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GIRLS SOCCER: Catholic League Showdown Lives Up to its Pre-Game Hype

By Marc Narducci - Photos: Donna Eckert, Lennie Malmgren & Rachel Macauley, 10/01/21, 1:30PM EDT


Photos/Videos: Donna Eckert, Lennie Malmgren & Rachel Macauley

By: Marc Narducci 

PHILADELPHIA – Nobody should put too much stock in one game, but on Saturday night, it’s fair to say that a potential (likely?) Philadelphia Catholic League girls’ soccer championship preview took place and at the least, both sides admitted this game had a playoff atmosphere.

Originally scheduled for last Thursday but postponed due to inclement weather to Saturday night, Archbishop Wood visited Archbishop Ryan and both teams displayed why they are considered the Catholic League front-runners.

Final Score – Wood 1, Ryan 1.

It was 100 minutes of high intensity soccer between two teams that are expected to meet again in the PCL playoffs. 

This was the only regular season game between the two and the packed crowd was treated to soccer at its best.

“It was exactly what we expected,” said Wood coach Tom DeGeorge. “Anytime you go to Ryan, it is a very physical game, a great atmosphere and always tons of people there.”

This was the type of game that people without a rooting interest attended, just to see such a high caliber of soccer being played.

“Everybody wanted to be there,” Ryan coach Scarlett Walsh said. "It was such a huge game and the pressure really mounts between our two teams.”

Wood vs. Ryan Game Highlights by Donna Eckert:

Archbishop Wood senior Madison Kennedy opened the scoring. After receiving a corner kick, Wood sophomore Ava DeGeorge controlled the ball, beat a defender and found Kennedy, who hit the ball in off her body for the score.

Archbishop Ryan put immediate pressure in the second half.

“The girls handled it well,” Walsh said about being down at the half. “We came out storming in the second half, the players adjusted.”

That pressure paid off. In the first 10 minutes, Ryan got the equalizer. Junior midfielder Chelsea Ritter, among the most creative players in the PCL, shot from just outside the 18 and connected in the bottom far post.

From that point on, the two teams battled back and forth.

“It was survival of the fittest game at the end, and ended kind of the way it should be,” DeGeorge said.

Two players who stood out defensively for Archbishop Wood, according to DeGeorge, were center backs Daryn Savage and Giulia Nevrotski.

As for Ryan, Ritter has her usual standout game.

According to Walsh, senior Kerri Gontz had a strong game at outside back and keeper Alana Verello made some big saves.

For both teams it is a good gauge for where they stand and a true measuring stick for what lies ahead when they will almost undoubtedly meet again.

“It was nice to see how we match up with each other,” Walsh said.

Added DeGeorge: “It was a championship atmosphere, big crowd, intense game and a good experience early on to see where you are girls are.”

Where both teams are is likely headed to a rematch, which would be even more highly anticipated than this regular season showdown.

Here are the other key games from last week…

Friday Sept. 24

Conwell Egan 4, Little Flower 0

Showing great balance, four different players scored for the winners. The goal scorers were Lilana Dias, Grace Neidert, Margaret Walker and Gianna Vorgity.

Monday Sept. 27

Lansdale Catholic 1, Little Flower 0

Delaney King converted a cross from Megan Steinbach in the first half for the game’s lone goal. It was another strong defensive effort for the Crusaders, led by Casey Sabollsky, who joined the back line in helping shut down the Little Flower attack.

“I’m proud of the girls for coming out and finding a way to get a result,” Lansdale Catholic coach Bree Benedict said. “Our defense has come up big in recent games defending tight score lines late in matches. Olivia BoccellaKate NorburyBella WackMia NorburyAva Mercier, and goalkeeper Cassidy Saulinhave provided our team with a defensive attitude and stability.”

While the Crusaders had several chances, Little Flower was kept in the game by outstanding goalkeeping from sophomore Jocelyn Shuster.

“The Little Flower goalkeeper was lights out with many point blank saves including an incredible kicks save in the first half on a breakaway,” Benedict said. “Credit her for a great performance.”

Archbishop Ryan 3, Archbishop Carroll 0

Gianna Rivera gave Ryan a major spark by scoring the first two goals. Maddy Camillo scored on a header off a corner kick for the third goal.

Cardinal O’Hara 2, Conwell-Egan 0

After a scoreless first half in this game at Conwell-Egan, Cardinal O’Hara scored two second half goals by Hope Scolis and Carly Coleman to give the Lions their first Catholic League win. Natalia Capaccio recorded three saves to earn the shutout, while Egan keeper Jessica Gentile had four saves.

Wednesday, Sept. 29

Archbishop Carroll 2, Conwell-Egan 0

Carroll received goals from Amanda Armstrong and Olivia Hoffman with assists by Ella Wright and Machael HenryBridget Robinson made four saves to earn the shutout.

"This was our most complete game of the year,” Carroll coach Tom Quintois said. “It was great for our seniors Amanda and Olivia to step and score big goals. Our defense was stellar led by Maura Kane and Julia Curran. Kudos the Egan players and coaches for a well played game."

Cardinal O’Hara goal by Hope Scolis vs. CEC - Video by Donna Eckert

Thursday, Sept. 30

Little Flower 4, Cardinal O’Hara 3

The game was tied 2-2 at the half, but visiting Little Flower won by scoring two of the three second half goals.

Four different players scored for the winners – Hayden Johnston, Rylee Sundermeier, Alexa Harr and Bella Torres, who had the game-winner.

For O’Hara, the goal scorers were Lauren Moore, Lekie McCarthy and Hope Scolis. Keeper Natalia Capaccio made 10 saves for the Lions.

Archbishop Ryan 2, Lansdale Catholic 0

Ryan kept rolling, but was tested to the limit by a resilient Lansdale Catholic team. The winners scored on a penalty kick by Chelsea Ritter and added another goal by Gianna Rivera, with an assist from Sierra DiDonato.

Despite the loss there were positives for Lansdale Catholic.

“The girls battled really hard and it was a great back and forth game,” Lansdale coach Bree Benedict said. “...Megan Steinbach and Nicole Mezzatesta were flying all over the field. Our goalkeeper Cassidy Saulino had her best game with a few point blank stops. Ava Mercier, Olivia Boccella, and Mia Norbury were all dominant in the central battles.”

Chelsea Ritter (#5) and Kaitlyn Brace (#27) talk about the keys to the Ragdoll’s victory vs. LC - Video by Rachel Macauley

Ryan head coach Scarlett Walsh has her eyes set on a PCL crown and a prominent state playoff push with her team - video by Rachel Macauley:

St. Hubert's 10, Bonner-Prendie 0

Six different players scored for the winners, led by Gianna Grassifulli, who had four goals. Emma Drum scored twice while Keara Pizzaro, Alex McGonigle, Madison Marron and Gianna Anderson each had single goals.