by Tom Utescher
As in their first meeting this season, the outcome of last Thursday’s soccer rematch between the Mount St. Joseph Magic and Gwynedd Mercy Academy was decided by a single goal, and once again it was the Monarchs who pulled out the victory, 1-0. After a scoreless opening period, Emily Kennedy scored for the visiting Monarchs with 7:32 elapsed in the second half, the in the last half-hour the Mounties were unable to come up with an equalizer.
In their first meeting, back on September 12 at Gwynedd, the Monarchs took a 3-2 decision in overtime.
“That was sort of an emotional game, and things got a little chippy,” related Mount head coach Catherine Kulp. “This time there was just good, high-energy soccer on both sides. I thought we played good defense, but we let in the one goal and we couldn’t finish any of our chances, so the one was enough for them.”
The two teams had been tied in the loss column in the Catholic Academies standings, so with the win Gwynedd advanced to 7-3 in the league (9-5 overall), while the Mount (10-4 overall) slipped to 5-4.
Two of the Monarchs’ three AACA losses came against league leader and defending champ Villa Joseph Marie, and the third setback occurred in a road game at Villa Maria, 5-4. Gwynedd has a home rematch against Villa Maria still on the docket, as well as a second game against Merion Mercy, a team it beat easily the first time around.
Aside from coming out on the short end of the season series with Gwynedd, the Mount lost in the first round to Villa Joseph Marie and St. Basil. The Magic defeated Villa Maria twice, and will finish league play with rematches against Villa Joe, Basil’s, and Nazareth.
Last Thursday, the Mount controlled the ball off the opening whistle and got of the first shot of the afternoon, and a little later Gwynedd had a chance on a corner kick but couldn’t get off a bona fide shot. About 15 minutes in, Gwynedd’s Kim Sanford burst across the Mount 18 with the ball, but fired it a little wide to the left.
On a nice transition sequence, the Mounties advanced up the left wing, but here, too, the attack culminated in a shot wide of the mark. The home fans got a real scare just past the midway point in the half, when GMA’s Emily Sullivan launched a long shot from the right flank that struck the Magic’s left goalpost.
With a dozen minutes left, freshman Angela Gervasi entered the game for the Magic and quickly had a shooting opportunity. The ball was not struck particularly hard, and in the middle of the goalmouth it was swallowed up by Gwynedd’s keeper, Laura Lutes, for one of her 10 saves in the game. The play had originated with the ball being transported up the right wing by MSJ senior Natalie Bohner.
The MSJ crowd again let out a gasp thanks to an episode deep in their defensive half. With eight minutes left in the period, the second of two GMA corner kicks produced a high shot where the ball was tipped straight up in the air by the Mount’s sophomore goalie, Charlotte Sands (seven saves). Gwynedd’s Sanford was first to reach the ball when it landed, but she popped her shot over the crossbar. The half ended with the count still 0-0.
The action continued to flow from end to end as the second period got underway, and finally one of the teams was able to convert for a score. On a ball that rolled loose momentarily about 10 yards out in the right side of the box, MSJ’s Sands started out from the cage but didn’t reach the ball in time, and Kennedy kicked it past her for the lone goal of the match with 32:28 left on the clock.
At the far end a few minutes later, Magic junior Devon Conway was out along the right endline and tried to bend a shot into the near side of the cage. It was a worthy attempt, but the ball curved a little too much and ended up outside of the right post.
After that, the Magic had some more chances to tie the game, and Gwynedd had just as many opportunities to add an insurance goal.
Mount mentor Kulp noted, “Later in the game I tried to overload the offense, putting a few more attacking players up front.”
The Mounties were awarded a direct kick out near the right corner, but didn’t get off a shot. Shooting from the middle of the box, junior Maryanna Solecki had a shot saved by GMA’s Lutes, and with five minutes left the visiting keeper charged out to beat senior Courtney Higginson to a ball the Mount sent into the right side of the box. Before long, the Monarchs were able to celebrate.
With a league tournament no longer being held, Mount St. Joe will soon part ways with its AACA peers, seeing a berth in the District 1 Class AAA playoffs while most of the other teams look to advance in the double-A category.
“We’ve done well in our matches against district teams outside of our league; we’ve beaten all of them so far,” said Kulp.
Her squad has knocked off Council Rock North, Lower Merion, Plymouth Whitemarsh, Radnor, and St. Hubert, with always-tough Strath Haven left on the schedule.
Although Kulp, like every coach, would like to see her offense finish more of the scoring opportunities it creates, she has few complaints on the defensive end.
“In the central defense, I think Colleen Steinmetz is one of the best, if not the best, players in the league,” stated the Magic skipper. “Noelle [Buchanan] has been wonderful, and I have her back for another year. Mary Grace [McIntyre] is just that spitfire who gives you pure energy, and Sarah [Lynch] gives us a lot of speed all over the defensive half.”
Steinmetz, McIntyre, and Lynch are all seniors, and Buchanan is a junior.
“In the goal, Charlotte is still only a sophomore, and she’s coming along nicely and maturing,” Kulp added. “They’re a strong group on defense, and we’ve given up a lot fewer goals than anyone in our league besides Villa Joe.”