Pennridge boys, girls improving
Pennridge’s reward for making program history in 2012?
A date with three of Pennsylvania’s best, Cumberland Valley, Governor Mifflin and Wilson, all members of the state’s Central Conference, to open 2013.
“We wanted to throw a lot of heavy level competition at them to see how they would react and see how they’re doing,” Rams head girls’ water polo coach Ryan Griffiths said. “Last year’s team was the first, boys or girls, for Pennridge to make it to the state tournament (the Rams placed eighth). We wanted them to keep that focus and keep in mind that’s the same goal this year.”
Pennridge dropped all three matches on Aug. 31 to the Central Conference’s elite, but the Rams have rallied to defeat three Eastern Conference foes, Springfield, Upper Merion and Wissahickon, to improve to 3-3 (3-5 overall).
“We’re really senior and junior heavy this year,” Griffiths said.
Pennridge just doesn’t have a ton of experience, moving forward without, among others, Morgan Allison and Julia Nadovich, both of whom are playing college water polo; Chelsea Weiss; Victoria Redmond; and Michelle Blanca from last season’s team.
“We lost almost our entire starting line,” Griffiths said.
Standout Maggie Walker, who leads the squad with 10 goals scored through Friday, has returned, though, and is a captain alongside senior classmate Jackie Cios, who remains out with a broken foot. Others to watch, Griffiths said, are: seniors Kayla Muerrda and Jess Gross, juniors Hnyla Sloan and Brittany Savercool, sophomore Kacie Cios, and freshman Claire Beno. Junior Kasey Walker and sophomore Madison Trauger are sharing time in goal for the Rams.
“The girls are capable of getting back to where they were last year; however, the question is, can the inexperience come together and [will the girls] be able to [put it together] at the right time?” Griffiths wondered.
The Rams are scheduled to travel to North Penn on Thursday, Sept. 19. Pennridge will host four straight matches in East Rockhill between Sept. 24 and Oct. 1.
The Pennridge boys were handed the same schedule to start the season as the Ram girls, and head coach Ken Vincent’s club posted an identical 0-3 mark against Cumberland Valley, Governor Mifflin and Wilson on Aug. 31.
“They’ve had a mixed season so far,” Vincent reported Friday afternoon on his 3-4 team. “Against some of the better teams in the state, we have struggled.”
Pennridge’s early season difficulties aren’t unexpected, however. The Rams were decimated by graduation and Vincent doesn’t have a senior on his roster.
“The boys’ team is in a growth season, where we are rebuilding and growing,” Vincent continued. “We lost five of our seven starters and three of them are playing college water polo. Those are significant swimming shoes to fill.”
Pennridge was 18-5 a year ago in the PIAA.
The Rams do return two starters from 2012: junior DJ Maurone and sophomore Nick Spehar, both of whom have been named captains. Junior Colin Russell and sophomore Callum Malcolm are also expected to step up with, among others, sophomores Jake Dearborn and Reilly Dolan and freshmen Jake Aigeldinger and Jamie Savage. Aigeldinger is one of Vincent’s goalies.
“The boys’ team is made up of a lot of just excited, really enthusiastic freshmen, sophomores and the juniors are the leaders,” said Vincent, who is in his third year as head coach for Pennridge. “So as the season’s progressing, the team is coming together more and more.”
The Ram boys will face off against the Knights at North Penn on Thursday, before heading home to take on Muhlenberg (Sept. 24) and Souderton (Sept. 25).
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