by Tom Utescher
After a modest scoring output in a 3-1 loss to Shipley School back on September 9, Penn Charter’s field hockey franchise opened the offensive floodgates against another Friends Schools League opponent last Friday, turning away visiting Friends Central School by a score of 8-0.
Senior Sophie Eldridge, who will sign with Northwestern University, provided all three goals for the PC Quakers in the first half, and finished with five overall. Senior Dolly Segal and juniors Bella Smith and Ellie Zimering furnished the other three markers for Charter, which improved to 2-1 while FC slipped to 0-4.
In goal, PC has been splitting time between two keepers, senior Kennedy Kline and sophomore Janelle Sullivan.
“Both girls are doing so well it’s hard for me to choose one,” explained second-year head coach Melissa Grosman. “Their styles are a little different, but they both control the game back there and I’m confident in their skills. In front of them we have a pretty young defensive line. With them, we’re focusing on learning to rotate the ball with confidence and trusting one another, and I was happy to see some of that today.”
Kline, a senior quad-captain along with Eldridge, Segal and Grace Harbison, started against the Phoenix last Friday. She did not have to make a save in the first period; Sullivan went into the cage after halftime and made two stops to preserve the shutout.
Up on the offensive end, Grosman said, “We’ve been working a lot on drawing corners and executing corners. The girls are playing smarter and taking advantage of opportunities in our 25 [yard line]. We had people in the right spots today.”
Despite almost constant pressure applied by the Quakers’ offense, the score in Friday’s match remained 0-0 until more than halfway through the opening period. Eldridge broke the ice on a penalty stroke with 12:53 left in the half, bouncing the ball in off the left post.
With 9:10 left on the clock, the Charter senior cashed in on one of her team’s 11 corners in the first period. Receiving the insertion at the top of the offense, she dished the ball laterally to Harbison on her right. Harbision gave the ball back to a now-open Eldridge, who drove it home.
Later, freshman reserve Ava Nicolucci came close to scoring on when she hit the ball across the front of the goal from right to left, almost catching the far post.
The Quakers did end up with a third goal before the half expired, though.
A drive by Eldridge appeared to deflect into the cage off an FC defender with just 20 seconds remaining.
In the first 10 minutes of the second stanza, Charter built the lead up to 5-0, as Segal scored the first goal of the half and then assisted on a strike by Zimering. Near the middle of the period, the count rose to 7-0 as PC posted a pair of goals in just over a minute-and-a-half. After Eldridge registered her fourth of the afternoon, Smith scored on a strong drive from the top of the circle with 14:24 left to play.
With 3:24 remaining, Eldridge wrapped up the scoring by cashing in on one of the frequent PC penalty corners. In this category, PC led its guest 20-0 on the stat sheet. The final tally could’ve been worse for the Phoenix if not for the plucky play of junior goalie Maddie Henry.
Just prior to this game, PC’s Grosman related, “Bella Smith moved from right mid to center forward. She’s adapting to it well and she did a nice job setting up the shot for us.”
The Quakers’ mentor was glad to see a number of players appear in the scoring stats.
She noted, “We have people who can score on corners, and people who can score from the open field, and Sophie is dangerous from anywhere. We’re emphasizing the importance of getting the ball on the goalie’s pads and then hustling to be in position to finish the play off of the rebound.”
This week the Quakers start in on their Inter-Ac League schedule by facing the second and third-place teams from 2013, Episcopal Academy and Agnes Irwin. The Academy of Notre Dame is the defending champion.