by Tom Utescher
Host Springside Chestnut Hill Academy began to get some things clicking on offense in the second half of last Friday’s Girls Inter-Ac field hockey match, but by that time the visiting Penn Charter Quakers were well on the way to a 4-1 victory.
PC earned a 3-0 halftime lead in the contest, and added its fourth and final goal early in the second period before the Lions broke up the shutout with five minutes left to play. Sophomore Allie Billick, who saved SCH from a whitewash, appeared to score a few minutes earlier, as well, but the officials ruled that she had not touched the ball after it was driven into the circle by a teammate.
Both clubs were hoping to bounce back with a league victory after losing Inter-Ac encounters on Monday afternoon. The Lions’ very first appearance on their new artificial turf field turned out to be a baptism of fire, as visiting Agnes Irwin triumphed, 5-0. In another Monday match, Charter lost 3-0 on the road at Notre Dame, not that bad an outcome in light of the numbers the Irish have been putting up against many other opponents.
On Friday the Quakers took home a record of 6-3 overall and 2-2 in league play, while the Lions came away 3-6, 0-4.
After some back-and-forth action at the beginning of Friday’s bout in Chestnut Hill, SCH earned the first penalty corner of the afternoon, but the play was broken up high in the circle. PC quickly transitioned to offense and chalked up its first point with 3:43 elapsed, when Avery Shoemaker sent the ball close to the goalmouth to set up the goal by sophomore classmate Grace Harbison.
On some subsequent Penn Charter corners, SCH’s Billick proved to be an effective defensive flyer, helping freshman goalie Laura Lasprogada (seven saves) keep the cage sealed through a series of restarts for the Quakers. The host team also benefitted from the return of senior Cassie Dunne, who was playing in her first game after recuperating from a summertime ice hockey injury.
Eventually, though, the visitors logged their second goal when Katherine O’Donnell dribbled the ball down low towards the right post and crossed it to the left side, where fellow senior Katy Decker drove it home.
That marker came with 19:56 remaining in the first half, and just over six minutes later the count rose to 3-0 when Harbison harvested the rebound of a long drive by yet another Charter 10th-grader, Layne Wolfington. An SCH sophomore, Francesca Fabiani, entered the game and roused the crowd with a long, powerful shot from the left side, but the ball came back off the leg pads of the Quakers’ keeper, 10th-grader Kennedy Kline (five saves).
First-year Springside Chestnut Hill co-caoch Jenny Weir related that in the halftime huddle, “We told them to be more aggressive going to the ball. We were being too passive and sort of waiting for it to come to us, and the other team was beating us to the ball.”
It took until the middle of the second period for this advice to take effect. In the meantime, Penn Charter rounded out its total for the day with 18:49 left to play, when senior Anna Wills drove the ball inside and freshman Sophia Toso tipped it in to put the Quakers up 4-0.
Not long after that SCH earned a penalty corner at the other end and made an insertion to the top of the circle. Freshman Remi Filippini pounded the ball back towards the cage, but the shot was blocked and Charter cleared the ball out along the endline.
Lions senior Taylor Wrubel had transported the ball through the midfield a number of times during the game. Now, one of these forays took her down near the right edge of the circle as Billick made a run towards the left post. Wrubel drove the ball across towards that side of the goal and almost everyone saw Billick tap the ball into the cage.
The lead official wasn’t clear about what happened, though, and after a consultation with the trail official, who was on the other side of the midfield line during the play, it was ruled that the ball had not been touched inside the circle and there was no goal.
With 4:58 left to play, a Billick shot from almost the same spot resulted in an officially recognized goal for the 4-1 final score. A loss is a loss, but naturally the Lions and their fans would rather have seen a final margin of two points rather than three.
SCH senior Chelsea Richardson (a tri-captain along with Dunne and Wrubel] provides experience within the team’s defensive unit, but the Lions also have several young players in the back, with Lasprogata starting along with fellow freshman Mikaela Watson.
“We have some young players on the field, but they’ve got a lot of talent,” pointed out Megan Cipolloni, who is coaching the club along with Weir. “They’re working hard and picking things up very quickly.”