Kupsov and Willis). You can’t stop both of them and I thought Morgan had a good game. She’s a nice compliment to those two,” OJR coach Joe Margusity said.

Mount St. Joseph, the No. 21 seed, got its goals from freshman Allison Prue, an own goal that junior Paige Comtois had a hand in and Ashley Pyne’s penalty kick.

MSJ (11-7) knew it would have its hands full with the No. 12 Wildcats (15-5).

“It’s pretty much what I expected. We knew that Mahogany Willis was very fast and Kupsov had a great foot and could be a deadly finisher,” Magic head coach Catherine Kulp said. “At halftime I said, ‘Are there any surprises?’ They said, ‘No, just the score.’”

It must have been after OJR captured a 4-0 lead after 40 minutes, Shronk firing home from the right side with 6.3 seconds left until halftime. It punctuated a dominated first half that was ignited by Kupsov beating a pair of tacklers to tee up the ball on her favored left foot on the edge of the penalty area. Willis was gifted a goal when she was played in by Kupsov. She got very little on the shot and the MSJ keeper and a defender both recovered to the goal line. But the two miscommunicated and the ball rolled past both to make it 2-0. Willis’ cross from the left side to Kuspov for a volley made in 3-0 in the 32nd minute.

It was a dream start to what the Wildcats hope is a long district run after winning three district-level games in 2014 to reach the PIAA play-in game.

“It’s honestly great to have that experience,” Kupsov said. “Last year (the freshmen starters) were inexperienced and now they’re experienced. I think we can go really far in the playoffs if we play to our potential.”

When Kupsov’s penalty kick for a hat trick made it 5-0, OJR was well on its way. But the Magic summoned some of it when their positivity, proven by their approach on the field and the JV players singing and chanting throughout, in the face of a big deficit led to three unanswered goals.

Owen J. Roberts' Emilie Kupsov dribbles past Mount St. Joseph's Gabby Good during their District 1-AAA playoff game Tuesday. (Austin Hertzog - The Mercury)
Owen J. Roberts’ Emilie Kupsov dribbles past Mount St. Joseph’s Gabby Good during their District 1-AAA playoff game Tuesday. (Austin Hertzog – The Mercury)

“We pride ourselves on our character. We never, ever give up,” Kulp said. “The character of these girls allowed them to get back in the game. That’s what they do at Mount St. Joe’s. They push themselves.”

The Magic’s consolation was the Wildcats’ disappointment, knowing giving up goals at that rate is a no-no around playoff time.

“It was a little worrisome how we gave up the goals with those mistakes,” Margusity said. “I thought we let them get back in it, which wasn’t a good thing. There was nothing good about that second half for us.”

“I thought we got frantic and we got too comfortable with the lead. That’s something we can’t let happen ever again,” Kupsov said.

On the bright side for OJR, they get a chance to correct it, which is no given in the postseason.

Notes >> OJR led in shots on goal 16-5 and corners 6-3. … Kiera McCloud made two saves while MSJ keeper Charlotte Sands recorded 10, including three dynamite stops early to keep it 0-0.

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