Groff sis­ters pace Pen­nridge suc­cess

Se­nior twins have dif­fer­ent but cru­cial roles in Rams suc­cess

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By An­drew Robin­son arobin­son@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @ADRobin­son3 on Twit­ter

Af­ter she spots the ball for a cor­ner kick, one of the first things Molly Groff does is look for the No. 16 jersey in the box.

Groff, who wears No. 13, knows if she serves the ball to where her twin sis­ter Abby, No. 16, is, or is go­ing to be, it’s prob­a­bly go­ing to cre­ate a good scor­ing chance for Pen­nridge. The se­niors have scored a cou­ple sis­ter-to-sis­ter goals this fall, but that’s far short of the im­pact the twins have made for the Rams.

Abby, a for­ward and Molly, a cen­ter back, have been an in­te­gral part of the puz­zle for the Rams the past two sea­sons. They’ll be team­mates to­gether next year at Blooms­burg but they’re also look­ing to ex­tend this cam­paign in Sat­ur­day’s PIAA quar­ter­fi­nal round against Park­land.

“It’s been such a ride the past two years,” Molly said af­ter prac­tice Thurs­day af­ter­noon. “We grew as soc­cer play­ers to­gether, we’re go­ing to col­lege to­gether. We work off each other, we can get a lit­tle mad at each other on the field for sure, but it’s cool see­ing each other suc­ceed on the field.”

The Groffs have never played on dif­fer­ent teams – from youth leagues through mid­dle school, club and high school – and they’ve never played the same po­si­tions. Abby, the Rams’ lead­ing scorer the past two years, has al­ways played an at­tack­ing role while Molly, the back line’s stop­per, has al­ways been on the de­fen­sive end.

Their re­spec­tive po­si­tions fit their re­spec­tive per­son­al­i­ties. Rams coach Au­drey An­der­son said Molly is the more out­go­ing of the two, which helps with the com­mu­ni­ca­tion-heavy job of de­fend­ing while Abby is the more re­served, mak­ing her noise through her scor­ing.

“I’ve loved see­ing the growth from those two over the last four years, they’re so hard on each other but I feel as they’ve got­ten older and more ma­ture, they get it and feed off each other,” An­der­son said. “They’re their own worst crit­ics but they’re a fun duo.”

An­der­son added that last year, when Molly played as an out­side back and Abby spent time on the wing, she didn’t play the twins on the same side of the field. Even on Thurs­day, their ten­dency to get on each other’s case for missed plays or mis­takes still broke through, but it’s not com­ing from a bad place, they’re just both com­pet­i­tive.

“I think it’s bet­ter we don’t play the same po­si­tion,” Molly said. “If we played next to each other, we’d prob­a­bly be on each other all the time.”

“Molly’s tough, if she doesn’t think her sis­ter is giv­ing ev­ery­thing, she’ll tell her,” An­der­son said. “And Abby will tell her right back.”

As sopho­mores, the twins were re­serves on a se­nior-heavy team that went to the sec­ond round of the state tour­na­ment. Abby got play­ing time off the bench as an at­tacker, even notch­ing a shootoutwin­ning spot kick in the Dis­trict I 4A semi­fi­nals against CB South, while Molly con­tributed in prac­tices.

Abby and Molly both said be­ing around so many tal­ented se­niors that year – many who went on to play in col­lege – planted the idea that they would both try and play at the next level. Be­fore they could do that, the twins had to set­tle into much larger roles on the Rams as ju­niors.

“Learn­ing from those past play­ers, I picked up how to make more dan­ger­ous Soud­er­ton’s Averie Doughty taps the ball away from Pen­nridge’s Molly Groff.

runs, see­ing more dan­ger­ous balls I could play to other for­wards and check­ing back to help,” Abby Groff said. “I think be­ing around all those for­mer play­ers as a fresh­man and sopho­more helped me grow as a player.”

Abby quickly found a niche as the team’s go-to scorer and showed a knack for putting away over­time goals, in­clud­ing the one that handed the Rams a home win over Soud­er­ton last year, a goal she dubbed her fa­vorite at Pen­nridge. As the se­nior in the at­tack, Groff has tried to let her work ethic set the ex­am­ple for the un­der­class­men around her.

“I have to pre­pare for it men­tally and phys­i­cally and men­tally, it’s hard when you know a team is man-mark­ing you but Aud says to be con­stantly mov­ing and come in ex­pect­ing it,” Abby Groff said. “Hard work is the big­gest fac­tor in that.”

“Hard work” might as well be Abby’s catch­phrase with how of­ten the for­ward brings it up dur­ing in­ter­views and her sis­ter gave a very know­ing glance when it was men­tioned to her. Hard work is just as much a bench­mark on the de­fen­sive side, even if that end of the field doesn’t al­ways get the same credit.

“This year, we’re play­ing with mostly the same peo­ple, I mean we lost Court (Supp) which is a huge deal, but last year we got to know each other and now we’re ba­si­cally the same group,” Molly said. “We’re team play­ers, you can say that about ev­ery­one on this team, but for us, it’s al­ways been about hard work.”

Molly com­mit­ted to Blooms­burg first but the de­fender said she didn’t try to push her sis­ter in the same di­rec­tion. Abby’s mind was pretty much made up any­way, she just had to wait for a cou­ple things to fall in line for her de­sired ma­jor in nurs­ing. The twins are con­tin­u­ing a pipe­line from Perkasie to Blooms­burg with for­mer Rams Jess Supp and Jess Mil­li­gan on the Huskies’ ros­ter.

The Groffs have con­nected on a cou­ple goals this sea­son, which Abby said is a source of im­mense joy for their par­ents any time it hap­pens, but Molly has pro­vided plenty of other as­sists this fall.

“I wouldn’t want it any other way,” Abby said. “Both of us be­ing able to play on the same field has been so amaz­ing. Ev­ery time she’s as­sisted me, it just makes it that much more fun and a lit­tle sur­real. It’s def­i­nitely a sis­ter con­nec­tion.”

In her ten­ure at Pen­nridge, An­der­son has coached a lot of sib­lings and the Groffs aren’t her first set of twins. Hav­ing so many sets of sib­lings come through has fos­tered a very tight bond be­tween the play­ers on the field and it’s been a ben­e­fit for the pro­gram.

Both Abby and Molly Groff said they’re sat­is­fied with the team’s ac­com­plish­ments this sea­son, es­pe­cially get­ting back to states af­ter a shock­ingly early exit in the dis­trict tour­na­ment last year. The twins are try­ing to make the most of what­ever time they have left play­ing for Pen­nridge.

An­der­son said she’s go­ing to miss all eight of her se­niors next year and with the Groffs, those mo­ments where through all their cri­tiquing of each other, they took joy in the other’s ac­com­plish­ments.

“I like when one of them does some­thing great, the other one is the first there to cel­e­brate with them,” An­der­son said. “I love the ban­ter they have back and forth. They’re not go­ing to be room­mates but I think hav­ing those two girls in the same pro­gram will be fun for their coaches but they also bring a dif­fer­ent ele­ment to any pro­gram, from their goofi­ness, to how they treat each other. They couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent but I re­ally be­lieve they’re each other’s best friend and are truly there for each other.”

GENE WALSH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Pen­nridge’s Abby Groff chases down a pass dur­ing game with Soud­er­ton.

DEBBY HIGH — FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

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