by Tom Utescher
Mount senior tri-captain Kelly Moran (left) goes up for a head ball along with Nazareth’s Roe Capuano. (Photo by Tom Utescher)
On the one truly sunny day last week the outcome of a league soccer match was just as cheery for Mount St. Joseph Academy. A burst of offense put the Magic up 2-0 19 minutes into Monday’s game and then carried visiting MSJ on to its first victory of the season, a 4-1 decision over host Nazareth Academy.
Rain at the end of August had washed out several scheduled scrimmages for the Mount (1-4) just as new head coach Catherine Kulp was settling in with the Magic. Launching right into the game schedule, they tied Upper Perkiomen but then suffered losses to Catholic Academies opponents Gwynedd Mercy and Villa Joseph Marie, as well as enduring non-league setbacks against Germantown Academy and Council Rock North.
“We’ve just been trying to take it one game at a time,” said senior forward Ashley DePaul, a graduate of Norwood Fontbonne Academy and a 2011 tri-captain for Mount St. Joe’s along with classmates Brittany McDermott and Kelly Moran.
In the Nazareth game, she said, “We wanted to attack, attack, attack, because we hadn’t scored more than one goal per game before today. We wanted to score early and then not let up.”
The Mount looked aggressive and confident from the outset, taking a lead it would never lose when junior Lisa Roman assisted a goal by freshman Devon Conway nine minutes into the action. About 10 minutes later an unassisted strike by Moran gave the Magic a 2-0 lead that held up until halftime.
The Magic’s offense-oriented play also served to take pressure off of former JV goalie Meghan Keown (three saves), who was making her second start after senior keeper Becca McCool sprained her left ankle in a collision during the Villa Joe contest.
One of the Mount’s most seasoned players, Alexa Carboni, was a steady presence at back against Nazareth, and fellow seniors Bridget Higgins and Jules Kitka helped the Magic move the ball down the wings.
The host Pandas would also wind up with an understudy in the goal cage. Starter Gina Pallanta retired with four saves after hurting a hamstring, and was replaced by Ashley Hunter (one save).
Just six minutes into the second half, the count rose to 3-0 when DePaul deposited a strong shot from the left side of the box.
“We’ve worked on our finishing,” she said. “We’ve been practicing our corners, and we’re also trying to take the ball down near the corner and then cross it towards the goal. Today we did a lot of things we worked on in practice, and I think this win should improve our morale.”
Five minutes after DePaul’s goal, Nazareth almost broke the shutout when a slow-rolling ball got behind Keown, but it wandered wide of the left post. When the Mount came back down the field, a long ball fired by Roman gonged off the crossbar and Moran nearly scored on a follow-up shot.
The Magic notched their fourth goal in the middle of the period, when freshman Maryanna Solecki took a few dribbles through the middle of the box and let loose a shot. Nazareth finally got on the board with around a dozen minutes left to play, as Nikki Pyle drew out Keown and then put a shot past her.