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Pennridge girls’ soccer team opens PIAA state playoffs with convincing win over Central

Leah Malone and Liv Lowery had two goals apiece for Pennridge.

The Pennridge girls' soccer team beat Central, 8-0, in the first round of the PIAA Class 4A playoffs on Tuesday.
The Pennridge girls' soccer team beat Central, 8-0, in the first round of the PIAA Class 4A playoffs on Tuesday.Read moreMike Owens

After an early exit in the District 1 playoffs a year ago, Pennridge came into the 2018 girls' soccer season with unfinished business.

The senior-led Rams poured in six first-half goals en route to an 8-0 win over District 12 champion Central in the first round of the PIAA Class 4A playoffs on a rainy Tuesday night at Northeast High School.

"I think it was huge to have our seniors lead us on the field," said Pennridge head coach Audrey Anderson. "I know this team really, really well. I've seen these girls come through the process of club and into the high school."

Freshman Leah Malone and sophomore Liv Lowery had two goals apiece for the Rams (19-3-1), who beat Penncrest in the District 1 third-pace game. Leading scorer Abby Groff, Lauren McIntyre, Brielle Tasher, and Chance Hendricks also scored.

Pennridge's senior class is looking to go out on top after getting a taste of states in 2016, when it lost in the quarterfinals. The Rams returned nine of 11 starters from 2017, a season that abruptly ended with a loss to No. 17 seed Quakertown in districts.

Coming into this season, Anderson's message to the team was that it have some "unfinished business" to attend to. The roster consists of eight seniors.

"This win means a lot to us," Groff said. "Losing in districts last year and not making it to states was a huge upset. So making it through districts and all the way to states is a huge accomplishment. At this point, we've made it so far that we just want to keep winning."

Pennridge, which claimed its third straight Suburban One League Continental title this year, will play Parkland on Saturday. Parkland took down Downingtown East, 2-0.

McIntyre, who plays several positions, set the tone minutes into the game with a header off a corner kick. After Groff found the back of the net, Malone scored back-to-back goals to make it 4-0. Hendricks and Tasher added insurance goals before the half.

"It's pretty special scoring two goals in states as a freshman," said Malone, who praised the leadership of the seniors.

Pennridge, which dominated the pace of play, rotated a lot of players in and out in the second half. Lowery got behind the defense to score her two goals.

"I'm really excited moving forward because we've worked really hard to reach this point," said Lowery. "I haven't spent a lot of time with varsity, but the time I have spent has helped me get better as a player."

Despite a tough loss, the Lancers held their heads high. Central defeated Franklin Towne Charter in the Public League title game, then outlasted  Cardinal O'Hara in overtime for the District 12 crown. The Lancers won their third straight Public League championship and won the District 12 title for the second time in three years.

Central was led this season by goalkeeper Eden McLendon, Ola Owodunni, Lauren Irvine, Mabel Moosbrugger, and Zoe Moosbrugger, who scored the game-winner in the District 12 championship.

The Lancers also lost in the first round of states in 2016.