By: John Knebels
Photos/Videos: Kathy Leister
TREVOSE – For the fifth straight year, there will be a different Catholic League girls’ soccer champion.
In a semifinal doubleheader last night at the Trifecta Sporting Club, Archbishop Ryan and Archbishop Wood advanced to the finals. Ryan shut out Little Flower, 3-0, and Wood blanked Lansdale Catholic, 2-0.
Like the previous three defending champions – Archbishop Ryan (2017), Archbishop Wood (2016), and Archbishop Ryan (2015) – Lansdale Catholic (2018) was unable to capture a back-to-back title. The last program to win consecutive crowns was Archbishop Ryan (four straight from 2012 to 2015).
Top-seed Ryan, which has captured five titles since 2012, the last coming in 2017, finished undefeated during the regular season. Two-seed Wood, which won the Catholic League championship in 2016, lost only lost one Catholic League game, a 2-1 decision to Ryan on September 16.
Freshman Daryn Savage scored in the first half and junior Leighann Kafel doubled the lead for the Vikings, whose stiff defense limited the Crusaders to few legitimate scoring chances.
“We remained dominant most of the game and stood our ground,” said Wood senior Emily Branchide. “We knew we just had to go out there and play the way we know how to, and I believe we accomplished that.”
Branchide said she understood the disappointment etched on the faces of defending champion Lansdale Catholic after the horn sounded.
“I’m sure they were devastated,” she said. “We were in their position last year when we lost to Ryan in the semis. But now the tables have turned this year and we get another shot at them (as in Ryan) in the final.”
Wood will face a Ryan team that has shut out five of its last six opponents.
In the Ragdolls’ win over four-seed Little Flower, senior Gianna Monaco assisted twice. Goal scorers included junior Emily Deluisi, sophomore Keri Gontz, and junior Kiersten Montag.
“Our defense had a great game, which limited their chances,” said Monaco. “We definitely controlled the tempo of the game and would’ve had a lot more chances if it wasn’t for their great defenders. Fortunately, we were able to capitalize on the ones that we did get.”
(Contact John Knebels at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.)