Mount St. Joseph Academy's soccer team moved up to the .500 mark last Monday, getting back to 4-4 overall by completing a season sweep of Merion Mercy Academy.
Mount St. Joseph Academy's soccer team moved up to the .500 mark last Monday, getting back to 4-4 overall by completing a season sweep of Merion Mercy Academy. The Magic had won 4-2 at Merion earlier in September, and they turned in a convincing 4-0 final the second time around.
The scorers, in order, were juniors Elizabeth Scheffey, Grace Kussay, Meg Kelemick and Sophia D'Alanzo. For the shut-out in goal, senior starter Sam Ammons made three saves in 63 minutes, and junior reserve keeper Giana Argano played the rest of the way and recorded one save.
"We had a couple tough outings early, but I think we're getting into our rhythm now," said head coach Dave McCauley, referring to league losses to Gwynedd Mercy, Nazareth Academy, and Villa Maria. "We're making big progress coming together as a team."
McCauley coached the team in 2020 along with MSJ alum Lisa Roman (Mount '13, Marquette University '17). Roman, a multimedia journalist and producer who has worked with ESPN and CBS sports, has to travel a good deal for her "day job" and she decided to forego coaching this fall.
From the time of the first contest against Merion Mercy up to last week's rematch, it appeared that the Mount St. Joe defense has stepped up its game.
Heaping high praise on the players in the back, McCauley said that the club has altered its defensive alignment so that the original center back, skillful senior Anna Shields, was joined by a second player in the middle, speedy sophomore Julia Brandon.
"I also have top notch wingbacks," said McCauley, commending senior Kate Vyzaniarius and sophomore Maggie Rezza (Rezza earned a starting role on the Mount lacrosse team as a freshman last spring).
The Magic mentor noted that the team's lynchpin in the midfield is junior center mid Kate Donovan.
"She's a rock," he stated.
Last Monday Merion made a few attacks in the opening minutes. The first serious threat by the Mount came about seven minutes in, when senior Katie McGovern advanced the ball through the midfield and junior Meghan Hughes got off a shot that strayed wide to the right.
A little later, senior Kate Kelly sent in a corner kick from the right, and the Mounties in front of the goal came close to bodying the ball across the line before Merion as able to clear it. Next, Hughes delivered the ball to the middle from out on the right wing, leading to a shot by McGovern that went straight to the goalkeeper's belly.
With the clock showing 21 minutes remaining in the first half, the Magic attacked up the left side. Scheffey launched what looked like a centering pass from out along the endline, but no one touched the ball closer to the cage and it ended up going in the right side of the goal.
This proved to be the game-winner, and the Mount's first insurance goal was added with 6:33 to go in the first period. A row of Mount attackers moved across the Merion 18, and Kussay buried a hard shot from the middle of the box.
The second half saw the Mount firmly in control of the action. Just over 10 minutes in, the tally rose to 3-0 with a close-range shot by Kelemick in front of the goal. Another Mount attempt hit the Golden Bears' crossbar about seven minutes later.
Coach McCauley was able to use a lot of his reserves as the game wound down, and with 17 minutes left he send in Argano to replace Ammons in the goal cage.
The 4-0 final score went up on the board with 2:09 remaining, as D'Alanzo became the fourth Mount scorer of the afternoon.
"The goals have been spread around for us," noted McCauley. "Our strength this year is that we're not relying on one or two people; our goals are coming from everywhere."