NEWTOWN — Upper Perkiomen ran into a simply superior defensive team — as good as it had seen all season — in Monday night's District 1-AA girls soccer semifinal. Not only did the Indians fail to score against top-seeded Villa Joseph Marie, but their trips down into the Jems' end of the field were few and far between in a season-ending 2-0 loss at Council Rock North's Walt Snyder Stadium.
Kristen Glaum scored in the first half and Katie Bell in the second half for two-time defending district champion Villa Joe (14-2). Maggie Ortlip played an outstanding match in goal for the fourth-seeded Indians (14-7), who set or tied several team records during their excellent season.
"They're so good,' Upper Perk coach Mike Freed said concerning the winners. "They're as good as anyone we've played this year. And that's no offense to Spring-Ford, Boyertown, or Pennridge.'
The defense was so good that the Indians did not put a shot on the frame the entire night while the Jems put nine on target, along with several near misses. Upper Perkiomen's best chance to score came midway through the first half when Kayla Smith took the ball away from the defense near the top of the box and got off a shot that rolled wide left of the goal.
The Jems — 4-1 winners over Pope John Paul II in the opening round — scored in the 34th minute when Taylor Stevens crossed a ball from the left out in front to Glaum, who bounced off a defender and spun and knocked the ball past Ortlip.
"I knew once she crossed it, I had to do my best to go after it,' said Glaum.
That came after Ortlip had made a couple of big stops, one on a run to her left to knock the ball away from the right corner and another on a corner kick that came right out in front.
Villa Joseph Marie had a couple of good opportunities early in the second half, but Indian defender Aubrey Gibbs blocked a shot at an open net after Ortlip had come out to break up a play. Then Ortlip made a save on a point-blank shot on a rebound off the crossbar.
The other score came in the 66th minute on a free kick from 25 yards out by Bell that found the left corner.
Other than that, Villa had good chances throughout the night, thanks to an 11-0 advantage in corner kicks.
"She had some good saves,' Glaum said concerning the Indians' senior keeper. "We just had to work it around and play as a team. And once we got it wide, take advantage of our opportunities.'
As far as the defensive strategy of the Jems, they just didn't want to allow the Indians to get off shots.
"We just knew we couldn't let them shoot,' said Glaum. "We had to keep it off the top.'
They also paid special attention to senior midfielder Smith, who had scored twice in a 4-0 win over Marple Newtown in the opening round last Wednesday."We knew she was really good,' Glaum added. "We had to keep her off the ball.'
Villa advances to Wednesday's championship contest back at CR North that will determine the district's only entry in the PIAA-AA Tournament against Phoenixville, a 3-2 winner over Gwynedd Mercy.
The Indians, who were playing in a district semifinal for the first time ever, finished the season tied for the most overall wins in team history after setting a new high for regular season victories.
"There were a lot of positives to our whole season,' said Freed. "Credit to their defense. In 21 matches, it's only the third time we've been shut out this season. The other two times were by Spring-Ford.
"Defensively, I think we played about as well as we could. I think Maggie had a brilliant game in goal. We just had no time on the ball.'