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Fisher’s healing touch allows Upper Perkiomen to top Owen J. Roberts in PAC final rematch

Upper Perkiomen's Sarah Fisher leaps to compete for the ball against Owen J. Roberts' Abby Kalbach in the second half Monday. (Austin Hertzog - MediaNews Group)

RED HILL >> The scars – both figurative and literal – were fully on display.

How else to describe what the Upper Perkiomen girls soccer team was left with after their meetings with Owen J. Roberts in 2021? First was the 5-0 regular season trouncing on Sept. 30, then the gutting 3-0 defeat in the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship game on Oct. 21.

Then, the ones you can see.

“We have matching scars,” said senior midfielder Kyra Lesko, as she and junior forward Sarah Fisher simultaneously show the vertical cutlines down the outside of their knee, proof of the ACL tears that cost them last high school season (Lesko) and the past club season (Fisher). They even went to the same doctor, orthopedic surgeon Scott Doroshow at St. Luke’s in Allentown, for their procedures.

The pain made the gain that much sweeter Monday when Fisher fired a right-footed shot from 25 yards to the upper-left corner of goal three minutes into overtime to give Upper Perkiomen a 2-1 victory over Owen J. Roberts in a rematch of last season’s PAC championship.

Teammates race to congratulate Sarah Fisher, second from right, after she scored the game-winning goal against Owen J. Roberts on Monday. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

“I’m ecstatic,” said Fisher, who was an All-State and All-Area first team forward in 2021. “This is great, and to do it on our home field. It’s great for our scores and points and boosts our ego.”

“I feel like it was an all-around great effort from everybody, start to finish,” said Lesko, who was All-PAC first team as a sophomore. “We came into this game and we were nervous – we haven’t won against them in a while – but we came out and proved that we can play with them.”

It was Upper Perk’s first win over OJR since 2013 and improves it to 7-0. Meanwhile, Owen J. Roberts, last year’s District 1 finalist and PIAA quarterfinalist, fell to 3-2 overall.

Owen J. Roberts goalkeeper Colby Wasson dives on a penalty kick rebound ahead of the on-rushing Upper Perkiomen penalty-taker Sarah Edwards. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

The Tribe took the lead in the 12th minute when Lauren Powers headed home an Erin Edwards corner kick that was first headed by Megan Cairns.
Wildcats senior forward Alexa Vogelman beat a double team and leveled the match 1-1 in the 20th minute.

That’s how it stayed for the rest of regulation, but it was anything but a dull one. It was an entertaining match for the neutral, end-to-end play with OJR controlling most of possession through midfield maestro Gabbi Koury but Upper Perk was very threatening on the counterattack against OJR’s high defensive line thanks to the quick-thinking midfield play of Lesko and Megan Cairns and attacking of Fisher, Sarah Edwards and Sarah Straup.

Upper Perk was primed to go on top when Straup was fouled from behind in the penalty area. But OJR keeper Colby Wasson (4 saves) stopped Edwards’ attempt to her left and collected the rebound at the 27:13 mark of the second half to keep it 1-1.

OJR looked likeliest to win it late in regulation with their best opportunity a Vogelman rip from 25 yards being tipped by Ava Long (10 saves) off the crossbar and the UP sophomore goalkeeper was able to recover the rebound with under five minutes remaining.

“It was completely nerve-wracking, but I had faith in my team,” said Long. “I knew even if they made a mistake I was there. I felt confident that I could put the game away.”

Upper Perkiomen goalkeeper Ava Long collects the ball ahead of Owen J. Roberts attacker McKenzie Hagerty during Monday’s game. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

While a great deal of the Upper Perk starting XI returned this season, a spot of uncertainty was at goalkeeper due to the graduation of multi-year starter Gabby Neal, now at Division I La Salle.

Long has risen to the challenge, asking to play the position late in the 2021 season and putting in offseason work with head coach Mike Freed and former UP standout keeper Hannah Landis (junior starter at Wilkes University).

“I played (goalie) when I was 8. No one else was doing it and I knew I could step up and do it,” said Long.

Her willingness to rise to the challenge has impressed her teammates.

“Bravery is a good word – keeper is a hard position to play. You’ve gotta really have confidence,” said Fisher. “She’s stepped forward and done a great job since summer league.”

Upper Perkiomen’s Kyra Lesko (32) puts in a tackle on Owen J. Roberts’ Olivia Thompson on Monday. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

The game-winner came when Lesko, who was a tackling machine in the defensive midfield, won the ball back in the OJR end, passed left to Fisher. The Tribe’s No. 9 took a touch left and ripped the shot from 25 yards.

On a day full of Upper Perk bright spots, Lesko assisting the winner and being a tackling machine in the midfield after missing last year was one of the brightest.

“It’s the best feeling,” she said of her return. “It was so hard to miss the high school season last year, missing representing the school, the spirit, your friends. I was so excited to play again.”

Upper Perk sits at No. 1 in the District 1 Class 3A rankings in the early stages, thanks to Monday’s banner win.

Owen J. is still trying to settle with four key injuries affecting its starting XI.

“We should have done a lot better finishing our chances,” said OJR coach Joe Margusity. “I know we’re thin but we’ve gotta play all the way through. It’s early in the season, but two overtime losses early in the season is not a good thing.”

Owen J. Roberts’ Gabbi Koury, left, kicks a shot from distance as Upper Perkiomen midfielder Megan Cairns tries to put in a block on Monday. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Despite Monday’s setback, OJR already has Liberty Division wins over Spring-Ford (4-1) and Boyertown (6-1) and is the firm favorite to reclaim the division crown.

Now, it will be the Wildcats’ turn to eagerly hope for a rematch with the Indians, something that could only happen with a PAC final repeat when it’s staged on Oct. 20.

Owen J. Roberts vs Upper Perkiomen


Club 1st Half 2nd Half OT Goals
Owen J. Roberts 1 0 0 1
Upper Perkiomen 1 0 1 2

UP – Lauren Powers (Megan Cairns/Erin Edwards), 12 min
OJR – Alex Vogelman, 20 min
UP – Sarah Fisher (Kyra Lesko), 83 min 

Upper Perk: 11 attempted, 6 on goals
Owen J Roberts: 22 attempted, 11 on goal

Ava Long (UP): 10
Colby Wasson (OJR): 4

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