by Tom Utescher
The first time the girls from Penn Charter and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy met on the lacrosse field this spring, PC got out to an early lead and was up 8-1 at halftime. The SCH Blue Devils rallied in the second half to make a game of it, although the host Quakers won the April 5 contest, 10-7.
On the last day of April, the rematch between the teams followed a somewhat similar scenario, up to a point. PC once again jumped in front and led at halftime, this time by a more modest four-goal margin. SCH, the home team this time, scored the first two goals of the second period to draw within two points of PC, at 8-6.
The rest of the way, the plot took a different turn from the storyline in the first game, as Charter responded with seven straight goals while shutting down the Devils the rest of the way for a 15-6 victory.
“Today we did a good job of getting ahead and then not changing the way we play when we went up by a few goals,” said PC head coach Colleen Magarity. “We kept our foot on the gas instead of just playing not to lose.”
It was a change the coach was hoping to see after a non-league setback three days earlier, when the Quakers lost after leading Bishop Shanahan at halftime.
“We’ve been getting ahead in some games and not playing well with the lead,” she noted. “We did that on Saturday, and Shanahan came back and beat us. We told the girls that we need to figure what kind of team Penn Charter is going to be. We definitely don’t want to be known for being inconsistent, and it was nice to see us put together a complete game today.”
Young players excelled on the offensive end as PC received four goals apiece from sophomore Kaylee Dyer and freshman Darcy Felter, and SCH had freshman CeCe Reilly record a hat trick.
Junior Leah Sax scored three goals for the winners and her classmate Hayley Hunt made 10 saves in goal as PC improved to 3-5 within the Inter-Ac League and 8-8 overall.
SCH slipped to 7-8 overall and 2-5 in the league despite 14 saves from senior goalkeeper Delaney Sweitzer.
“Give credit to Penn Charter; they were ‘on’ today and they played a really nice game,” commented SCH head coach Noelle Powell. “I thought we went out there ready to play, but the chips just didn’t fall for us today, and it seemed like Penn Charter was there to capitalize on every mistake we made.”
PC got on the board a little over three minutes into the game, when SCH’s Sweitzer stopped a high shot but Charter’s Sax quick-sticked the rebound out of the air to score. Less than 30 seconds later the Quakers were up 2-0 when senior Emma Wilson sent a pass inside to Felter for the freshman’s first marker.
Felter then assisted on a goal by her classmate Charlotte Hodgson, and when Dyer drove in to score a little later, the visitors led 4-0 less than eight minutes into the action.
With a nice fake and dodge in front of the PC goal, Reilly got the Blue Devils going with 15-and-a-half minutes remaining in the first half, and two minutes later she scored again with an assist from junior Dakota Carter. The count climbed to 5-3 as Dyer bounced in a free-position shot and sophomore Ashley Lynch answered for SCH thanks to an assist from senior Riley Redpath.
Back-to-back strikes by Felter lifted the Quakers to a 7-3 lead, and SCH called a timeout with 5:35 to go until halftime.
Just 25 seconds after play resumed Reilly completed a hat trick for the home team, converting off of a feed from senior Savannah Sweitzer (twin sister of Delaney).
The Blue Devils would’ve gotten their deficit down to two goals if not for a nice save by Hunt in the Quakers’ cage, and with four minutes remaining in the opening period SCH was left shorthanded by a penalty. Although the Devils’ offensive momentum was gone, they kept the score at 7-4 as Sweitzer saved two shots by Charter while the penalty was being served.
It looked like the half might expire with the ball up in the Blue Devils’ offensive end, but they turned it over and the Quakers’ Dyer gained possession. She sped two-thirds the length of the field to score with just nine seconds on the clock, and it was 8-4 at the break.
The visitors’ advantage was quickly cut in half as the second half got underway. Carter scored for SCH just 77 seconds into the period, and with 19:13 remaining Savannah Sweitzer isolated on a defender and closed the score up to 8-6 for the Blue Devils.
Although PC skipper Magarity could not have known that SCH would not score again in the game, she decided to leave it up to her players to respond to the Blue Devils’ challenge early in the second half.
“Instead of me calling a timeout, I wanted them to regenerate some energy themselves out on the field,” she explained. “They pulled together and picked it back up.”
With 17:39 on the clock, Felter deposited the visitors’ first goal of the period. Soon after that, Delaney Sweitzer stopped a shot by the Quakers’ Dyer, but SCH made a bad pass in the midfield which led to Charter freshman Maddie Shoop romping down to score.
That made it 10-6 with 16:21 remaining, and PC would add three more goals over the next five minutes. Dyer, Sax and junior Vanessa Ewing all cashed in on free-position opportunities.
Instead of vigorously pursuing the ball when the Quakers had it up on offense, the SCH defense seemed to sit back and not play with a sense of urgency. Fouls and penalties helped worsen their plight.
“We had some yellow cards and other calls that didn’t go our way,” coach Powell said. “We let our emotions take over at times, and when we lost our focus a little bit, Penn Charter was ready to take over.”
The scoreboard took a breather for a spell with the tally at 13-6, then Sax scored with six minutes left and Hodgson set the final score at 15-6 with 2:21 remaining. In the final minute it looked like SCH would get in one last goal, but the Quakers’ Hunt foiled an attempt by Blue Devils senior Kianah Watson.
Magarity credited a rotation of five defenders for helping out in front of her junior goalie; seniors Emma Maley and Molly Visco, junior Mackenzie McDonough, sophomore Ava Coyle and freshman Grace Turner.
Overall, the coach said, “We’re young, but we have depth – we have a lot of legs. We also have a lot of threats on offense, and it makes it hard for other teams when you have players who can score from all over the field.”