EAST ROCKHILL >> Amelia Loughery wasn’t going to give up on the play, or rather, she couldn’t let herself give up on the play.
The Pennridge senior had drawn a foul in the second half of Wednesday’s rivalry game with Souderton but had her initial take on the eight-meter attempt broken up by the Indians defense. Much like the effort she put into rehabbing a torn ACL in July to get back on the field for her final season, Loughery kept after it and got the ground ball before finding fellow senior Natalie Yilanjian cutting to the net for a goal.
Loughery missed the early part of the season finishing her recovery, but has given the rolling Rams a spark in their attack just by filling her role and putting in plenty of effort.
“I just told myself ‘I’m not giving up on that,'” Loughery said of that specific play. “I just missed but I was getting it back and I was going to assist one of my teammates. I wasn’t going to force it, but I saw my teammate wide open and that’s our team, we’re always setting up the next person because it means more to get the assist than the actual goal.”
Natalie Yilanjian from Amelia Loughery, 17-11 Rams 8:33 to go pic.twitter.com/KQ1K7d4tDH
— Andrew Robinson (@ADRobinson3) May 5, 2022
Loughery finished with three goals and two assists including that hard-fought helper as the Rams topped Souderton 22-12, setting up a pivotal SOL National game against North Penn next Monday night. All the senior was worried after the game however, was giving props to her teammates and relishing the opportunity she gave herself to play with them after working to get cleared to back on the field this spring.
If the name Loughery sounds familiar in reference to Pennridge athletics, it should. Amelia’s oldest sister Grace was a standout lacrosse player for the Rams and is now a top defender as a senior for the U.S. Naval Academy’s women’s team vying for a Patriot League title and her other sister Evelyn was a fixture in the rotation of Pennridge’s girls’ basketball team.
On top of all that, their mom Kathy is an assistant coach for the Rams’ lacrosse team so it’s a full family affair for the Lougherys.
Amelia has committed to play at Liberty – where Evelyn currently attends as a regular student – and didn’t want to try and rush herself back only to re-injure herself with more lacrosse in her future. At the same time, not finishing the family legacy in Pennridge green was also out of the question.
“Grace and Evelyn, I look up to them so much, I wish I was half the player my sisters were in their sports,” Amelia said. “I’m the youngest but even if they’re not here, I know they’re supporting me and always cheering me on and they were such a big part of my recovery too.”
Ironically, Loughery’s injury came at her next stop when she tore the ACL in her left knee during a Liberty team camp in July. Noting it’s usually a longer recovery time for that type of injury, Loughery gave plenty of effort to try and beat the prognosis.
“I got cleared after seven months for contact, I’d say hard work is my biggest thing, I was going to PT two times a week and putting my all into it because this is the biggest part of my life,” Loughery said. “I wasn’t training to get back for this season, I was training for my coming years at Liberty but I was blessed to be able to come back without pushing it.”
The senior wasn’t quite ready for the start of the season, so her initial role was to cheer everyone else on from the sideline until she was good to be out there with them. It was frustrating not being able to carry a stick out and try to help set up goals or finish passes, but Loughery was where she wanted to be and just had wait a little longer to get the final clearance a few games in.
Seeing the start of a really fluid and connected offense, Loughery didn’t want to step on the field and break up the flow so she just looked to give whatever the team needed in a given outing.
“She’s such a smart player both in the attack and as a role player, with her knowledge of the game, it gives some relief to Maddy Edinger, Grace Rosica, Ava Fantaskey, really the whole unit,” Ram coach Karen Feher said. “Everyone meshes so well together and having that piece to the puzzle back made everyone else feel more confident.
“We kept it a slow process bringing her back, we wanted to make sure she was healthy before bringing her back but she just went in and meshed with everyone.”
Wednesday, Loughery had an unusual goal when she was fouled by Souderton’s goalie to set up an eight-meter on an open net in the first half. She buried that one but quickly pointed out her other goals were set up by teammates, which the senior believes has been the key to Pennridge’s turnaround season.
There’s a lot of attacking talent on the team, like seniors Yilanjian and Edinger plus Fantaskey and midfielder Rosica but also a ton of passing between them.
Pennridge missed out on the postseason last year but the Rams are in good standing as they enter the final stretch of the regular season poised not only for a district bid but an opportunity to compete for an SOL title. They can’t look too far ahead, but that’s no problem for Loughery, who knows better than anyone to make the most of every moment.
“My teammates are my biggest supporters, I couldn’t do this without them,” Loughery said. “I’ve been playing with so many of these girls since the first grade, so this means the world to me. I really don’t take anything for granted because I know how fast it can all get taken away.”
PENNRIDGE 22, SOUDERTON 12
Whether it was the short turnaround from a high-tempo win over Pennsbury on Tuesday, the Senior Night festivities pregame or both, the Rams started slow on Wednesday.
Souderton jumped out to a 3-0 lead before Rosica got the hosts on the board and the Indians led 4-2 with a shade less than 10 minutes left in the first half. Loughery’s open-net goal tied the score 4-4 before Fantaskey gave the hosts their first lead with 4:30 left in the half.
“They just want it, they have this team mentality and you can see it in the games,” Feher said. “When somebody makes an assist, they’re so excited for the girl who made the goal. They’re not acting upset they missed on scoring, they’re running to the girl who scored, it’s just a great team dynamic.”
The Indians are fighting through some injuries and illness that have them shorthanded, but there was no lack of fight from the visitors who trailed just 8-6 at the intermission. Lauren Hallman had a lot to do with that, scoring five of her six goals in the first half and putting out a ton of effort to try and keep her team in striking distance.
“When we have possession, we can score, so not keeping possession tonight is what hurt us,” Hallman said. “I think our effort is amazing, we just have to find ways to capitalize on the little things and keeping possession, which will lead to us scoring.”
A goal by Reiley Knize had Souderton within 9-7 early in the second half before Pennridge started to pull away. Three straight goals, capped by Loughery’s third of the night off a nice feed by Kendall Posey gave the Rams a bit of cushion before the Indians scored three of the next four with Hallman’s sixth cutting the lead to 13-11 with 15:22 to play.
Pennridge then ripped off eight straight, the fourth being the Loughery to Yilanjian tally, to put the game out of reach.
Loughery, Edinger, Yilanjian, Fantaskey, Rosica and Kate Unzicker all had hat tricks for Pennridge while Sophie Craig and Posey each netted two.
“Our coaching puts so much into us and we love each other, we are a family,” Loughery said. “I’m doing it for all my other teammates, it’s not about me, it’s about the team.
“We don’t come into any game lightly, every game is an opportunity we need to win and we need to get better from.”
PENNRIDGE 8 14 – 22
SOUDERTON 6 6 – 12
Goals: P – Grace Rosica 3, Maddy Edinger 3, Kate Unzicker 3, Ava Fantaskey 3, Natalie Yilanjian 3, Amelia Loughery 3, Sophie Craig 2, Kendall Posey 2; S – Lauren Hallman 6, Reiley Knize 3, Ang Borisow 2, Yasmin Khatri.
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