Egenlauf’s hat trick pushes Ragdolls to cusp of championship

The senior forward scored three goals in a 4-0 semifinal win over Lansdale Catholic.

Bri­ana Egen­lauf and the Ry­an Rag­dolls are one win away from re­peat­ing as Cath­ol­ic League cham­pi­ons. Egen­lauf scored a hat trick in Thursday night’s 4-0 semi­finals win over Lans­dale Cath­ol­ic. ED MOR­RONE / TIMES PHOTO

As a seni­or on the highly-suc­cess­ful Arch­bish­op Ry­an girls soc­cer team that’s lost just one reg­u­lar sea­son game in the last two years, Bri­ana Egen­lauf doesn’t have much left to check off her buck­et list be­fore gradu­ation.

She won a Cath­ol­ic League cham­pi­on­ship in 2012 and is on the door­step of an­oth­er. Egen­lauf can also check ‘play­off hat trick’ off after tal­ly­ing three of Ry­an’s four goals in Thursday night’s semi­finals 4-0 win over Lans­dale Cath­ol­ic.

One of the few press­ing is­sues still left to take care of is knock­ing off Arch­bish­op Wood, a team that has be­come a pesky foil and nemes­is to the Rag­dolls. In Egen­lauf’s four years, the soc­cer team has nev­er beaten Wood, and the Vik­ings are the afore­men­tioned one team to van­quish Ry­an (not count­ing a state play­off loss to Cent­ral Bucks West last Novem­ber) in the past two sea­sons, a 1-0 loss back on Sept. 5.

Now, Egen­lauf and the Rag­dolls will have an­oth­er shot at Wood on the grand­est of stages, as the two rivals will meet in Sunday’s Cath­ol­ic League cham­pi­on­ship game at Ry­an (tent­at­ively sched­uled for 2 p.m.). The Vik­ings nipped Little Flower, 1-0, in Thursday’s oth­er semi­final con­test.

“They’re the biggest rival for this team,” Egen­lauf said fol­low­ing the vic­tory over Lans­dale Cath­ol­ic. “I’ve nev­er beaten them in my four years here. To be able to beat them for an­oth­er cham­pi­on­ship in my seni­or year, that would be a huge ac­com­plish­ment, and this team has the abil­ity to do it.”

And what’s the secret, if any, to beat­ing a team that has had Ry­an’s num­ber for so long?

“We just have to work hard and play how we played to­night,” said Egen­lauf, whose team has won 18 in a row since the loss to Wood. “We have to be ready to come out strong, and I think we will.”

The Rag­dolls cer­tainly came out strong against Lans­dale, as they are prone to do, usu­ally strik­ing their op­pon­ent early be­fore smoth­er­ing them with stingy de­fense the rest of the way. Egen­lauf got her first tally of Thursday night not even sev­en minutes in­to the first half off a pristine cross from sopho­more mid­field­er Taylor Woods. Roughly 20 minutes later, the Woods-to-Egen­lauf combo struck again, this time on a pretty through ball that gave Ry­an an all but in­sur­mount­able 2-0 lead at half­time. Woods scored the third goal of the con­test early in the second half on a head ball off a Ca­sey Rodgers corner kick be­fore Egen­lauf wrapped up her hat trick in the wan­ing mo­ments of the game.

Egen­lauf is one of just four seni­ors on the Ry­an roster, a stun­ner for a team that has dom­in­ated its league so thor­oughly. Sopho­mores such as Woods, for­ward Ju­les Blank, Rodgers and de­fend­er Tayah Nau­dascher, as well as ju­ni­ors Jazmin Gonza­lez (who notched yet an­oth­er shutout in goal over Lans­dale) and sweep­er Kaitlyn Mc­Fad­den, who an­chors a pun­ish­ing back line that al­ways seems per­fectly in sync.

Egen­lauf said it’s been an easy group to ment­or, as the ma­ture young­sters know what’s ex­pec­ted of them and what it takes to win in such a chal­len­ging league.

“They are hard work­ers and they love the game,” Egen­lauf said of her young­er team­mates. “They un­der­stand what it takes to be suc­cess­ful. I know I can al­ways count on them. Be­ing a seni­or on this team has been pretty great. Every­one knows what type of at­mo­sphere to ex­pect, and how to handle the pres­sure that comes with it.”

The Rag­dolls have main­tained for close to two months that the reg­u­lar sea­son loss to Wood was an ab­er­ra­tion, the byproduct of a young team still fig­ur­ing out its iden­tity. Now on a team full of in­ter­change­able parts, each and every Ry­an play­er knows her role, which has been bad news for the op­pos­i­tion ever since the Rag­dolls trudged off the field fol­low­ing their lone de­feat to Wood.

And it’s no secret that Egen­lauf and her team­mates are out for re­venge. The loss has been on their minds all sea­son, and they’re ready for pay­back.

“We def­in­itely want re­venge,” she said. “I think we just have to play con­fid­ent. They’re a very good team, but so are we. We’ll be ready to play our game, and we’re not scared.”

The Rag­dolls would like to wrap up head coach Ry­an Haney’s fourth league cham­pi­on­ship in nine sea­sons and head in­to the state play­offs, where they hope to cre­ate more noise in 2013 than they did the year pri­or, los­ing in the first round to C.B. West.

Whenev­er the ride ends, Egen­lauf will be forever grate­ful for her time at Ry­an, as she and her team­mates have brought sus­tained ex­cel­lence to a school that has seen plenty of soc­cer ac­com­plish­ments over the dec­ades.

“It’s been the best time of my life,” she said. “It’s sad know­ing it has to come to an end. Play­ing soc­cer for Ry­an has been the best time of my life so far. I loved be­ing here every day, and I wouldn’t change it for any­thing.”

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