Seniors, Shaeffer’s save help Pennridge top CB East

EAST ROCKHILL >> Pennridge senior Cady McKean picked a prime time for her first goal of the season.

After a first half that left the feeling whichever team scored first would gain serious momentum, McKean and fellow senior Raina Adelman delivered it. With a quality Central Bucks East team looking for any excuse to put a few goals away and end the Rams’ unbeaten start, the senior-to-senior tally opened the door for Pennridge.

Seizing the advantage, the Rams took off and put together a 4-0 win over the Patriots to end their Senior Night on a positive.

“All my teammates were thinking the same thing, we’re all working hard for each other,” McKean said. “I happened to be in the right position and I know if any of my teammates were in the same position, they would do the same thing. The best thing about all of our work, we don’t care who gets it, we just want to put it away.”

The night started with Rams senior Maddie Angelo, a Youngstown State recruit and all-league defender, taking a ceremonial touch before subbing out, her only game action of the season due to recovery from a torn ACL.

East then took it to the Rams for much of the first 20 minutes. When the teams met in the season opener, Pennridge won 5-0 but Rams coach Audrey Anderson stressed it was not a one-sided game. With plenty of size, speed and toughness across the field, the Patriots wanted to start their second half with a statement.

“I thought we did a really good job of going to goal and playing our style but ultimately, when you’re playing the top dog, they’re going to finish their chances ruthlessly,” Patriots coach Jake Nesteruk said. “Unfortunately on our end, we create two or three really good ones and just don’t bag them. Then, they come back and finish theirs.”

After 40 minutes, East had done everything it needed to do except score. Credit for that went to Pennridge junior keeper Sierra Shaeffer, who made a tremendous diving parry on a well-hit and curling effort off the foot of East forward Emma Martin.

Like her team’s attacking players, Shaeffer’s best would come in the second half but the late denial before halftime stood as an important one. A former keeper turned field player the last few years, Shaeffer donned the gloves once again the fall with her team in need and has played very well.

“We kind of had to get ourselves going, I knew I couldn’t let that go in,” Shaeffer said. “We want to come out strong and I think we definitely got pumped up at halftime and really got into the game.”

Pennridge drew a corner kick early in the second half with Adelman, who has played with McKean since they were about eight years old, heading over to take it. The midfielder, herself wearing a heavy brace from a previous ACL injury, delivered a perfect service to a group of Rams players in the box, with her longtime and future King’s College teammate McKean knocking it home.

The Rams nine seniors – McKean, Adelman, Angelo, Brielle Tasher, Kera Dam, Lauren Atchley, Lindsey DeHaven, Sammie McBride and Sam Kiwak – have all filled various roles and positions for the team over the years but are just grateful they have a final season together.

“It’s a really great thing, it just shows what Pennridge soccer is all about,” McKean said. “We all work for each other, people are able to step in when we need them and we put in so much effort at practice, it’s nice to see that pay off.”

The goal certainly helped Pennridge get moving forward at a higher clip and they forced a couple good saves out of East keeper Skyler Gash, including one from Tori Angelo off a nice series of passes in the next few minutes. However, the Patriots weren’t ready to leave after conceding a goal and Shaeffer was tasked to hold the line.

Martin, who is working her way back into the lineup, nearly leveled the score only to be denied on the doorstep by a sprawling save from Sheaffer with about 32 minutes left. Elliot Forney forced a save from long distance soon after as the junior held her ground.

“I always think that I’m doing this for my team and we’re in it all together,” Shaeffer said. “This month, we’re really focused on getting shutouts and my team in general, they all stand behind me and I just want to do my best for them as much as I can.

“I last played keeper about three years ago but I knew I had to do this for my team and they’ve all been so supportive. If it’s for the good of the team, I’m down with it.”

Spurred on by their keeper going all out, the Rams rewarded Shaeffer and her defenders with a few more goals. A free kick near midfield taken by co-captain DeHaven led to a 2-0 lead when her service got deflected by freshman Tori Angelo right to junior Riley Hepler, who converted from close range midway through the half.

Freshman Liv Grenda iced the game with a pair of goals three minutes apart in the final 11 minutes of play. The first saw the midfielder played in through the back, with Grenda forcing past a defender and slotting past the oncoming keeper.

Grenda then played Adelman a great pass, with the senior’s shot saved by Gash but Pennridge’s Leah Malone recovering the rebound and sliding a pass back to Grenda for a one-time finish.

“We work with each other, we know we’re going to make mistakes, but we’re always united as a team,” McKean said. “A big thing for me is being able to relax and control the game in front of me, but I also put myself in the mindset to play every game where I know I’m working for my team, they have faith in me and I’m just playing for them.”

While the short season is already halfway over, the Rams know they’re far from a finished product and they still have plenty of opponents looking to hand them a loss. But they also feel they’ve improved and simply want to keep moving in that direction.

“We have players on the field who are really assertive and they make sure we’re together,” Shaeffer said. “We’re finding our place and our style of play. I think we worked really well together and this was one of our best games.”

Goals: P – Cady McKean (Raina Adelman), Riley Hepler (Tori Angelo, Lindsey DeHaven), Liv Grenda, Grenda (Leah Malone).

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