by Tom Utescher
Coming off of an uplifting overtime victory against nearby Penn Charter on September 12 and a 6-0 drubbing of Little Flower last Monday, the Germantown Friends Tigers charged out and controlled the early minutes of Wednesday’s field hockey match. Later in the first half, though, visiting Springside Chestnut Hill Academy started to balance out the time of possession, and by the closing stages of the contest, the Blue Devils were dominating play much of the time.
SCH also capitalized on several scoring opportunities, taking away a 2-0 victory that raised its record to 4-3 overall. Junior captain Allie Billick and sophomore Iman Floyd-Carroll were the scorers, and in goal sophomore Frankie Reitmeyer made eight saves for the shutout.
After falling in their season opener to Agnes Irwin, the Tigers of Germantown Friends (4-2) had logged four straight wins prior to last Wednesday’s setback.
“I think my girls played hard, but not hard enough,” said first-year GFS coach Dana White. “We’ve had games where we’ve executed beautifully and played with intensity the whole time, but this wasn’t one of them. It was interesting to see the momentum shift during the game. It wasn’t like someone threw a switch at halftime; it was gradual. Our problem was that a lot of our girls didn’t see that until it was too late and [SCH] started to score.”
The previous Thursday, rising freshman star Samantha Bruttomesso-Clarke scored once in regulation and once in overtime to help Germantown overcome the Penn Charter Quakers, 2-1. The record books at GFS showed that no Tigers team had beaten PC since the turn of the century.
“It was fantastic to have the girls earn that victory, because they fought very hard for it,” White remarked.
The day before Springside Chestnut Hill visited GFS last week, the Blue Devils had beaten another Friends Schools League squad, Friends Central, by a score of 1-0. However, they weren’t entirely overjoyed with this outcome, feeling that the amount of time they spent in the scoring circle should’ve translated into more points on the scoreboard.
However, it was noteworthy that the lone goal came from Floyd-Carroll, who wasn’t seeing as much playing time early in the season.
“Iman has really stepped up, and we needed her to because of the injuries we have,” explained Meg Cipolloni, who coaches the Blue Devils along with Katie Mersky.
Sophomore superstar Michaela Watson has been unable to play at all this fall, and another SCH tenth-grader, starter Madi Saltzman, sat out with a knee injury last week.
On Wednesday, GFS controlled the ball at the outset, earning the game’s first penalty corner just a minute into the action. Bruttomesso-Clarke, the rookie, inserted the ball to senior captain Katharine Cusick on most Germantown corners.
For the first 15 minutes, the Tigers were the aggressors much of the time, with their stretches in the circle interrupted by an occasional rush by the Blue Devils. There were sequences when it seemed impossible that that ball wasn’t going in the goal, but Reitmeyer and her defense somehow kept the SCH cage sealed until the rest of the squad steadied themselves.
The visitors’ best chance to score in the first half came with six-and-a-half minutes left. Off of a penalty corner, senior captain Anna Kuo drove the ball back down low, but two quick shots by the Devils were both stopped by the Tigers’ senior captain and veteran goalie, Maddie Andrews.
GFS had a scoring chance with a minute to go, but on the final corner play of the first period the Tigers fouled, and half ended with a pair of zeroes still on the board.
Springside Chestnut Hill had been picking up steam late in the first stanza, but ultimately that wouldn’t mean much if the visitors couldn’t penetrate the Tigers’ cage.
“At halftime we talked about really getting goal-hungry in the circle,” Coach Cipolloni related. “We had a lot of opportunities in our last game at Friends Central, where we had the ball down in their end the majority of the time and we couldn’t finish it. We talked about the mids pushing up, and the defense, as well. We put Allie [Billick] up high to be ready when Morgan [Schneer, a senior captain] hit one of her big blasts up the field.”
GFS had the first corner opportunity of the second half, about five minutes in, but SCH’s Schneer took the ball away from the receiver at the top of the circle. On a Blue Devils corner just two minutes later, they actually got the ball behind Andrews, who had stepped out from the cage, but Tigers’ senior Dana Schulman slipped in to lay her stick in front of the goal line for a defensive save.
A ball actually hit the GFS backboard a little later, but SCH had committed a high stick foul during the offensive sequence. The Blue Devils kept up the pressure but Germantown’s Andrews foiled one attempt by Kuo with 15 minutes remaining, and another by Billick five minutes later.
Just after this last stop by Andrews, a long ball hit through the midfield by Cusick sent the Tigers up on the attack, but they didn’t get very deep in the circle before the rush was repulsed.
The game-winning goal for the visitors went up on the board with eight-and-a-half minutes left to play. Kuo took the ball down the right wing to the edge of the circle and drove it inside. Sophomore Lily Glendinning got a touch on the ball in front of the goal and it deflected over to the left post, where Billick closed in to score.
For several minutes the Tigers attacked, earning two corners as they sought the equalizer, but their two best shots both tracked wide to the left of the cage.
Surviving that assault, SCH went back up on offense as the clock dropped under the three-minute mark. Coming into the top of the circle a little over to the right, Glendinning fired the ball toward Andrews, who was a few steps in front of the goal line. On a kick-save attempt, she didn’t get all of the ball as Floyd-Carroll harried her, and when the ball glanced off the keeper’s foot, the SCH sophomore knocked it into the cage for the insurance goal with 2:27 left to play.
“I think we opened things up a bit by switching fields and trying to take the ball out wide as much as we could,” Cipolloni said afterwards. “Keeping the ball out of the middle also helped keep it away from their number 11 (Cusick), who’s one of their strongest players.”