Penn Charter junior Katherine O’Donnell (left) looks for a connection upfield as she’s shadowed by SCH’s Kitty Morrissey. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Back on April 25, host Penn Charter rallied from a seven-goal deficit in the first half to squeeze past Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, 16-15, in girls lacrosse. The Quakers never led in the game until they won it on a shot that came with 17 seconds remaining.

In last Wednesday’s rematch in Chestnut Hill, PC did not wait quite so long to move ahead of the Lions. Gaining their first lead at 10-9 with 10:59 remaining, the Quakers saw SCH come back to forge the fifth tie of the game at 11-11, then PC scored the last three goals of the afternoon during the final seven minutes.

The 14-11 victory resulted in a Girls Inter-Ac League record of 5-5 and an overall mark of 8-9 for Charter, which began the season 0-3. Senior Sarah Butler, who will attend Marist College, scored four goals, and there were hat tricks for junior Emma Ebert and freshman Avery Shoemaker.

Two goals apiece by juniors Kelly Kubach and Molly Pighini rounded out the scoring for the visitors, who started senior Rachel Weiner (two saves) in goal, and then had junior Allison Rogers (nine saves) take over in the cage in the middle of the first half.

In the SCH goalcage eighth-grader Elsa Rall went the distance to accumulate five saves, while senior Ellie Stout (Bucknell) led the attack with four goals and an assist. The Lions got a hat trick from senior Libbie Maine (Princeton) and two goals and an assist from classmate Casey Sullivan (scholarship to Lafayette). Jenny Lukoff scored one goal and set up two others, and the hosts got a goal and an assist from fellow junior Kitty Morrissey, who has given a verbal commitment to play for Duke University.

The Lions started out the season 5-0 but became bogged down after that, coming away from last week’s PC tilt at 3-8 in the Inter-Ac and 8-12 overall. SCH has held a lead in most contests, but has had trouble closing them out, losing three one-goal games and dropping three others by three goals or less.

Both teams had seen league action the day before. Springside Chestnut Hill lost to powerful Academy of Notre Dame (17-7) for the second time this spring, while the Quakers knocked off Agnes Irwin (15-10), a team they lost to during the first round of Inter-Ac games.

“It’s physically demanding to play back-to-back league games,” observed first-year PC coach Channing Weymouth, “and you also need mental toughness to push through when you’re tired. Today we got stronger as the game went on.”

SCH took the opening draw and went on to dominate that category in the first half. Sullivan’s free position shot got the Lions on the board in the first minute. The hosts’ young goalie, Rall, stopped a close shot by PC’s Pighini, but the Quakers evened it up about five minutes in, when Butler rolled around a defender to fire the first of her four.

A marker by the Lions’ Maine was matched by Shoemaker for a 2-2 count, then the home team went up by two on consecutive strikes by Stout, each assisted by Lukoff. Pighini and Butler brought the visitors back to 4-4 with 7:49 to go in the half, but the Lions pushed ahead once more. After Sullivan and Maine found the net, a feed from the top of the arc by Morrissey found Lukoff coming around the crease.

Lukoff’s marker made it 9-6 with 3:05 remaining, but with a little over a minute to go Shoemaker got one point back for Charter, which was down by two for the halftime huddle.

SCH junior Taylor Wrubel collected the draw at the start of the second half, but soon the Lions turned the ball over and the Quakers spent the next few minutes on offense. They were frustrated by Rall several times, then a loose ball was scooped up in the arc by Butler, who scored to pull PC within one. Five minutes in, SCH’s Stout rolled around the cage to complete a personal hat trick, and  the Lions were back up by two points.

Ebert’s free-position gambit from the right side made it 8-7, but an attempted equalizer by Shoemaker was saved.

Stout scored her fourth goal of the day for SCH, but not long after that one of her teammates was sent off the field with a yellow card. On a free position during the penalty, Ebert aimed into the upper right corner for her second goal of the half. This pulled Penn Charter back within one goal again, 9-8, and it also proved to be the start of a 7-2 run for the Quakers over the final 15:37.

With the teams back even, PC keeper Rogers denied the hosts’ Maine on a restart in the arc, and the Quakers came back down the field to earn a free-position opportunity of their own. Pighini converted to level the tally at 9-9 with 11:53 left to play.

The Lions snagged the next draw but quickly lost possession, and Kubach made a successful drive through the middle to give the visitors their first lead of the day. PC’s Butler also drove hard to the cage for another goal, and the Quakers were up 11-9 at the 10-minute mark.

The Lions had a few growls left in them, and netted back-to-back goals in a 20-second span. Maine recovered a ground ball near midfield and loped in to score, then a pass from Sullivan set up a shot on the right edge of the crease by Morrissey. The clock showed 8:32 remaining with the score locked up at 11-all.

Penn Charter captured each of the last four draws of the day. On a free-position shot with 7:08 to go, Ebert completed her hat trick (all second-half goals), slipping the ball inside the right post about waist-high to move the Quakers ahead for keeps.

PC missed a catch in the arc during the next minute, but Kubach picked up the loose ball and scored the first insurance goal for the leaders. The final point went up with 4:57 left to play, with Shoemaker starting out in the flat to the right of the goal and penetrating to score.

Sophomore Julia Fleming came up with the ball on the subsequent draw, which was the last of the game. Playing with poise, PC ran down the clock as it passed the ball around in the offensive third. On a few errant passes the ball hit the ground, but Charter always got it back, and time ran out on the Lions.

“We played really smart in the last five minutes,” remarked Weymouth. “The girls realized that we had enough goals to win if we took care of the ball.”

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