John Knebels
Special to The CS&T

BENSALEM – All year long, Villa Joseph Marie deep down felt that it was the best team in the rugged Catholic Academies League.

Then again, the Jems felt that way last year, too, but it didn’t prevent them from losing to Villa Maria Academy in the championship.

On Friday night at the United German Hungarian Club, VJM made certain that there would be no sour stomach to deal with as it avenged last year’s defeat and emerged with a 2-1 CAL title.

“This feels so good,” said Villa Jo senior Lindsey King. “We wanted this game a lot. We knew that Villa was going to give us everything they had. We needed to stay confident in our abilities.”

The Jems’ task to snare away the league trophy was in jeopardy when a Julie Mongan blast gave Villa Maria a 1-0 lead only nine minutes into the game. But before they got too far behind, King tied the contest at the 13-minute mark and then teammate Becky Pfender scored one minute later to give Villa Jo a 2-1 edge.

Despite the early scoring barrage, neither team was able to capitalize on its remaining offensive chances. A never-say-die opponent, Villa Maria ended up with a surprising 13-9 shot advantage, and Villa Jo’s Danielle Fiorelli was required to make six saves.

After winning the regular-season title rather easily, some may have figured that with a 16-1-1 overall record, Villa Jo would have had a less-difficult time dismantling the 12-6-2 Hurricanes.

But not the Jems.

“They’re always tough,” said King. “Every game is a battle. That’s the way it is with rivalries.”

Despite several injuries to key players, Villa Jo will be favored to win districts after receiving a well-deserved first-round bye. It’s very possible that VJM will again meet Villa later this season in the PIAA.

“If we play, I’m sure it will be a good game,” said King.

She was obviously speaking from experience.

John Knebels can be reached at