PAC Girls Soccer Final Four Preview: Spring-Ford vs. Perkiomen Valley, Upper Perkiomen vs. Owen J. Roberts

The Pioneer Athletic Conference Girls Soccer Final Four commences Tuesday, 5 p.m. at Owen J. Roberts.

Top seed and Liberty Division champion Spring-Ford meets No. 4 Perkiomen Valley in Wildcat Stadium while No. 2 Frontier champion Upper Perkiomen meets No. 3 seed Owen J. Roberts on Wildcat North.

A breakdown of the matchups:

Spring-Ford (1) vs. Perkiomen Valley (4)

Records >> Spring-Ford – 8-1-1 PAC Liberty, 11-1-1 PAC, 14-1-1 overall, No. 4 in District 1-4A rankings … Perkiomen Valley – 5-4-1 PAC Liberty, 7-5-1 PAC, 11-6-1 overall, No. 17 in DIstrict 1-4A rankings

Head-to-head >> Spring-Ford blanked Perk Valley 2-0 on Sept. 20 on the road. In the reverse fixture, the Rams and Vikings played to a 1-1 draw on Oct. 12, just five days ago.

PAC playoff history >> Spring-Ford has won four PAC titles (2013, 2014, 2016, 2021) and played in the final six times. … Perkiomen Valley will play in the PAC semifinals for only the second time in program history. PV made the final last season, losing to Upper Perkiomen in OT.

Spring-Ford at a glance >> The  previous two seasons’ growing pains have turned to pleasure for the Rams in 2023. With only one loss in 16 games, things have gone very right in first-year head coach Jeff Kushner’s first season as head coach. Spring-Ford has the league’s best midfield with the trio of senior Ally Garvey and juniors Molly Kennedy and Ava Hissong in the middle. Senior forwards Meg Kurian and Lena Ackerman have stepped up in the scoring department, a big domino in the Rams’ improvement this year. On defense in front of junior goalkeeper Olivia Neild includes defenders Sarah Hang, Siena Miller, Leah Watson and Mackenzie Hanley.

Perkiomen Valley at a glance >> The Vikings are making back-to-back trips to the PAC Final Four for the first time in program history. This year under first-year coach Kaitlyn Dougherty (a former Spring-Ford defender in her playing days) may have been the higher degree of difficulty with the departure of last year’s deep senior class. This year’s squad is led by senior midfielders Rain Boyd and Gianna Corropolese and forward Mia Milleo, junior defender Madi Lindsay and sophomore forward Giavanna Marciano. Freshman Brianna Young has made a recent impact on the scoresheet as well. Goalie Olivia Hulayew is in her second year as starter.

Matchup >> There is one stat that stands above the rest in PAC girls soccer this season: Spring-Ford’s six goals conceded in 16 matches. PV has capable goal scorers, namely Marciano, but the Vikings have only managed one goal in 200 minutes opposing the Rams this year. Having played five days earlier to a 1-1 draw won’t help the margin here. Both squads will have easy recall of the game plan and their neighbor’s tendencies. It means a close semifinal with Spring-Ford doing what it does – conceding nothing. … Spring-Ford 1, Perkiomen Valley 0

Owen J. Roberts (3) vs. Upper Perkiomen (2)

Records >> Owen J. Roberts: 8-2 PAC Liberty, 10-3 PAC, 12-6 overall, No. 15 in District 1-4A rankings … Upper Perkiomen: 10-0 PAC Frontier, 11-2 PAC, 14-4 overall, No. 1 in District 1-3A rankings

Head to head >> OJR and Upper Perk did not meet this season. Their last meeting was on Sept. 12, 2022, a 2-1 Upper Perk win.

PAC playoff history >> Upper Perkiomen is the defending PAC champion, which was its first PAC title since 2008. It’s their 12th trip to the Final Four. … Owen J. Roberts is 14-time PAC champion (nine better than second-place Boyertown) and is chasing a fifth title in seven years. OJR has made the Final Four 13 times in its 17 seasons (since 2006).

Upper Perkiomen at a glance >> Upper Perk was poised for a special year in 2022 and lived up to billing by winning the PAC and District 1 championships and reaching the PIAA Class 3A final. An encore was a near-impossible feat yet Upper Perk, now led by former assistant coach Casey Lewis, has come close considering it’s ranked No. 1 in District 1 (3A). Senior forward Sarah FIsher recently became the school’s all-time leading scorer and junior forward Sarah Straup has emerged as a second capable scorer. Senior midfielder Megan Cairns stars in the midfield. Other returning starters include defenders Elizabeth Proctor and Elyse Kreiner and goalkeeper Ava Long. Freshman holding midfielder Brooke Sullivan, sophomore Katie Proctor and defenders Morgan Sweed and Maelyn Bolinsky have also been contributors.

Owen J. Roberts at a glance >> The Wildcats’ participation in the PAC Final Four is an annual tradition, but their qualification this season after an 8-2 Liberty finish is richly earned following the graduation of the accomplished Class of 2023. Racking up wins is never far from the OJR program under longtime coach Joe Margusity, who recently became the first girls coach in Pa. history to surpass 500 career wins. Senior defender Sabrina Marks leads the way while senior Emerson Storti and junior Fiona Sanders have stepped up as scoring leaders. Avery Cies and Audry Fleck also join the attack. Other starters include Abby Kalbach, Logan Farrow, Ashley Gordon, Delaney Logan, Meryn Primanti and goalkeeper Abby Smith.

Matchup >> Both teams enter the semifinals on five-game winning streaks. OJR’s is more notable though considering it included dealing Spring-Ford its lone loss and a 3-1 win over fellow semifinalist Perk Valley, a positive sign after brushing off back-to-back upset losses prior to the run. Playoff games aren’t unfamiliar to these two programs after last year’s respective runs to the PIAA final and semifinals. OJR is at an advantage based purely on its recent level of competition versus Upper Perk facing weaker competition in the Frontier. It also has home-field advantage. But Upper Perk has the game’s elite scorer in Fisher and very fond memories from the last time the Tribe played a playoff game in Bucktown … Upper Perkiomen 2, Owen J. Roberts 1

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