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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.

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