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Boyertown pushes Owen J. Roberts in scoreless PAC Liberty draw

BOYERTOWN >> The Owen J. Roberts girls soccer team hadn’t faced too much resistance while starting the season on a 13-game winning streak.

Wednesday night at Boyertown, the Wildcats got all the resistance they could handle.

All that resistance still didn’t manage to put a loss in the Wildcats’ loss column as Owen J. Roberts and Boyertown settled for a 0-0 draw at BASH Memorial Stadium.

The Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division matchup felt like the heyday of the OJR-Boyertown girls soccer rivalry that has often headlined the league over the years, with the game’s physicality matching the occasion.

“You could feel the rivalry on the field,” OJR senior defender Brinley Beveridge said. “It’s a big rivalry.”

Boyertown’s Samantha Goffice (11) carries the ball forward along the sideline as Owen J. Roberts’ Kenzie Milne gives chase. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Owen J. Roberts’ record went to 6-0-1 PAC Liberty (9-0-1 PAC) and 13-0-1 overall after recording yet another shutout. The reigning PAC champion and PIAA semifinalist Wildcats have allowed just one goal all season while netting 53, by far the highest differential in southeast Pa.

Boyertown went to 3-2-2 PAC Liberty (6-2-2 PAC) and 8-3-3 overall, running its own unbeaten streak to nine games (their last loss dating to Sept. 13 vs. Spring-Ford).

The Bears showed no signs of being phased by a matchup with the No. 1 ranked team in the District 1-4A power rankings.

“We felt that we had nothing to lose and they had everything to,” defender Ryane Bernstiel said, “and that really drove us to play harder and not give up.”

Owen J. Roberts’ Veronica Roach (23) tries to control the ball as Boyertown’s Mikayla Moyer pressures. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

“We try to not worry about who we’re playing, but just focusing on playing as hard as we can every game,” defensive midfielder Mikayla Moyer said.

The Wildcats were on the ropes as much as they have been with the Bears carrying the greater scoring threat throughout thanks to Samantha Goffice and Emma Elwell’s pace testing the OJR defense consistently. Boyertown’s best chance came in the final minute of regulation with Elwell in on a breakaway. But her shot to the left was gloved wide by OJR sophomore goalkeeper Samantha Hughes, a game-saver to be sure.

“The defense does a lot for me,” Hughes said. “I don’t get a lot of shots (against me) every game because of them, so I gave myself up for them.”

Owen J. Roberts’ Samantha Hughes makes a save on an Emma Elwell breakaway in the final minute of regulation. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Hughes made four saves, a number that could have been higher if not for the protection of Beveridge, freshman center back Mo Weaver, outside backs Kenzie Milne and Emily Sands and defensive midfielder Shaylan Cobb, who was deputizing for injured standout Kylee MacLeod (ankle).

The Bears’ defense — Bernstiel and Aurora Conrad at center back, Megan Knier and Aimee Toscano at outside back and Mattie Gallagher in goal (five saves) — was even better, denying OJR any quality scoring chances over 100 minutes. The Wildcats had a valid penalty claim in the first overtime when Hannah Delahaye was tripped in the penalty area, but referees adjudged it to be incidental contact.

While the Wildcats exuded the body language of a team that had lost, they recognize the value of the challenge.

“This was a big mental and physical test for us. I think we’ll use it,” Hughes said. “And if we play them again in the (PAC) Final Four, we’ll look back on this.”

Boyertown’s Mattie Gallagher makes a save against Owen J. Roberts. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Boyertown’s path isn’t quite as clear, but Thursday will go a long way in seeing if the Bears can return to the league’s postseason with a meeting with Spring-Ford (9-3) on tap.

“I think we’re definitely progressing,” Bernstiel said. “We haven’t reached our potential, but we’ll get there.”

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