by Tom Utescher
Mount St. Joseph Academy soccer fans got the first look at their 2014 team last Monday in a home field appearance against Ridley High School. In this game-format scrimmage (the starting date for official games would be Friday, August 29), the host Magic amassed a 6-1 halftime lead and cruised to a 7-1 victory.
While Ridley belongs to a solid soccer league, the Green Raiders finished low in the Central League standings last fall. Nevertheless, the Mount’s ability to connect passes and finish a lot of its scoring chances at this early stage was encouraging.
The team tri-captains for fourth-year head coach Catherine Kulp are seniors Noelle Buchanan, Maryanna Solecki, and Amanda Steinberg. Six players graduated from last year’s varsity line-up, including skilled striker Courtney Higginson, veteran defenders Mary Grace McIntyre and Colleen Steinmetz, and throw-in specialist Sarah Lynch.
In last Monday’s initial outing against Ridley, current seniors Devon Conway and Caitlin Morrissey started along with the tri-captains. Also on the field to open the season were juniors Gabby Good, M.K. Maloney, and veteran goalie Charlotte Sands, along with sophomores Paige Comtois, Angela Gervasi, and Ashley Pyne. All except Good and Morrissey were everyday varsity players in 2013.
Another returning starter, junior Isabella Balcer, was still sitting out following a minor injury, but was scheduled to return later in the week.
Senior Mary Kate Giarrocco and junior Meredith Bohner were both varsity team members last season. Moving up into the varsity ranks this fall are seniors Katie Mars and Sierra Palantino, juniors Jenny Murphy and Meg Morrissey (no relation to Caitlin), and sophomore Kieran Glowacki.
Former MSJ goalie Meghan Keown, now a senior, has shifted into the role of team manager.
In the opening scrimmage, the Magic got on the board just four minutes into the action, when a corner kick from the left led to a goal by Good from in front on the cage. On the offensive transition a few minutes later, Comtois received a pass just as she was going by the last defender, and scored one-on-one against the Ridley keeper.
After about 18 minutes had gone by, Solecki found the net on a shot from outside the 18 yard line in the middle of the field. With 10 minutes to go in the half, Bohner found success when she fired from out in the right side of the box, and five minutes later Conway struck from closer in to make it 5-0.
On a transition sequence with a little over two minutes left in the first period, a Ridley forward scored from the left side of the box to give the Green Raiders their lone point of the afternoon. The Magic got that one back just two seconds before the halftime horn, when Palantino cashed in from in front of the cage.
Roughly 10 minutes into the second period Good bounced a shot off the left goalpost, and a number of other near misses by the Mount occurred throughout the half, including a crossbar strike. The one ball that made it in was released by the persistent Good, who converted from near the left post following a pass across the front of the goalcage.
As in many seasons past, Bucks County power Villa Joseph Marie is the clear favorite to claim the Catholic Academies crown. The Jems will be Mount St. Joseph’s first league opponent, with the Magic hosting the affair the day after Labor Day.