Team advances to District I AA semifinal game before losing
When the seedings came out for the District 1-AA girls soccer playoffs earlier this month, a rematch with the same Marple Newtown side that eliminated the Upper Perk team last season certainly had to bring back some unpleasant memories. But with Upper Perk seeded fourth, it meant an opportunity to atone for the 3-1 loss to the Tigers on their home field.
Using their speed and some precision passing from midfield, the Tribe overwhelmed their guests, tallying three goals in the first 21 minutes of the contest on their way to a 4-0 first round victory last Wednesday night.
The game was not yet two minutes old when leading scorer Kayla Smith ran onto a pass from Jess Spano and raced in alone on goal, calmly beating goalkeeper Amanda Goodyear with her shot. The lead was doubled in the 17th minute as Smith split the defenders with a pass, sending Erica Greco in on a breakaway, which she placed in the far corner. Four minutes later the Tribe again beat the Marple Newtown offside trap, resulting in another breakaway for Smith. Marple defender Danielle Collins took down Smith in the box, resulting in a penalty kick. Smith stepped up and again beat Goodyear for her second goal of the game and a commanding lead.
Marple Newtown did their best to battle back in the latter stages of the first half and early second half, but the Upper Perk defense held strong, getting some timely clearances by defenders Brooke Knisely, Aubrey Gibbs, Morgan Rynn and Kylie McGonigle, along with solid goalkeeping from Maggie Ortlip. Upper Perk continued to beat the offside trap, with Haley Stauffer, Greco and Shae Duka all seeing shots rattle off the crossbar or post.
If the Tigers had any hope of getting back in the game, it was crushed by the Tribe with 12 minutes remain. Mackenzie Gebhardt’s shot was saved by Goodyear, but the rebound dropped right in front of goal, allowing Greco a tap-in for her second goal of the game. Ortlip produced a fine save in the final minute to preserve the team’s sixth shutout of the season.
The win sent the Tribe into Monday evening’s District 1-AA semifinals at Council Rock North High School, taking on the top seeded Villa Joseph Marie Jems. VJM, who entered the contest 13-2-0, are the defending District champs and provided a formidable challenge for Upper Perk.
Much of the first half saw VJM on the attack, with the Upper Perk defense proving up to the challenges. On one of their few journeys into the Gems’ end of the field, Upper Perk almost took the lead as Kayla Smith’s shot appeared headed for the goal until goalkeeper Caroline Gray stuck out a foot to deflect it wide. VJM continued to apply pressure, producing numerous fine saves from Maggie Ortlip. In the 34th minute, a cross to the near post allowed Kristen Glaum to turn and blast the ball past Ortlip to give the Gems a 1-0 lead.
The second half produced a few more opportunities for the Tribe, but a well-struck free kick 14 minutes from the end by Katie Bell produced the final score of 2-0.
Ortlip would finish the game with nine saves, with Kaylie McGonigle, Morgan Rynn, Aubrey Gibbs and Brooke Knisely giving stellar efforts in defense for the Tribe. The game was only the third time in 21 matches that the Tribe was shutout.
Despite the loss, it was a highly successful season for the team. In addition to being the first girls soccer team to reach the district semifinals, they also set a record for most regular season wins (13) and tied the record for total wins (14).