Neshaminy captures PIAA title
HERSHEY, Pa. - They told Rachel Clemens so. Megan Schafer and the rest of the Neshaminy girls' soccer players informed their coach back in August that they wanted to go undefeated this season. Schafer remembers the reaction on Clemens' face, the look emphasizing how hard that goal was to achieve.
HERSHEY, Pa. - They told Rachel Clemens so.
Megan Schafer and the rest of the Neshaminy girls' soccer players informed their coach back in August that they wanted to go undefeated this season. Schafer remembers the reaction on Clemens' face, the look emphasizing how hard that goal was to achieve.
Saturday, when the Redskins capped their season of perfection with a 2-1 overtime victory over gritty Spring-Ford in the PIAA state Class AAA final at Hersheypark Stadium, Clemens was rendered practically speechless.
"I don't even know what to say," Clemens said. "It's unbelievable."
For Neshaminy (25-0), it took a lot of jog sprints, some serious conditioning, to get to the state final.
In fact, after telling Clemens about the goal to go unbeaten, Schafer said, she recalled the coach's telling the Redskins that it was possible, that they just had to put in the work.
So the Redskins did more jog sprints.
All that conditioning came in handy against the Rams (23-3-1), especially for junior midfielder Amy Mandia.
Mandia's long, far-post run four minutes into the first overtime period proved to be the final run of the contest for either side.
"They were so tired," Mandia said of her legs. "It was crazy. But you have to find that little bit left in you in the last couple minutes to do it."
Schafer took on a couple of Rams defenders before passing the ball to Gabby Farrell, who sent a great ball on to the streaking Mandia.
All Mandia had to do was put it in the back of the net, and she did.
Schafer had a front-row seat for Mandia's game-winner.
"I couldn't have been happier," said Schafer, a Penn State recruit. "All I thought was, is this really happening? Did we just win? It was just awesome."
The Rams battled all game, fighting to find the equalizer after an early Neshaminy goal. They did it mostly without star senior forward Megan Giannopoulos, who went down during the first half with a serious ankle injury.
When sophomore Gabrielle Vagnozzi got hurt later in the game, it looked as if the Spring-Ford attack would be stunted.
Instead, the Rams stepped up to the challenge, proving to be especially dangerous on corner kicks.
Senior goalie McKenna Mullin isn't exactly sure when the Redskins realized that the goal of going undefeated was within reach.
"It came to the point where playoffs started and it was now or never," Mullin said. "It was either the perfect season, or we end with a loss."
Neshaminy didn't lose.
Spring-Ford 0 1 0 – 1
Neshaminy 1 0 1 – 2
Goals: SF-Sammy Stipa; N-Megan Schafer, Amy Mandia.
Saves: SF-Jenna Griggs 9; N-McKenna Mullin 4.