GFS senior Carmen Turner (left) is confronted by the leg pads of Friends Central goalie Maddie Henry. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

GFS senior Carmen Turner (left) is confronted by the leg pads of Friends Central goalie Maddie Henry. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Both host Germantown Friends and visiting Friends Central entered last Friday’s field hockey match still looking for their first Friends Schools League victory of the season, and the action on the field showed that neither team had lost its competitive spirit.

Two first-half goals by co-captain Carmen Turner for the GFS Tigers were matched by a pair of second-half strikes by fellow senior Alyssa Holt of the FC Phoenix, forcing the contest into overtime. For the seven-on-seven OT, Turner and GFS sophomore goalie Layah Taylor were joined by the other Tigers co-captain, senior Abigail Gard, along with juniors Zoe Loomis, Emma Lynam and Livia Pinover and sophomore Allie Lipshutz.

GFS attacked early in the extra session, but Friends Central then went up the field and earned a penalty corner with five-and-a-half minutes remaining in the 15-minute, sudden victory session. This restart sequence ended with a goal by Phoenix senior Anne Pizzini, giving the visitors a 3-2 victory and a 1-3 record in the league.

Obviously, it was a frustrating outcome for the Tigers (0-5 league, 2-10 overall), who had opened league play in late September with a 2-1 overtime loss to Moorestown Friends.

Last Friday, Friends Central controlled the ball much of the time in the first five minutes, then a GFS corner play at the other end fizzled due to a foul by the Tigers. The action flowed back down into the home team’s circle, but Germantown’s Loomis knocked the ball away before any forwards could fire, and then a Phoenix corner also failed to produce a shot.

Nine minutes in, a stretch of steady offensive pressure began for the Tigers, but visiting keeper Maddie Henry (a senior headed for Cornell) kept her cage sealed. The momentum was back with FC around the middle of the period, but then the next offensive push by GFS yielded results. The Tigers advanced into the Phoenix circle in force, and Turner tapped in her first goal with an assist from Gard.

There was 12:25 left to play in the first half, and GFS didn’t let the visitors up for air, heading straight back to the circle and seeing Turner add a second goal less than a minute after she shot her first. The senior was active at the other end of the pitch, too, sweeping the ball off of the GFS goal line with nine minutes left in the opening period.

The visitors vigorously continued their quest to get at least one goal on the board before halftime, but GFS was able to hang onto its 2-0 advantage until the interlude. Helping Germantown’s Taylor (eight saves total) deny the Phoenix were Loomis and Gard, who each cleared a ball from the front of the Tigers’ cage in the final stages of the half.

The home team’s 2-0 lead endured a dozen minutes into the second frame, then the Phoenix got their first goal from Holt. Right at the middle of the half Germantown fans were ready to celebrate a hat trick for Turner, but the senior’s promising shot from the middle of the circle was saved at the left post by Henry, who would be credited with a total of 23 saves in the Friends Central scorebook.

The Phoenix then made a serious push for the tying goal, and they got it on the last in a series of four penalty corners. There was no clean shot directly off the restart, but the ball pinballed around the box until it reached the stick of Holt on the right side. She drove the ball right into the middle of the GFS backboard to knot the score at 2-2 with 12:19 remaining in regulation.

In the final eight minutes GFS earned four corners but could not get the go-ahead goal. Finally, Gard flicked a shot that glanced off a Friends Central back and bounced outside of the right post, and soon the bout went into overtime.

The play ranged up and down the field and the fatigue of the players was becoming apparent. A little over six minutes into the 15-minute OT Gard sent a shot into the leg pads of FC’s Henry, and when Turner closed in on the rebound she tipped the ball wide to the right.

The Phoenix came down the field and eventually earned a corner with almost 10 minutes gone in the extra round. Controlling the ball on the right side of the circle, Holt played it over into the middle where Pizzini scored with a reversed stick, finally bringing the struggle to an end.