by Tom Utescher

Penn Charter junior Molly Pighini (left) opened the second-half scoring with this shot, firing the ball past the left arm of Baldwin goalie Carolyn Wong. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

On paper, it looked like last Friday’s Girls Inter-Ac League lacrosse match between the Penn Charter Quakers and Baldwin School would be a close contest. In an early scrimmage, Penn Charter had tied Germantown Friends School, and soon after that GFS came from behind to beat Baldwin, 15-12.

But games, as they say, aren’t played on paper. This one took place on Baldwin’s new artificial turf field, where visiting Penn Charter (which is used to its own turf playing surface) charged ahead to lead by as many as 10 goals en route to a 16-8 victory.

It was the third Inter-Ac outing for both the Quakers and the Bears, and each team had lost to the same two opponents, Notre Dame and Germantown Academy. As at Baldwin, Charter (1-3 overall) scored 16 goals in its match at GA last Tuesday, but the host Patriots deposited 17 to pull out an overtime victory.

“The scout on both GA and Baldwin was that they were fast break teams,” related first-year PC coach Channing Weymouth, who obviously wanted to cut down on the goals-against figure in Friday’s game. “We moved some people around and tightened things up to keep them from scoring in transition.”

Senior Rachel Weiner started in goal and recorded two saves before she was relieved by junior Allison Rogers. Rogers, who had started in all of the previous contests for Penn Charter, finished up with five stops.

The Quakers pocketed the opening draw and needed just 13 seconds to have freshman Avery Shoemaker get them on the scoreboard. Four minutes after that, junior Molly Pighini ran the ball down from midfield and delivered a pass to sophomore Julia Fleming, who had come around the crease unmarked to score.

This time, the Bears responded with a free-position strike from their own talented freshman, Ali Thayer, but PC would never relinquish the lead, spreading the gap to 5-1 by the middle of the period on goals by senior Sarah Butler, Pighini, and junior Kelly Kubach.

Later, Baldwin pulled back within three points with the score at 6-3, then the visitors pumped in three goals in the last two minutes of the first half. Pighini drove through the arc for the first two, then Shoemaker came from behind on the right for her second of the day. With five seconds left Weiner foiled a free-position shot by Baldwin’s Chessy Nicoletti, keeping the count at 9-3 for the interlude.

Pighini already had three of her team-high four goals in the book – not bad for a player who was a defender in 2011 and a midfielder during her freshman season.

“It’s a new thing for me to play attack, but I think I’m getting into it,” commented the junior, who also started for the PC field hockey team last fall. “My coaches taught me that when I feel I have a defending player isolated, just go ahead in and take the shot.”

Charter started the second half the way it ended the first, with three consecutive markers. After Pighini and Butler (three goals, one assist) got it going, the tally rose to 12-3 on a second goal by Fleming, whose older sister Amanda is team co-captain along with Butler. The elder Fleming has decided that she’ll attend Haverford College, while Butler is still mulling over her choices.

Julia Fleming completed a hat trick and sophomore Leigh Steinberg put in a pair late in the game, but the Bears were never really a threat after PC’s three-goal volley at the beginning of the second half.

Pighini pointed out, “This was a good win for us, because I think a lot of teams in the league have a chance to win, and it’s going to be about who wants it more.”

Weymouth revealed, “We don’t want to focus on who we’re playing as much as on what we want to do as a team.”

Her Penn Charter charges had been tied with league-leading Notre Dame at the half, and had almost won in regulation at GA before the Patriots forced overtime.

Reflecting on the Baldwin bout, the coach said, “We’re a young team, and we needed this confidence booster, to know that we can get it done.”

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