by Tom Utescher
In the 2011 meeting between familiar lacrosse rivals Germantown Friends and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, the GFS Tigers romped to a 10-3 halftime lead and continued on to lick the Lions, 16-6.
This year’s encounter was much more dramatic, but GFS again emerged on top. With four-and-a-half minutes left to play, Dartmouth-bound senior Annie Morrissey notched her fourth goal of the afternoon, giving the host Tigers a 9-8 edge than held up until the final horn.
Germantown (3-0 overall), received two goals from freshman Annie Tyson and single goals from seniors Isabella Didio and Iris Williamson (a Penn recruit) and sophomore Schuyler Nissen, along with six saves in goal from another tenth-grader, Dana Schulman.
Senior Libbie Maine scored a hat trick for the visitors, who got one goal apiece from senior Carly Schwartz, juniors Kitty Morrissey (Annie’s sister) and Taylor Wrubel, sophomore Winter Chernak, and freshman Francesca Fabiani. In goal, junior Shelby Jackson made five stops for the Lions, who suffered their first loss after a 5-0 start to the season.
“It’s disappointing, but my girls played so hard and just left everything out on the field,” said Lions coach Lydia Imperiale. “This was the toughest team we’ve played so far, and at least it was good to see that we could stay with them.”
SCH had done a lot of scoring against its other non-league opponents, but they weren’t of the same caliber as the Tigers. The schedule had included Hill School, normally a tough rival but one that is in rebuilding mode this year following the graduation of eight starters from 2011.
For GFS, a win over Baldwin School was the only contest prior to spring break, but a day before meeting Springside Chestnut Hill, the Tigers proved something to themselves by coming from five goals down to claim an 11-10 overtime victory against Archbishop Wood. Williamson’s fifth goal of the day was the game-winner for the resilient Tigers.
“It was a great game to get us started on the main part of our season,” noted veteran defender Alex Clarke. “It definitely gave us confidence.”
Against the normally high-scoring Lions, the senior said, “We were just trying to work together and double-team when possible to fluster them.”
SCH’s Imperiale remarked, “At times we couldn’t get our attack started. They really defended the eight [meter arc] and collapsed in tough on our drivers. They also did a great job of pressuring in the midfield.”
Clarke agreed, pointing out, “We have a lot of fast middies and attackers, and we all work to play good defense up and down the field. Then when we have possession, I think we take pretty good care of the ball; it’s been a strength for us this year.”
The Lions’ Maine (who will attend Princeton University) captured the initial draw and then got her team on the board in the opening minute, with classmate Ellie Stout assisting from behind the cage. The match was tied with 18:47 remaining in the first period, as the Tigers spread out to help clear the arc for a successful drive by Didio.
Annie Morrissey got going with the help of a feed from Williamson, then the Lions pulled even at 2-2 thanks to Schwartz.
Nissen moved the hosts ahead once more, and with 4:18 remaining in the period Williamson scored on a free position to make it 4-2. It was the only goal of the day for the senior star. She was being guarded by SCH freshman Sinead Brierley, with other defenders looking to double when required. Curiously, at times the Lions lost track of Morrissey, who was essentially unmarked on two of her four scoring sequences.
Still, SCH went into the halftime huddle only trailing 4-3, getting a free-position goal from Maine with 15 seconds left. The clock had been allowed to run down to 10 seconds on the play, and the Lions’ attempt to break downfield off the final draw was cut short.
On one of the neatest scoring plays of the day, GFS took a 5-3 lead early in the second half when Williamson passed the ball from the top of the arc into the stick of Tyson right at the crease. It was the first of two goals by the freshman in the second period.
“During our little team huddles,” she related, “Iris and Annie were saying that they were being covered really tight, so we knew that other people needed to contribute on offense and make it a real team effort.”
Tyson, who scored her first goal of the season in the Wood game, noted that the veteran GFS players have welcomed in the younger Tigers.
“It feels great to be a part of this team,” she said.
The Lions responded immediately, with Maine taking the draw, going down the left wing, and angling in to score. Next, the tying goal (5-5) was netted by Kitty Morrissey on a free position from the top of the arc. With 15:58 left in the contest, Chernak took a pass from Maine and scored from the left side of the eight-meter loop, completing a 3-0 run that gave SCH its first lead since the opening minute of the contest.
Over the next four minutes the Tigers responded in kind to gain an 8-6 advantage. Tyson started the three-goal sequence, bringing the ball down from midfield, drawing a foul, and converting the free position. Jackson, the SCH goalie, stopped the next Germantown shot, but Annie Morrissey dug out the rebound and put the ball in the net. The senior then came from behind the cage to deposit the eighth goal for the home team.
At the other end, Kitty Morrissey sent a pass inside from a few yards past the eight, and the ball appeared to deflect off the stick of Fabiani and into the net. With 9:41 on the clock, a three-second call against the GFS defense resulted in a free-position for the Lions’ Wrubel, who shot just inside the right post to tie the match at 8-8.
After SCH’s Jackson stopped a close-range shot by Annie Morrissey, the Lions went up on offense, but they too were unable to break the deadlock.
Soon, Germantown was on the attack once again and the elder Morrissey was fouled well outside the arc on the right side. She looped across into the middle, accelerated, and fired from near the top of the eight. The 9-8 final score was now on the board with 4:36 remaining. The Tigers had a chance to reinforce their lead, but Jackson made the save on an open shot by Didio.
GFS maintained possession and confidently passed the ball around on the offensive end, while the Lions pursued with a surprising lack of urgency. When SCH finally took the ball across midfield on the left wing with 40 seconds to go, the Tigers quickly double-teamed near the sideline and forced a turnover.
“This was our first loss and the girls don’t like how they feel right now, so that should put some fight into them for the start of the league,” Imperiale said. “It didn’t end the way we wanted, but I love this kind of low-scoring game where there’s great defense. It was one of those games where literally every possession counts.”