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Lady Indians Soccer Relying on Experience to Overcome Key Injury
Written by Bradley Schlegel Staff Reporter
2016-09-14

Upper Perkiomen junior midfielder Jessie Fisher steals the ball from a Pottsgrove player headed for the goal in Friday's PAC-10 game at Upper Perk.

                Hannah Leight's injury, 12 minutes into the season, has forced Upper Perkiomen girls head soccer coach Mike Freed to recalculate his approach.

                Without Leight, a junior striker, the Indians rallied to beat Palisades in their season opener on Sept. 2. Kenzie Gebhardt scored three goals, including the game winner midway through the second half, to left them to a 3-2 victory.

                Freed described Leight as key offensive player with a lot of speed "that scares defenders."

                In the interim, they have leaned on their midfielders – including Gebhart, a senior, and juniors Jessie Fisher and Kayleigh Durning – to carry them to an early 2-2-1 record through five games.

                "Our strength is in our midfield," the coach said.

                Gebhardt leads the team with five goals. Fisher has scored twice and Durning has added one goal. Taylor Kearney, their classmate, has provided a relentless work rate on the flanks, according to Freed.

                Since Leight's availability is unknown, the coach is prepared to move forward with a reconfigured lineup. "We're trying to find the right mix," Freed said.

                Meanwhile, Upper Perkiomen will rely on experience to compete in the Pioneer Athletic Conference. Led by Gebardt, a senior midfielder and returning first-team all-league selection, the team returns nine letter winners, including seven juniors with at least two years of varsity experience.

                The defense will be anchored by seniors Megan Wismer, a third-year player and a captain, as well as classmates Teresa Swartley, Lauren Weeks and goalkeeper Rachel Morelli.

                "The kids understand injuries are part of the game," Freed said. "They know they have to move on. There are still games to win."

                The coach said he doesn't expect the setbacks to prevent the team from reaching its goals, winning as many games as possible and putting itself in position to qualify for the league and District 1 Class AAA playoffs.

                Freed described the possibility of earning one of 12 district playoff berths more realistic. However, the coach added that he expects the Frontier Division standings to be bunched.

                "Everyone in the division is surely going to take some hits," he said.

                On Tuesday, Sept. 6, the Indians rallied to salvage a 1-1 tie in a non-league game against Kutztown. Gebhart scored off an assist from Hannah Ang to erase a 1-0 deficit. Hannah Landis, a freshman goalie, collected four saves for the team, which held an 8-5 shot advantage.

                According to Freed, Landis has shown great poise and composure filling in for Morelli, who is recovering from an injury she suffered during the off season. The coach said Morelli is working her way back into fitness and should be available soon.

                "While we've done a good job of limiting shots on, our Hannah has come up with some big saves when we've needed them," the coach said. 


 

 

 

 

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