by Tom Utescher
In their second straight non-league match in the midst of the Inter-Ac season, the Penn Charter Quakers opened up with eight straight goals in front of a home crowd last Monday, and cruised to a 13-3 victory over visiting Cheltenham High School.
PC leveled its overall record with the win, while remaining 2-4 within the league. Cheltenham, with a squad consisting largely of good athletes whose primary sport is not lacrosse, slipped to 4-6, and stayed at 0-3 in the Suburban One League.
The Quakers’ points were well-distributed among various players, with eight different names appearing in the scoring column. There were two goals apiece from seniors Avery Shoemaker and Justine Kimbel, junior Meredith Chernak, and sophomores Courtney Cubbin and Macaul Mellor. Single strikes by junior Hannah Fox, sophomore Perri Keehfuss, and freshman Greer Guyer rounded out Charter’s total. In goal, sophomore starter Jamillah Buie was eventually relieved by senior Maddie Mahoney, each finishing with three saves.
The Quakers took control from the outset, vaulting to a 3-0 advantage in the first 92 seconds thanks to Cubbin, Shoemaker, and Fox. After the home side built their lead to 5-0 five minutes into the contest, the scoring pace slowed, but PC possessed the ball most of the time.
Charter stretched the score to 8-0 with a little under nine minutes left in the opening period, but Cheltenham was saved from a first-half shut-out by Mary Kate Dorley, who found the PC net with 3:51 remaining.
Cheltenham played with more confidence and poise in the second half, although at this point the Penn Charter girls simply needed to maintain the lead they’d built up in the second half. Dorley notched a second goal for the visitors and Amber Turner also scored for the Panthers.
The tally was 11-3 before Cubbin and Chernak each scored in the last 19 seconds of the game. Cheltenham keeper Morgan Stern had four saves on the day.
For Fox, one of the Quakers’ most active players all over the field, it was the first game back in a PC uniform after a two-game hiatus. Aiming to play basketball in college, the junior was attending a major recruiting showcase event for that sport, the Boo Williams Nike Invitational in Hampton, Va.
She may well have affected the outcome of the second lacrosse game she missed, but not the first. On Thursday, April 23, the Quakers lost to defending Inter-Ac co-champion Agnes Irwin, 15-6. Two days later at the annual Katie Samson Lacrosse Festival in Radnor, Charter bowed in double overtime to Haverford High School, 10-9.
During that contest, the 200-goal career milestone was reached by senior high-scorer Shoemaker, who committed to the University of Virginia as a 10th-grader and signed with the Cavaliers last November. Going into the Haverford match, she needed just one goal to hit the mark, and she scored five times to come away with 204 goals.
She was aware of the impending achievement, but she hadn’t known for long.
“They thought I might do it against Agnes Irwin, and my dad let me know after that game that I had 199,” she related. “It was kind of nerve-wracking, but at least I only had one more to go when I found out about it.”
Shoemaker has a goalcage set up in the backyard of her Chestnut Hill home, and she does a good deal of extracurricular practicing, often aided by her father. She knows that goals won’t be as easy to come by when she’s facing ACC competition at Virginia.
“I think that shooting at this level is easy because I usually have all the space I need,” she said. “I need to work on shooting with much more pressure, and I also want to start thinking even more about placing my shots, knowing exactly where I want to put the ball and being able to do that.”
She hasn’t gotten any specific directions from the coaches at UVA thus far, but she’ll be down in Charlottesville for summer session and she’ll begin to receive instruction then.
For now, she’s enjoying her final season at Penn Charter.
“I like our new coaches, and I really hope they’ll be here for awhile,” said the Quakers stand-out, referring to the fact that she’s worked under three different coaching regimes during her four years of varsity lacrosse. “One of the biggest struggles for my group was that we kept changing coaches.
“This year we got off to a good start,” she continued. “Our trip to Florida over spring break really helped bring the team together. We have a lot of strong young players, and as they get more experience, the team will keep getting stronger.”