by Tom Utescher
Just a few more Upper Dublin goals, and visiting Mount St. Joseph would suffer the indignity of having last Friday’s lacrosse match played with a running clock due to the sport’s mercy rule. That happens when one team is leading by 10 or more points, and the Upper Dublin High School Cardinals had whipped in seven unanswered goals against the Mount Magic over the first 16 minutes of last week’s non-league encounter.
The Cards would only score one more time the entire afternoon, though, and after senior Meredith Bohner finally got the Mounties on the board with less than seven minutes left in the first period, the Magic closed up the score to 8-5 by halftime and went on to win, 9-8.
Early in the game, Bohner explained, “We were having trouble with the draw. Once we started to get that it changed the whole game. They have some really good players, but we were able to concentrate and get it done.”
Bohner and fellow senior Christie Mischler each scored twice, as did junior M.K. Maloney and sophomore Katelin Cahill. Senior Kaitlyn Meister provided the other goal, and freshman goalie Annie Fowler had nine saves.
Mount St. Joe improved its record to 4-3 overall, while remaining 3-2 within the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies. Upper Dublin, which was 1-0 in Suburban One League action, slipped to 2-4 overall.
While vying for ball control off the draw in the early stages of the match, the main obstacle the Mount encountered stood 6’2” tall and was called Julie Cross. The Cardinals senior, who has signed with Syracuse, is the daughter of Upper Dublin head coach Dee Cross, a former U.S. World Cup Team player.
If the ball was propelled straight up in the air off the draw, there was no way the relatively minute Mounties were going to get it. In just over three minutes, Cross assisted the Upper Dublin icebreaker by teammate Jess Grodsky, and then scored twice herself. The first of Hannah Reape’s two goals soon followed, putting the hosts up 4-0 with less than four minutes elapsed.
After an MSJ shot by Maloney was blocked by a defender’s stick, the Cardinals were back at it. Markers by Cross, Reape, and Maddie Templeton dropped the visitors in a 7-0 hole nine minutes before halftime.
How did the Magic finally start out on the road to recovery?
“It’s one step at a time – I was telling them to just be patient,” related MSJ skipper Lindsey Colferai. “We had to kind of reorganize, and really our main focus was just shutting down their two [best] players. The rest of them we could play one-on-one.”
Holding auditions in real-time to find the right player to take the draws, Colferai sent a number of girls into the circle before finally giving the role to Bohner.
“Honestly, I can’t take credit for it,” the senior said, “because all of our people on the circle were coming in hard after the ball. I tried to get up as high as I could, but a lot of it is just luck.”
It was also Bohner who finally got the Magic on the scoreboard, sinking a low shot on a free position from the left side with 6:36 remaining in the first half. Three minutes later, Bohner brought the ball down from the middle of the field and passed it off, earning an assist on a goal by Cahill.
With 2:20 left in the half, Upper Dublin received what would be its final goal of the day, as Cross fired in her fourth. That made it 8-2, but the Magic would improve their situation significantly before the break. They rang up three goals in the last 68 seconds, starting with Bohner’s drive off of a ground ball recovery.
From out in the flat to the left of the cage, junior Isabella Balcer sent a pass in toward the near post for Cahill. She found the net to make it 8-4, and when the Magic came back down the field once more, a Cardinals foul set up a free-position score by Meister, bringing the lead down to three points at the intermission.
In the halftime huddle, the mood among the Mounties was much brighter than it had been just a few minutes earlier.
“We knew at that point that we were as good as they were,” Bohner said. “We just needed to maintain our momentum.”
Colferai agreed, “They saw that climb happening and they knew that they could take it. It was just positivity and having them work for each other.”
When play resumed, it took less than four minutes for the Magic to trim their deficit to a single point. During that stretch Cardinals keeper Sarah Gallagher faced three free position shots by the Mounties. She stopped the second one, which was taken by Bohner, but Mischler had bounced a shot in before that, and later Maloney rolled the ball into the net with an underhand shot to make it 8-7 with 21:34 left to play.
It would take another seven minutes for the visitors to finally pull even. They had a great opportunity when an Upper Dublin player was carded, but the hosts managed to keep possession of the ball much of the time while they were shorthanded.
The teams were no sooner back at even strength than Mischler dashed up the middle of the field and aimed low for the Magic’s tying goal. With the clock down near 11-and-a-half minutes, MSJ’s Balcer passed the ball across the arc from right to left, connecting with Maloney. An Upper Dublin defender had slipped down, and Maloney quickly charged the goal and scored the eventual game winner.
With eight-and-a-half minutes remaining, Mount St. Joe’s Fowler repulsed a free-position shot by Reape of Upper Dublin, and later the Magic killed a penalty stemming from an illegal check.
After an Upper Dublin time-out with 1:57 to go, the Cardinals started up the field from deep in their defensive half. The ball didn’t get to midfield before a sloppy clearing pass was picked off by the Mount’s Mischler. More aggressive and alert than they’d been in the first half, the Magic came up with a lot of 50/50 balls in the second period, and usually made the Cardinals pay for their mistakes.
Following Mischler’s interception, the Mounties showed impressive discipline as they took time off the clock and ultimately sealed the victory.
“We’ve been working on a stall in practice,” Bohner revealed. “That can get dicey sometimes, but everyone was able to stay focused. I’m really proud of my team.”