by Tom Utescher
For a number of reasons, there will be a new look and a new attitude this fall on the girls soccer team at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.
After six seasons, former head coach Jerry Hartey moved on, and the helm has been given over to John Westfield. A Northeast Philly native, Westfield was an All-Catholic soccer and baseball player at Archbishop Ryan High School.
Moving on to Philadelphia University, he helped the Rams win a Philadelphia Soccer Seven championship. A defensive midfielder, Westfield led the team in assists in his senior season, when he was a first-team all-conference selection in the Atlantic Soccer Conference.
Since graduating in 2002, he has gained extensive youth soccer coaching experience, operating numerous camps and clinics, and coaching many travel teams with the Philadelphia Soccer Club in a addition to piloting both men’s and women’s Under-23 teams. He has worked with high school squads, as well, and was head coach at Manor College in Jenkintown.
At SCH, he has taken charge of a varsity team that has undergone significant personnel changes since last season. Six seniors graduated from the 2013 roster, including starting goalkeeper Madi Sehn, a Norwood Fontbonne Academy alum.
Kathleen Foley, a talented defender who was plagued by injury as a junior last year, will not be able to return as a senior due to ACL knee surgery. That leaves the 2014 Blue Devils with just one senior, Sinéad Brierley, a midfielder who has verbally commitment to play lacrosse at St. Joseph’s University.
The team’s best player, high scoring junior Meghan McCool, is back in the ranks, and even this is something of a novelty, since she missed a large chunk of the 2013 campaign due to injury.
The team captain this fall, McCool has verbally committed to play for one of the NCAA’s premiere soccer powers, the University of Virginia. She’s the only junior returning from last year’s varsity, and there are just two other 11th-graders altogether, Jordan Stahl and a transfer from St. Basil Academy, Ashley Carabajal.
Last season, Springside Chestnut Hill had a very large turnout from the freshman class, but five of these players decided not to pursue the sport of soccer as sophomores. However, there are half-a-dozen of their classmates still on the team, and with a significant injection of ninth-grade talent, the future looks bright for the program.
Among the sophomores are two athletes with family ties to the boys’ team at SCH. Jazmin Contreras has an older brother, José, who is a fourth-year varsity player and one of the senior tri-captains for the male Blue Devils. Fellow 10th-grader Taylor Ferry has a cousin of the same name who is an assistant coach for the boys’ team. He is a 2008 graduate of the old Chestnut Hill Academy.
The other sophomores are Audrey Brown, Martha Kerbel, Alexandra McHugh, and Joy Wilson.
The starting goalie for the Blue Devils this fall, Morgan Bender, is one of eight freshmen on the roster. A number of the youngsters already have a good deal of club and travel team experience.
Along with Bender, there are three returning SCH students who are moving up to varsity as ninth graders: Aliyah Jefferies, Grace Rorke, and Akua Wilson. Four new students at the school round out the freshman flock, Sophia Boyd, Bridget Hennessey, Lucy Lamb, and Emily McNesby. Lamb’s brother Jack, one year older, plays for the boys’ soccer squad.
To the general public, the best-known player for the 2014 Blue Devils is the one eighth-grader who has been brought up to varsity. This is Mo’ne Davis, the celebrated pitcher for the Taney Dragons little league baseball team. Still wrapped up in baseball-related activities in the aftermath of her team’s appearance at World Series in Williamsport, Davis is beginning her everyday routine with the soccer squad this week.
Her teammates made their first appearance on their home turf at Maguire Stadium last Thursday morning, scrimmaging Archbishop Carroll High School. McCool scored every SCH goal in the Blue Devils’ 6-2 victory.
The junior standout got the hosts on the scoreboard less than 90 seconds into the action. Four minutes later, it was 2-0 after McNesby passed the ball up from the midfield and McCool beat two Patriots defenders to score. Only two more minutes went by before McCool netted a third goal from near the left post, and later she isolated a defender one-on-one to fashion a 4-0 halftime score.
After the count rose to 5-0 early in the second period, Carroll got on the board with 26 minutes left to play thanks to an outside shot from the right wing by Bella Sorrentino. The Patriots sophomore then assisted on a marker by senior Melissa Stahl, making it 5-2 with 15 minutes remaining.
With 11-and-a-half minutes left, SCH’s McCool completed her double hat trick, scoring out of the midst of three Carroll defenders.
The Blue Devils officially open their season with a non-league match at Shipley School this Friday, September 5.