by Tom Utescher
For the last several years, the lacrosse match between Germantown Friends School and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy has come right down to the wire. In most cases, the SCH Blue Devils led their Northwest Philly rivals by multiple goals, only to have the Tigers rally late and pull out the victory.
At GFS last Thursday, it almost happened again to the Devils, who had already lost one-goal games to Penn Charter and Friends Central this season. SCH held five-goal leads in each half, but in the second period Germantown recovered from a 13-8 shortfall and senior Greta Meyer brought the home team even with 50 seconds remaining.
This time, though, all the numbers worked in the Blue Devils’ favor at the very end. With 13 seconds to go and the score tied at 13-13, a free-position on the GFS arc was awarded to SCH’s number 13, junior Natalie Schwartz. She aimed high and scored to give the visitors a 14-13 win.
The non-league victory raised Springside Chestnut Hill’s overall record to 2-5, while the team remained 1-3 within the Inter-Ac League.
Schwartz and Mason Rode each recorded a hat trick, while senior Maddy Aslansan led the side with four goals. Two from junior Mikaela Watson and one goal apiece by senior Sinéad Brierley and sophomore Taylor Ferry rounded it out for the winners. A number of junior Elsa Rall’s nine saves in goal came at critical points in the game.
Three seniors shouldered the entire scoring load for Germantown Friends. Annie Tyson deposited a game-high five goals, while Meyer and Ava Schwemler each chalked up four. Freshman keeper Corin Grady showed poise in the cage and came away with eight saves. The Tigers were still 2-0 in Friends Schools League competition after the match, while their overall record leveled out at 3-3.
Over the first eight-and-a-half minutes of Wednesday’s game, SCH built a 3-0 lead, with two strikes by Aslansan sandwiched around one by Brierley.
After that, a malfunction in Germantown’s electronic scoreboard caused the action to be halted for a few minutes.
When play resumed, Tyson broke the ice for the Tigers, stuffing in the rebound of her own free position shot with 14:15 remaining in the first half. Meyer also converted off a restart to get GFS back within one point of the leaders at 11:20, but the visitors responded with four consecutive markers. Schwartz and Aslansan made good on free position opportunities, while Rode accounted for the other two, driving from behind the net for her first, and then receiving a pass from Watson after the junior pocketed one of her eight draw controls.
Free positions set the stage for a pair of goals by Germantown’s Schwemler, closing up the score to 7-4.
“For most of the game, there seemed to be a lot of calls for pushing and whatnot,” commented SCH skipper Allison Thomas. “We haven’t seen that many calls in the eight-meter area. We told the girls they needed to be disciplined, hold their body positioning, and not swing at the ball.”
As the clock dropped below two minutes for the first half, the Blue Devils answered both of Schwemler’s shots. First, Watson dodged in from out in the flat on the right side, then Ferry cut to the crease and received an assist from senior Carlin Rode.
For a second time, the visitors led by five points (now 9-4), but GFS was able to take a little bit of momentum into the halftime huddle. This was provided by Tyson, who struck from the left side of the arc off of a feed from Meyer with 47 seconds to go. Germantown came right down the field after the next draw and almost had Tyson tally again before the break, but her shot was stopped by the Devils’ Rall, and the count remained 9-5 at the intermission.
Meyer plucked the second-half draw and immediately assisted Tyson on the Tigers’ sixth goal. The hosts attacked again off the center restart, but Rall repulsed a shot and SCH went on the attack. In a little over 10 minutes, the Blue Devils would outscore GFS 4-2, with markers by (in order) Aslansan, Watson, Schwartz and Rode.
On the last two goals in the string Schwartz and Rode assisted each other, and the visitors now owned a five-goal lead once more, at 13-8 with 12:46 remaining. By this time, it had been decided to let the main GFS scoreboard stand idle, and a portable display was set up at the scoring table.
During the Devils’ run, Meyer’s second and third goals had kept the Tigers from digging a hopeless hole. Just over a minute after Springside Chestnut Hill chalked up its 13th goal, GFS started its late rally. Tyson and Schwemler each found the net for a 13-10 tally with nine minutes left.
The goalies held firm over the next few minutes, with Germantown’s Grady stopping a free-po attempt by Mason Rose, and with the Blue Devils’ Rall turning aside a shot by Schwemler. Schwemler would not be denied her fourth goal of the day, though, and later bounced the ball in off a free position.
With 2:20 remaining, another call in the arc resulted in Tyson’s fifth of the afternoon. A University of Virginia squash recruit, the senior knows a good deal about shot placement, and she tucked this one precisely into the upper right corner.
With the score now 13-12, SCH gained possession off the draw and took a little time off the clock, but right around the one-minute mark one of the Devils dropped a teammate’s pass. Celia Meyer, Greta’s freshman sibling, was right there to scoop up the ball, and the Tigers had life.
Big sister scored with 50 seconds left to play, forging down to outside of the right post, then using a roll dodge to free herself for a successful shot to level the count at 13-13.
In a scramble for the ball on the next draw sequence, SCH’s Watson was fouled, and after taking a few steps, she received another call with 39 seconds to go. She got the ball away to Aslansan, who was fouled at the top of the arc with 19 ticks remaining.
Aslansan passed to her left for Schwartz, who penetrated toward the cage and drew yet another whistle from the amped-up GFS defenders. As mentioned earlier, it was 13’s all around, on the scoreboard, on the clock, and on the Springsider’s uniform. She went in with her stick high and kept the ball up, hitting the corner on the right.
The goal actually went into the books with 11 seconds to go, and GFS called a time-out.
Huddling up her own troops, the Blue Devils’ Thomas explained, “You have to bring them in and settle them down. You try and keep them in the moment where they’re playing really well together, and get them to realize we can win this.”
Both teams had been experimenting with different center draw personnel; for this last one it was Aslansan for SCH and senior Ellie Chalphin for the hosts. Germantown came up with the ball and was fouled, but now there were only six seconds left and the ball was still in the middle of the field. When play started again, the Tigers bobbled a pass, and the game was over.
Speaking of her keeper, Rall, SCH’s Thomas said, “She had some big stops for us today, and unfortunately she had a lot of one-on-one’s against her because of all the free positions. She did a good job, and when she got the ball she made good quick clears up the field.”
Overall, the coach noted, “I think we’ve had some confidence issues, so any time we can win a close game like this, it helps us.”