RED HILL >> Gwynedd Mercy kept the pressure on Upper Perkiomen throughout Wednesday night’s District 1-3A girls soccer opening round match. And that constant attack paid off in the second half as the Monarchs scored three unanswered goals for a 4-2 win at Tribe Stadium.
Maddie Mele scored what proved to be the game-winner with 12 minutes to go for No. 9 seed Gwynedd Mercy (11-8), which advances to a quarterfinal match on Friday at 4 p.m. at No. 1 seed Villa Joseph Marie. The season came to an end for No. 8 seed Upper Perk (13-6).
The Indians led by scores of 1-0 and 2-1 in the first half, but the Monarchs tied the score at 2-2 early in the second half and added a late insurance goal.
“We just really wanted it,” said senior midfielder Mele. “We knew we couldn’t get down. We kept pushing through and got the goal.”
“We’re definitely a pressure team,” said Gwynedd coach Bill Dailey. “I’m really proud of them. They kept attacking, kept pressing. I’m really proud of what they accomplished tonight.”
Avery Diehl opened the scoring for the Indians in the eighth minute and Grace Hirschmann tied it nine minutes later. Then Hannah Keeney put Upper Perk back on top off an assist by Sara Edwards with nine minutes to go until the half.
But Gwynedd kept the pressure on, not giving the Indians any sustained possession.
“They high-pressured us the whole game,” said Upper Perk coach Mike Freed. “They never gave us any time to get comfortable.”
Gwynedd tied it at 2-2 just 1:12 into the second half on a goal by Samantha Berish.
Then things really started to pick up with 25 minutes remaining with end-to-end action and both teams creating numerous scoring opportunities.
Monarch goalkeeper Grace Galbreath (4 saves) kept the score tied when she made a diving save on a hard, low shot by Kate Cairns. Then Berish broke down the left side for a blast on goal, but Indian keeper Hannah Landis (7 saves) made the stop and then came up with another save a minute later when Mollie Hanson passed to Kaylie Griffin right out in front.
A score by Emily Meenan with three minutes to go wrapped up the win for the visitors.
“We’ve usually struggled coming back,” said senior captain Hanson. “This is big. It’s a great team.”
Last year, the Monarchs lost in the opening round.
“It’s been a little while since we’ve been to the semifinals,” said Dailey. “We’d like to do that and then win another and get to states. That’s really our goal right now.”
The loss ended a successful season for the Indians, who also made it to the Pioneer Athletic Conference playoffs.
“It’s disappointing to lose it, but I’m really proud of the effort this group gave the whole season,” said Freed. “To make both league and district playoffs with a varsity rotation that includes six freshmen and three sophomores and we went toe-to-toe with a very good team. Their seed is very deceiving because they started the season slow.
“The experience they got the last two weeks is invaluable as we move forward. Hopefully it will create a hunger, because we’re not going away.”
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