Bucks County Herald

Upper Dublin nips Panthers

MAX RETTIG

Heading into last Wednesday’s match, the Quakertown Panthers and Upper Dublin Cardinals were locked in a two-horse race for the Suburban One League (SOL) American Conference title, with the Cardinals nursing a one-game edge.

After a 2-1 Upper Dublin victory at Alumni Field in Quakertown, the Panthers (10-5, 8-3 SOL American) now find themselves wedged in second place. And head coach Mike Koch has turned his attention to the postseason rather than the conference championship.

“I think that our focus shifts more toward district playoffs at this point. I don’t think Upper Dublin’s going to lose two games, so I think the league title is out of [reach],” Koch said. “And they’re a good team; they deserve it. We battled to the end again last year and we came out on top, and this year, they beat us twice, 2-1, and they deserve the league title, and I think that we need to refocus our goals on district playoffs at this point.”

Last Wednesday’s contest unfolded as a defensive battle in the first half. Neither team could capitalize on a number of opportunities – not to mention, Quakertown senior Morgan Small and her counterpart, Devon Jones, were staunch in goal. The second half began much the same way for the Panthers, whose inability to finish shots sealed their fate.

Even from her position in the midfield, sophomore Sam Barkholz felt some responsibility for missed chances.

“I got to keep trying. [If] I see the ball and I mess up, I know I have to make it better,” Barkholz said. “I got to keep going. There’s going to be chances, and we’re going to miss some, but we got to keep going. It’s got to go in eventually, right?”

“Finishing is composure. That’s what it’s all about, and it’s one of the hardest things to do in soccer. We work on it a lot, but it’s difficult, it’s frustrating,” Koch said.

Junior forward Ashley Gluck, who scored Quakertown’s lone goal off an assist from sophomore defender Brenna Foster with 4:32 left, is one of the Panthers’ top scorers.

“It’s really hard to be a forward; it’s one of the hardest things in soccer, I feel, to be a goal-scorer and a forward,” Koch added. “Ashley, who scored our goal – I think that’s her ninth goal this year – and one of the things that makes her a really good forward is she doesn’t let the misses stick in her head.”

Before Gluck’s goal, the Cardinals had already scored twice: first on a missile off the leg of junior Christina Haig at the 8:59 mark and again on a short kick in front of the net by junior Emily Booth, who was assisted by sophomore Julia Eustace with just over seven minutes remaining.

“My biggest aspiration for the team is just for them to show up and compete,” senior forward Katie Moyer said. “I think our biggest issue is consistency from the first to the second half, and if we were to push through that, we can do anything we want and go as far as we could.”

Koch expects that Gluck, as well as juniors Haley Pursel and Kyra Handel, will step into leadership roles as seniors next season. The current club is short on seniors, with only five, meaning that a significant core of the team will stick around for next season and beyond.

“They do a lot of good leadership now; they help our seniors a lot right now,” Koch said.

“I think we’re a really good team, I think we’re very driven and I just think that if we keep working harder and touching up on our mistakes – because there’s always stuff to work on – we can do anything,” Moyer said.

Quakertown came in 19th in the latest power rankings for the District One Class AAAA tournament. The top 24 get in.

“We wanted to win a [conference] title,” Koch said.

“Winning it last year gives you a taste of it, and you want it some more,” the Panthers’ skipper continued. “But it wasn’t meant to be for us, so now we do need to refocus. And I believe my players are mature enough and focused enough that they’ll be able to look at the next goal and work toward the next goal.”

Tweet



www.buckscountyherald.com

Copyright ©2017 Bucks County Herald, Inc. All rights reserved.