by Tom Utescher
Results from the first month of Inter-Ac League field hockey games indicated that the squads from Springside Chestnut Hill Academy and Penn Charter would be well-matched, and that proved to be the case last Tuesday, when the Blue Devils and Quakers met for the first time in the 2013 campaign.
After visiting SCH matched a pair of Charter goals to arrive at halftime in a 2-2 tie, the defenses held sway for much of the second period, but with three-and-a-half minutes remaining junior Avery Shoemaker knocked in a loose ball in front of the goal to give PC a 3-2 victory.
“We’ve been working on going hard to every ball, and that’s what the girls did today,” commented first-year Quakers coach Melissa Grosman. “We played with a sense of urgency, which has been something we’ve lacked in some other games. Springside Chestnut Hill was a great match-up for us. They were able to finish on us a couple of times and we had to fight to get the win, which is good for us as a team.”
Coming into the game, each team had beaten Baldwin School in Inter-Ac competition, SCH (1-5 in the league) once, and Penn Charter (2-5) twice.
In their encounter with Baldwin the previous Saturday, the Blue Devils had sophomore Lily Glendinning get hit in the forehead by a lifted ball, and she was out of action for Tuesday’s tilt at PC.
Charter had a total of three players out due to concussions suffered at various stages of the season. The most recent casualty was junior Tara Murphy, who experienced recurring symptoms after returning from her original injury early in the season.
Filling her position in the key defensive role of sweep was another 11th-grader, Holly Webb.
“Holly was awesome today in the back, doing all the dirty work on defense,” Coach Grosman said. “I liked the way our defense was stepping into balls a lot today; they weren’t letting their girls receive it.”
Junior goalie Kennedy Kline stopped eight shots for the winners, while SCH sophomore Frankie Reitmeyer finished with five saves. During the afternoon, Penn Charter earned 10 corners to the visitors’ four.
The Quakers got on the board just one minute and 36 seconds into the action, when Webb drove the ball to the front of the goal and junior classmate Dolly Segal tipped it across the line.
One of SCH’s chief offensive threats this fall has involved getting a big hit up to speedy Allie Billock in transition. The junior answered PC’s opening goal with just over seven minutes elapsed, penetrating into the circle on the right and firing from about 10 yards out.
PC regained the lead almost immediately in the aftermath of a penalty corner. The Quakers still had the ball high in the circle after the restart, and junior Grace Harbison sent it down toward the cage. This time it was sophomore Ellie Zimering, a quick, compact player like Segal, who was in front of the goal to provide the finishing touch.
PC couldn’t convert on three subsequent corners, and at the far end Kline quashed attempts by SCH senior Morgan Schneer and Billick. Just when it appeared that the home team’s 2-1 lead would last until halftime, Billick once again leveled the score for the visitors, flicking in a shot from a few yards out after the ball was hit into the right side of the circle.
Springside Chestnut Hill remained on the attack as the second half got underway, but before very long the Quakers reversed the flow. They earned a series of corners in the middle of the period, but the tie remained unbroken. It was starting to look like overtime was in the offing, and PC’s Grosman called time-out with about five minutes remaining in regulation play.
“I wanted them to get a breather,” Grosman explained, “because even though we were controlling the game at that point I thought we looked really dead. I just wanted up to regroup and focus on what was working for us to finish out the game.”
Not long after the pep talk, the Quakers had their winning goal in the book with 3:29 to go. The Blue Devils were trying to clear the ball out of the left side of the circle but didn’t get a stick solidly on the ball. Instead, Charter was able to prod it back into the middle closer to the cage, where Shoemaker homed in for the game’s deciding goal.
Later, Grosman made sure she acknowledged the hard work of one of her younger players in the middle of the field.
“Bella Smith [a sophomore] played out of her mind,” the coach remarked. “She was amazing on the right middie, and without that presence on the wing we wouldn’t have had the same result.”
After the Quakers scored their third goal, the Blue Devils went up on the attack, but bogged down as they tried to move into the scoring circle. They set up for a corner play with a minute remaining, but were called for a foul when sophomore Madi Saltzman lifted the ball a bit on a drive toward the cage. Soon after that, Penn Charter was able to celebrate.