by Tom Utescher
Going back a number of years, former Penn Charter girls soccer coach Eddie Mensah didn’t hesitate to start players as young as ninth grade – or even eighth grade – if he felt they were up to the task.
These athletes started to truly come of age in 2012, when the Quakers finished second both in the Girls Inter-Ac League and in the Pa. Independent Schools Championships, and despite graduating four players from that team, PC is back this fall with a talented roster and plenty of varsity experience.
In addition, the team also has an excellent new coaching staff to lead them into the 2013 campaign. A former Division I and professional soccer player, head coach Darci Borski is also the new Associate Athletic Director at Penn Charter (see feature story in the 6/20/13 LOCAL).
Borski is a product of the strong soccer tradition in Northeast Philadelphia, as is assistant Ashley Maher, who played high school ball for St. Hubert’s and then joined the team at Division I Seton Hall University. The Quakers’ other assistant coach, Kellyn Jaspan, played for Germantown Academy and then returned to the Patriots as an assistant coach for four seasons during Borski’s tenure as GA head coach.
Leadership on the field for the Quakers will come from the senior tri-captains, Kristina Kubach, Stephanie Soroka, and Leigh Steinberg. Lauren Dimes is another skilled, experienced senior, and the fifth 12th-grader on the roster, Julia Casasanto, is just completing her recovery from a broken leg she suffered last fall. Aside from Casasanto, all of the seniors started in Charter’s home field scrimmage against Little Flower Catholic High School last Friday afternoon.
Eliza Jacobs also got the starting nod; her companions in the team’s junior class are Abigail Evans, Maddie Mahoney and Norwood Fontbonne Academy graduate Colleen Clark.
Dominique DeMarco and National Team player Jlon Flippens are both sophomores who have been starting for the squad since they were in eighth grade. Two of their classmates, Hannah Fox and Ayanna Matthews, are great all-round athletes who’ve been first-string players for the PC basketball team since they were eighth-graders.
Another 10th grader, Josie Dutton, is a new student at Penn Charter, but she stepped right into a starting role last Friday, when Matthews also joined Flippens and DeMarco on the field for the opening whistle.
Once again, the Quakers’ starting line-up included an eighth-grade athlete – DeMarco’s younger sister, Giovanna.
The one position where PC doesn’t have a lot of varsity experience is in the nets. After each of the last two seasons, the team has seen its starting goalie graduate the next spring. Sophomore Alexa Herskowitz has spent time in the cage in JV competition, but Coach Borski’s other prospect is a rookie in goal.
Freshman Mireyah Davis is a new arrival on School House Lane who is primarily a basketball player, but her height (5’11”), reflexes, and game sense indicate that she’ll be quick study as a keeper. She got the start on Friday, and Herskowitz played the second half against Little Flower.
As soon as the scrimmage got underway, Flippens shell-shocked the visitors by scoring a goal in each of the first two minutes of action. She soon completed a natural hat trick to make it 3-0 just over five minutes in, but then Little Flower regrouped and began to play with more poise and physical control.
Five minutes into the second half Flippens almost made it 4-0, but on a run into the right side of the box her shot tracked just outside of the far post. Four minutes later, she crossed the ball toward the goalmouth from the same side, and making a well-timed run for the tap-in was Giovanna DeMarco, netting her first varsity goal at Penn Charter. However, PC’s four-goal advantage lasted less than a minute, as the Sentinels went right up the field to finally snap the shutout.
Flippens did eventually notch a fourth goal in the contest, scoring from close range off an entry pass by Dulton. Little Flower answered that goal to make it 5-2, and that’s they way it ended after another promising shot by the visitors struck the right post with 10 minutes to go.