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Joyce twins looking forward to future at Ryan

Twin sisters Grace and Emma Joyce will always have each other’s backs — especially on the soccer field.

Grace (left) and Emma Joyce had a huge hand in helping Archbishop Ryan advance to the Catholic League girls soccer championship game and win 10 games during league play. JOE MASON / TIMES PHOTO
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Grace Joyce always knows her twin sister Emma has her back.

And Emma always knows Grace will be there to defend her.

Especially on the soccer field.

Grace is a senior defender on the Archbishop Ryan High School soccer team and her twin sister Emma is the goalie on the team. The two have been playing soccer together for as long as they can remember and they’ve always been right next to each other on the field. When one needs help, the other is right there.

“I love having her in front of me because I know I can always trust her,” Emma said. “She’s very good. She’s been playing defense in front of me forever. She’s always been there and she’s a very good player.”

The trust is mutual.

“She’s a great goalie,” Grace said. “She’s been playing great all year.”

Together, the duo helped the Ragdolls have a great season, and although it didn’t go as far as they would have liked, there’s reason to be optimistic about the future.

Ryan, which finished atop the Catholic League standings during the regular season at 10–1, lost in overtime to Lansdale Catholic 1–0 in the Catholic League championship at Northeast High School on Sunday afternoon.

The Ragdolls had their chances, the best coming with under two minutes to go in regulation, but a shot clanged off the crossbar and didn’t go in.

The Crusaders got a chance midway through the first overtime period and netted the goal that ended the game.

“This was the one we really wanted,” Grace said. “The Catholic League is the big one, it’s the one everybody wants to win.”

That’s true, but the Ragdolls still have a lot to be proud of and a lot to still shoot for.

Ryan won the Catholic League championship last year, and coming into the season had won five of the past six PCL crowns. The Ragdolls now move on to the state playoffs, where they will compete in the Class 3A division. A long run would help ease the pain of falling in the PCL championship game. The journey begins Wednesday when Ryan meets Rush at Northeast.

But there’s another reason the Ragdolls should be optimistic about their future.

This year’s team had just three seniors, and while they meant a lot to the team’s success, there will be a lot of players back next year.

“You like to see a young team like this go this far, and hopefully losing a game like this will let them know that winning is hard,” said Ryan coach Jon Geist, who was an assistant on the four teams that won Catholic League championships before taking over the program prior to the 2016 season.

“We have a lot of girls coming back, and we have a lot of freshmen who are very good soccer players. We have the potential to be very good, but you always want to win the (Catholic League) championship.”

The players feel the same way as their coach.

With so many returning players, the Ragdolls could be a real obstacle for opposing teams in the years to come. And the twins will continue to work hard to make sure Ryan remains an elite team.

“We have good leaders, the seniors and juniors have been very good,” Grace said. “We’ve learned a lot this year.”

“Last year, we played together (on junior varsity) and we knew we’d have a chance to play this year if we worked hard,” Emma said. “We all worked really hard to get here. We had good seniors, and the younger players tried to learn and get better. It’s different playing varsity, so you have to play better.”

The Joyces hope soccer season continues for a while, but once the season is finished, they won’t have much time to relax. They’re also teammates on the Ryan basketball team, where Emma is a power forward and Grace is a shooting guard.

Last summer, the girls would hustle from their soccer summer league to play with their Ragdoll teammates in the basketball league.

Soccer is their main passion, but they are hoping to have a productive winter season, too.

“We’ve been playing that forever, too,” Emma said. “Our mom and dad make sure we get everywhere we need to go. They’re really supportive.”

In fact, whenever they’re at home, they’re usually talking sports with dad.

“Me, my dad and my sister are always talking about the games,” Emma said.

There’s a good chance they’ll have a lot to talk about in the upcoming seasons.

With the returning players, Ryan is poised to return to the championship game again and again.

“A lot can happen, but this was a good year,” Geist said. “You don’t want to lose (in the championship), but it was a good year and it’s not over.”

“I think we can be really good,” Emma said. “We had a really good year. We’ll miss the seniors, but we have good players who are juniors and sophomores and freshmen. They’ll help us next year and after that.”

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