Pennridge goes for goals in win over Souderton

EAST ROCKHILL >> Pennridge had designs on scoring multiple goals Tuesday afternoon.

Coming off their first loss of the season last Thursday at Central Bucks West, the Rams wanted to prove something to themselves against a quality opponent in Souderton. Pennridge felt it had left far too many goals on the pitch against the Bucks and was determined to make up for it.

Thanks to some stellar ball movement, the offense responded in kind as the Rams topped the Indians 5-1 at Helman Field.

“We had a practice on Saturday and our main focus was just scoring goals,” Rams senior Lindsey DeHaven said. “We really wanted to score those goals but also come out hard from the start because we were lacking that energy against West. We needed to start looking at these games as preparing for playoffs and districts.”

DeHaven was especially on task against Souderton, as the High Point recruit scored two goals and tallied two assists on the afternoon. Sophie Craig scored twice, Riley Hepler had a goal and two assists and Raina Adelman added a helper for a Rams team that just connected well.

Normally a center mid, Hepler started at center forward Tuesday and when subbed off in the first half, noted the team wasn’t playing the ball to feet well enough. It was part of the team’s halftime talk and certainly paid off as Pennridge bagged four of its five markers after the break.

“After losing to West, we all put our heads together and knew what we wanted,” Hepler said. “We wanted to play as a team and play together, so that’s how I think we won today.”

The Rams struck just before the midpoint of the first half when DeHaven intercepted a clearing kick from Souderton keeper Morgan Molyneaux. Fighting for the 50/50 ball that followed, DeHaven was able to get it to Adelman and continued toward net where Adelman played her through for a 1-v-1 finish.

Souderton, which had gotten pinned in early in the game, was also now playing from behind. The Indians are dealing with a handful of injuries at the moment and entered the game at No. 25 in the District I 4A rankings, with just the top 16 qualifying for states.

Their chance to make a statement of their own didn’t get much of a chance to materialize as they worked hard just to break through Pennridge’s pushed-up formation.

“It felt like we just couldn’t get out,” Souderton coach Ian Smith said. “It looked like some tired legs. I think our first game was a more accurate representation of the level these teams are at but this game, we were definitely outworked and just couldn’t put it together for a full 80.”

Despite some good flashes in attack during the first half, the Rams led just 1-0 at the break. They certainly felt as though they left a few chances on the pitch but Molyneaux was also sharp and made a couple quality saves to keep it a one-goal game.

The Rams were out for goals and they were determined to get them in the second half. With Jess Levush, who filled in Hepler’s vacated center midfield spot, DeHaven and Liv Grenda driving the ball through the middle, Pennridge started to get its connective play going.

“We had an edge all week,” Rams assistant coach Jason Lollar said. “Everything we want to play for this year is still there for us and we felt like we had something to prove today. We got our outside backs involved, Jess Levush played really, really well, Riley Hepler in first game in that target role played really well and we just connected.”

Hepler wanted the ball at her feet and she got it a little more than a minute into the second half. DeHaven slipped a through pass up to the junior, who one-timed a rip into the back of the net for a 2-0 advantage.

Tori Angelo, who was aggressive going to goal, was able to win a corner nine minutes into the second half, allowing Hepler and DeHaven to combine again. This time it was Hepler on the helper as the converted forward’s corner kick found DeHaven for a glancing header on the far post.

“Even though we lost, the West game is where things clicked for us and we started playing good soccer in the midfield,” DeHaven said. “We’re continuing to build on that and we worked on stretching out their midfield but also playing our game and possessing the ball.”

Hepler dimed up another assist when she slipped Craig a through ball with 18 minutes left and the freshman forward tucked away a neat finish inside the post. Hepler dropped back to a midfield position for a few shifts, giving Pennridge another good connective passer in the middle of its formation.

“We all knew it was time to put the ball in the back of the net,” Hepler said. “For us, age doesn’t really matter, it only matters how we play as a team. Until we lost to West, we could fall into playing an individual game and working hard at practice, we all realized our goals and focused on playing as a team.”

Despite looking at a four-goal deficit, Souderton continued to work hard all game. Avery Nogami has provided the Indians a huge spark off the bench all season and the junior was at it again on Tuesday, putting herself in the mix time and time again.

Her intensity led to a goal for the Indians when she was able to track down a mis-hit clearance, fight through a couple tackles and play the ball to Megan McCollum. McCollum, isolated, was able to draw out the keeper and finish to the far post with 15 minutes remaining.

“She’s somebody who inspires the offense to pick up the work rate, bring the intensity and try to win the ball up the field,” Smith said. “That’s exactly what we need but with those tired legs, it didn’t have the entire affect today.”

Pennridge answered shortly with maybe its best goal of the day. DeHaven slotted a ball from the middle of the field right in the path of senior fullback Kera Dam, who one-touched a gorgeous cross into the box that Craig met in the air for a header that looped over the keeper and in.

“One of our strengths as a team is that we’re always looking for those through balls and just playing really good soccer,” DeHaven said. “Our forwards do a great job of making those runs and recognizing those balls, which is a result of what we work on at practice.”

Souderton hosts CB West on Thursday afternoon as it seeks a big result to push for the postseason. Smith said he still has plenty of faith in his team and is looking into adding games regardless of how the Indians’ postseason push continues.

The Rams will be back at home as they host CB South in their annual Pink-Out game on Thursday night.

“We wanted to make today’s game a statement game,” DeHaven said. “Credit to West, they played well and they deserved it, but we wanted to show today we’re back and better from it.”

“We wanted to prove to ourselves, our coaches and everyone on our team we can do whatever we put our minds to,” Hepler said. “I think we were able to go out and do that.”

Goals: P – Lindsey DeHaven (Raina Adelman), Riley Hepler (DeHaven), DeHaven (Hepler), Sophie Craig (Hepler), Craig (DeHaven, Kera Dam); S – Megan McCollum (Avery Nogami).

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