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Upper Perkiomen survives Perkiomen Valley, advances to PAC title game

RED HILL >> The shots kept coming and coming at Lynnsi Joyce.

Upper Perkiomen’s sophomore goalie, with a little help from her defense, kept knocking them away and away.

The Indians survived five penalty corners in the final three minutes Tuesday against Perkiomen Valley, the last ending with Joyce saving a shot over her head, to clinch a 1-0 win and a spot in the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship, where they will face Owen J. Roberts on Thursday night at Upper Perk.

“It was just insane,” Joyce said of the game’s final minutes. “We just wanted the ball out. We were working together so well. We were just one unit together…That really pushed us over the edge I think with the win, that last save stopping their momentum.”

 

Perkiomen Valley had Upper Perkiomen’s number heading into Tuesday’s matchup. The Vikings defeated the Indians 3-2 in last year’s PAC semifinal and came away with a 3-2 overtime win against Upper Perk earlier this season.

After PV dominated the first 15 minutes of play, Ashlyn Gatto tipped in a shot by AiYi Young to put Upper Perkiomen ahead 1-0 with 11:32 left in the first half off a corner. Young said it came off a play the Indians had been working on in practice.

The goaltending of Joyce, who made seven saves combined with the defensive efforts of Luci Carpenter, Tori Williams and Bella Carpenter, who made two defensive saves, protected the lead for the rest of the game and helped the Indians get revenge on their Frontier rival.

“We really came out and we really wanted it this time because we were tired of getting beat,” Joyce said.

“I think this game, we had a lot of confidence coming into the game because we wanted to beat them so bad,” Young added. “Everything just happened right for us tonight.”

Upper Perkiomen’s, from left, Takoda Wells, AiYi Young and Ashlyn Gatto celebrate Gatto’s goal against Perk Valley on Tuesday. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

The Vikings had good chances in the early going, with Katie Wuerstle missing a close shot and Bella Carpenter making a defensive save on a wide open net after a Kaci Shelton breakaway.

With five minutes left in the first half and trailing by one, PV put the pressure on again. Joyce made a kick save and followed with a full-extension diving stop on what looked to be a sure Perk Valley goal.

“When you look at us, Owen J., Methacton, Spring-Ford, Upper Perk, flip a coin each time they play,” PV coach Erik Enters said. “Although I really feel like we dominated three quarters of the game, we just didn’t score.”

“That goalie saved the game right there,” he added. “That diving stop, and then the defender stopping it on the empty net. Right there are potentially two goals for us, and their defense stepped up and made the stops.”

Upper Perkiomen’s Takoda Wells, left, defends Perkiomen Valley’s Ashley Elvidge. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Perkiomen Valley had nine corners in the game, compared to seven for Upper Perk.

Upper Perk stopped a PV corner with 10 minutes left in the game and then another around the six-minute mark. Starting with 2:48 left in the game, PV had five corners to try and equalize.

Joyce came out of the goal twice to makes stops and Carpenter saved another that got past her goaltender before Joyce used her left hand to bat away a chip shot over her head with 30 seconds left.

“It was definitely stressful,” Young said. “But us back there, the defensive unit in the cage, we were cheering each other saying that we only got a couple more minutes, so let’s keep up the energy and play through it. We know that we got it.”

Perk Valley went through the regular season undefeated in 2018 before falling to Owen J. Roberts in the PAC and district championship games.

The Vikings are ranked No. 4 in the District 1 Class 3A power rankings and look hopeful to starting their season anew after battling through a difficult Pioneer Athletic Conference.

“We’d like to be back in the title game, if not win it, preferably, and then go deep in states again,” Enters said of PV’s district outlook. “That’s what we just talked about. That’s the end of the regular season. Now, this is our second season.”

Upper Perkiomen last went to the PAC championship game in 2016. Getting back to the PAC title game was one of the Indians’ preseason objectives after the close loss to the Vikings last year.

The Indians lost the 2016 championship contest to OJR, 2-1. On Thursday night, they’ll hope to claim the program’s first league championship since 2013, when they beat the Wildcats, 4-2.

“It’s amazing,” Young said. “It’s everything that we worked for at the beginning of the season when we started our goals. Now that we’re finally there, we’re so excited and happy.”

Perkiomen Valley’s Kaci Shelton (26) dribbles the ball with Upper Perkiomen’s Luci Carpenter (27) closing in. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

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