can count on their defense. Wood gets by on hustle and hard work and its back line is a perfect example of that.
Vikings keeper Connor Ford, a junior, is very solid and he has the support of a strong backline anchored by upperclassmen.
“We’ve put in a lot of time trying to get on the same page,” Wood senior fullback Shawn Clark said after winning the District 12 title. “We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and I’ve enjoyed playing with these guys all season.”
St. Basil Academy’s girls’ team may have given up more goals, but as one of the smaller teams in the AACA, the Panthers are usually playing up a class in league games. While it tacks a couple more losses onto their overall record, the Panthers have learned from those experiences.
Senior keeper Brooke Shissler anchors the defense, which is loaded with upperclassmen like senior center backs Paulina Storck and Brielle Piecyzk and senior fullback Jules Gura. The back line has been together for two-plus seasons, so they’re well-versed in covering for each other and playing as a group.
Last year, St. Basil went to a shootout in the first round of states, with Shissler coming up big to send the Panthers through.
“Our defense has been really strong all season,” Panthers midfielder Maddie Mccrae said. “Brooke is one of the best goalies in our league. We all saw how much the level goes up in states so we need them to keep playing that way.” DEPTH BY NECCESITY » It hasn’t been an easy road for Germantown Academy’s girls’ soccer team.
Ravaged by injuries all season, the Patriots finally started to get healthy just as the PAISAA tournament and the last few Inter-ac games came up on the schedule. GA handled George School in the first round of the PAISAA tournament, setting up a match Tuesday at defending state champ Westtown.
Losing so much time to injuries put GA in some rough patches this season, and on the end of some results it would like another try at. There was a silver lining for coach Chris Nelson and crew though, as a lot of players saw time this year and got the invaluable experience of playing in varsity games.
GA has six seniors on the roster, including Bailey Gilmore, Duke recruit Mac Pluck and Annelise Peterson, three key cogs in the attack. Pluck missed much of the early season with a concussion and while having her back is a huge boost for GA, her absence also allowed other players to step up.
“We know that anyone going into the game can help us,” senior co-captain Gilmore said. “It was tough at times during the season, but it gives us a lot more options now that most of our players are back.” PENN STATE PREPPING FOR RUN » The Penn State women’s soccer team found its stride at the right time.
After a grueling non-conference schedule and a lot of extra-time games in Big Ten play, the Nittany Lions went into the Big Ten Tournament with the lowest seed in program history. However, under the direction of head coach Erica (Walsh) Dambach, a Lower Moreland graduate, Penn State won the conference tournament Sunday.
Penn State’s roster has a number of ties to the area, including junior winger Marissa Sheva (Pennridge) who has scored four goals this season and started all 19 games she’s appeared in. Senior forward Megan Schafer, a Neshaminy graduate, leads the Lions with five goals and three assists.
Penn State earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament Monday afternoon and will host Stony Brook in the first round this weekend. Dambach has guided the Nittany Lions to two national championship games, losing to North Carolina in 2012 and topping Duke in 2015.
Also in the field is Atlantic-10 champion La Salle, which boasts senior Katherine Hennessey (Archbishop Wood), redshirt junior Julia Rufe (Pennridge) and freshman Ashley Pyne (Mount St Joseph) on its roster and Vanderbilt, where freshman Maddie Elwell (Wissahickon) has seen plenty of playing time. SHARING THE LOAD » St. Basil scored six goals in its District 1/12 AA regional final win over New Hopesolebury.
Each goal came from a different player and each strike was assisted. Mccrae, Meghan Didomenico and Cara Hughes each had two assists as St. Basil moved the ball and found the right players time and again.
With most of the team playing its third season together, it’s easy to see why the Panthers feel like they don’t have to rely on one or two players. St. Basil is able to attack defenses from multiple angles as well, either going out to the wings, using through balls or simply beating defenders off the dribble. TAYLOR MADE GOALS » Wood doesn’t have a true target player up top, but junior Cody Taylor has become the team’s go-to guy for scoring goals.
Taylor netted a hat trick in the District 12 final and has spent the entirety of the season growing into his role as a creator. After Wood graduated Mike Smith (Holy Family) and RJ Liszewski (Ursinus) after last season, the Vikings had to find players to build the attack around.
It’s not all Taylor, with Hugh Lynch, Bob Hennessey and Christian Petro all showing the ability to score this season, but with his speed and touch, Taylor has emerged as the player his teammates are looking for.
“At the beginning of the season it was a little iffy where my teammates were going to get it to me, but now they know where I want it,” Taylor said on Thursday.
Roman’s Nate Lindner and Archbishop Wood’s Bob Hennessey battle for a header.