Challenged by Lawrenceville’s Alan Cook (left), Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s Meghan McCool launches the shot that produced the first of her two goals last Saturday. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

It was a good day for the “17” jersey. Five of the six total goals in last Saturday’s girls’ soccer clash came from players wearing that number, with both of host Springside Chestnut Hill’s markers coming from freshman Meghan McCool, while Lawrenceville School’s “17,” senior Kristen Gatti, registered a hat trick in the visitors’ 4-2 victory.

SCH (0-2) tied the match at 1-1 about 15 minutes in, fell behind 3-1 by halftime, then came back within one point early in the second period before Gatti netted her third goal of the day for Lawrenceville, which was seeing its first action of the 2012 campaign.

Lions head coach Jerry Hartey was not dissatisfied with his team’s effort, regarding Lawrenceville as a stronger opponent than a Friends Central squad that had drubbed the local booters, 5-1, in the season opener two days before.

McCool’s ninth-grade classmate, Lisa Burckhardt, scored the goal that saved the Lions from a shut-out against FC, and the offensive output from varsity rookies is certainly welcome as SCH looks to replace some points lost by the graduation of the high-scoring Kelsey Chapman.

Last year’s starting goalie, Alexis Giovinazzo, was also a senior, and in the early weeks of the 2012 season three different keepers have seen action for Springside Chestnut Hill. Last weekend one of them, freshman Elsa Rall, was sidelined with a short-term injury. Junior Madi Sehn started against Lawrenceville, and senior Meredith Spann came in to play the second half.

On a transition counterattack five minutes into the game, Gatti gave the Lady Larries the opening goal of the day, but the early lead only held up for five minutes. In a race to the 18 yard line at the visitors’ end, a hard-charging McCool was able to get off a successful shot for the Lions just before Lawrenceville defender Alan Cook reached her.

The visitors went ahead for good with 22:30 left in the opening half, when junior Nelly Spigner nudged the Lady Larries ahead, 2-1. In the Lions’ cage, Sehn had to make a diving save to deny Gatti a second goal (at least for the time being), and at the opposite end a promising corner kick for SCH was headed out of danger by the defenders.

With six ticks to go in the first frame, Gatti carried the ball into the middle of the box, dribbled towards the left post to draw Sehn over, and then shot the ball across into the right side of the cage. In the final seconds a short corner play by the Lions didn’t produce a shot, and the count was still 3-1 at the interlude.

Apparently energized by Coach Hartey’s halftime talk, the Lions came out and cut their deficit to a single goal six minutes into the new period, with McCool once more doing the honors.

Lawrenceville came back down the field to earn a corner kick from the left side, but SCH sophomore midfielder Sinead Brierley got to the ball and cleared it out of the box. The Lady Larries’ quest for an insurance goal succeeded with 23 minutes remaining in the match, and Gatti came away with a hat trick for the afternoon.

As the game entered its final 15 minutes, Lions junior Katelyn Jackson attacked into the left side of the box, but her shot was saved by visiting goalie Sophia Lattanzio, a sophomore who later tipped another SCH shot wide of the cage. Springside Chestnut Hill’s last best hope came on a corner kick from the right put in play by junior Julia Schumacher. The Lady Larries headed that ball out of the box, though, helping preserve their two-goal edge.

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