by Tom Utescher
The girls soccer roller coaster ride continued for Springside Chestnut Hill Academy last week. In home games on consecutive afternoons the Lions recorded a 5-2 Girls Inter-Ac victory over the Academy of Notre Dame and then a 2-1 loss to a team that was previously winless in the league, Baldwin School.
Tuesday’s victory against Notre Dame was SCH’s second win of the season over the Irish, and it looked like the Lions were starting to put at least some league rivals behind them. However, on Wednesday a Baldwin team that had lost to Notre Dame by a 7-2 count five days earlier rallied from an early deficit to defeat Springside Chestnut Hill, which dropped back down amongst the teams clawing to stay out of the Inter-Ac basement.
The Bears went back to Bryn Mawr with a league tally of 1-4 and SCH dipped to 2-4, with its other setbacks coming against Penn Charter, Agnes Irwin, and defending Inter-Ac champ Episcopal Academy. The Lions, who were 3-3 against all opponents in the middle of September, fell to 4-9 overall with last Wednesday’s outcome.
Freshman Meghan McCool excelled against the Irish on Tuesday, scoring four of the five goals for the victors. Junior Julia Schumacher had the other goal to help to complete the season sweep of Notre Dame.
However, SCH coach Jerry Hartey remarked that it seemed like an entirely different Lions team showed up for the Baldwin game the following afternoon.
“Yesterday we pressured, we denied the 18 [yard line], and today we were random – all over the place,” he said on Wednesday. “We didn’t trap well, we didn’t move to space well, and I don’t think we worked hard enough, either.”
Although Baldwin stepped onto the SCH pitch at Carson Valley without a single league victory in the books, Hartey related, “I told the girls yesterday not to underestimate anyone. We played back-to-back games, but Baldwin played yesterday, too, so that’s not an excuse. They obviously wanted it more than we did.”
The Lions displayed some desire at the outset, with senior Shelby Jackson firing into the Bears’ den to put the hosts ahead just two minutes into the action. She shot from the right of the box and the ball slipped through the hands of Baldwin freshman keeper Kayla Watkins and rolled inside of the left post.
The play flowed up and down the field, until with 17 minutes to go in the half Baldwin came up the field on a counterattack and Ellie Greenberg shot the ball from the middle of the box into the left side of the SCH goal.
The Bears’ confidence grew. After a few minutes they earned a corner kick, and although they did not get off a shot that time, Greenberg broke loose a little later, with 10 minutes left in the half. Springside Chestnut Hill was simply fortunate that she hit her open shot a little outside the upper right corner.
After a few SCH opportunities in the closing minutes, the period ended 1-1. McCool had sent a nice cross into the middle from the right endline, and sophomore Breon West served a long free kick inside, but the Lions did not get a foot on the ball in front of the cage either time.
McCool is known to league opponents at this stage, and she received some rough handling on Wednesday. The Lions weren’t angels, either, and for the most part the ref let play continue.
“Meghan just works and works and works,” Hartey commented. “She got fouled a lot, but they didn’t really call many fouls at all, so it goes both ways.”
In the second half the Lions had scoring chances on corners and free kicks and in real time play, but they seemed out-of-sync and never cashed in. Baldwin got the game winner with 25:09 remaining, just after Maddie Dawkins took a sharply-angled shot from near the right endline. SCH junior goalie Madi Sehn and swatted the ball to keep it from rolling across the line, but the Bears’ Laura Pansini closed in from the left to drive the loose ball home.
“We had a number of chances we didn’t finish,” noted Hartey, “and in the second half a lot of times we played the ball right to the feet of the other team.”