OJR falls to Ne­shaminy in PIAA semi­fi­nals

Ne­shaminy de­nies Owen J. Roberts a berth in the PIAA-4A ti­tle game

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Austin Hertzog ahert­zog@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @AustinHert­zog on Twit­ter

SOUD­ER­TON » The Ne­shaminy and Owen J. Roberts girls soc­cer teams faced off 10 days ear­lier.

The stakes weren’t quite the same in that meet­ing – third place in District 1 ver­sus Tues­day night’s matchup with a spot in the PIAA Class 4A cham­pi­onship game on the line – but don’t tell the Buck­skins that. They played both with the same will to win – and did.

Ne­shaminy made a pair of first-half goals, in­clud­ing ju­nior Brooke Mullin’s piv­otal even­tual game-win­ner with 23.1 sec­onds un­til halftime, hold up to de­feat Owen J. Roberts 2-1 in the PIAA4A semi­fi­nals and ad­vance to Fri­day’s ti­tle game in Her­shey.

“Mak­ing it to Her­shey, it’s been our goal the three years I’ve been at Ne­shaminy. It’s some­thing we’ve worked to­ward and I’m so proud of my team,” said Ne­shaminy se­nior de­fender Genna Obringer.

Obringer put Ne­shaminy (17-61) on the board in the 18th minute with a thun­der­ous close-range

header at the far post from a Jackie Ziegler cor­ner kick be­fore OJR fresh­man Sarah Kopec lev­eled the match with a de­ter­mi­na­tion goal where she stole the ball off a shield­ing de­fender try­ing to let the ball roll out for a 6-yard kick, found her­self in close and with an easy near­post shot for a goal seven min­utes later.

The game looked likely to go to halftime on level terms un­til a punt from OJR keeper Sa­man­tha Hughes bounced a num­ber of times in the mid­field and was played quickly back to­ward Mullin by Gina Sex­ton as the OJR de­fense and mid­field were still push­ing up. She ran through, pulled it on to her left to make the re­cov­er­ing de­fense miss and hit it past Hughes (10 saves) for the even­tual game-win­ner in the 40th minute.

Ne­shaminy, which fea­tured the back line of Obringer, Nicole Palmer, Han­nah Stonkus and Alex Ziegler, plus goal­keeper Ri­ley Springler (five saves), didn’t con­cede a goal in the sec­ond half and largely kept OJR’s 37-goal scorer Ma­hogany Willis in check thanks to an ag­gres­sive, front-foot ap­proach that had some of its ori­gins in their pre­vi­ous meet­ing.

“There was a lot of mo­ti­va­tion in this game. They claim they let us win the first time, that’s a thing that’s been go­ing around,” Obringer said of the district third-place game where OJR ex­tended its ro­ta­tion, “and we wanted to show them that they didn’t let us win, we were the bet­ter team tonight. We came away with two goals. We had a de­fen­sive mis­take for the first goal and held them off the rest of the game and we worked re­ally hard.”

Ne­shaminy has been on quite a run since en­ter­ing the District 1 play­offs as the No. 12 seed. Their only loss since the first round on Oct. 24 was to fi­nal­ist Spring­Ford in the district semis, 1-0. Oth­er­wise, they have won seven of eight post­sea­son games (11 of 12 over­all) – in­clud­ing the afore­men­tioned third-place game against OJR – to earn a spot in Fri­day’s fi­nal (4 p.m.) at Her­shey­park Sta­dium against District 7 run­nerup Nor­win, a 2-0 win­ner over District 3 champ Con­estoga Val­ley in Tues­day’s other semi­fi­nal. END OF THE ROAD » The Wild­cats con­cluded their sea­son 21-4 and with a Pi­o­neer Ath­letic Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship to their name. They had a 15-game win­ning streak dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son and qual­i­fied for the PIAA play­offs for the first time since 2011, led by a group of stand­out se­niors in Willis, who set the OJR sin­gle-sea­son scor­ing record with 37 goals and sur­passed 100 for her ca­reer, and All-PAC first team picks Kylie Cahill and Caro­line Thomp­son, plus ju­nior Kylee MacLeod.

“It’s been a com­bi­na­tion of the ma­tu­rity of the ju­nior and se­nior classes, and the ad­di­tion of those fresh­men that re­ally made it go,” coach Joe Mar­gusity said. “What re­ally helped this team was that they all gen­uinely liked each other. They wanted to be at prac­tice with each other, go far for each other. It’s hard to be one step away form the fi­nal and you don’t play your best game.”

OJR’s other se­niors in­clude Kali Pupo, Ju­lia Dal­ton, Danika Swech, Cody Wilkin­son, Ju­lia McHugh, Caitlin Wiand and Meghan Kirk­bride. YEARN TO EARN » Ne­shaminy’s Obringer al­ready has a state cham­pi­onship medal. She wants an­other, so she can feel like she earned it.

“I played for Villa (Joseph Marie) my fresh­man year (2014) when they won states, so I have a state medal that I sat on the bench for. When I trans­ferred to Ne­shaminy my sopho­more year, it be­came a goal to win a state medal, one that I worked for.”

AUSTIN HERTZOG — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Ne­shaminy’s Genna Obringer (13) heads in a goal from close range against Owen J. Roberts in the first half of their PIAA semi­fi­nal Tues­day at Soud­er­ton.

AUSTIN HERTZOG — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Ne­shaminy’s Michaela Boyd (10) tries to get past Owen J. Roberts’ de­fender Kylie Cahill (29).

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