PC girls lacrosse holds on against fired-up SCH squad

by Tom Utescher
Posted 5/11/21

In a league that features a double-round of head-to-head contests, a team always has a chance for redemption if it didn't fare well against a given opponent the first time out.

In girls' lacrosse …

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PC girls lacrosse holds on against fired-up SCH squad

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In a league that features a double-round of head-to-head contests, a team always has a chance for redemption if it didn't fare well against a given opponent the first time out.

In girls' lacrosse within the Inter-Ac League, both Penn Charter and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy had been undefeated when they met at PC on April 13. Penn Charter dominated, taking an 11-3 halftime lead and beating the Blue Devils, 22-6.

The teams met again last Friday, this time at SCH. Two-thirds of the way through the first half, the visiting Quakers were ahead 5-1. The scenario changed after that though.

The Blue Devils would outscore their guests 7-4 the rest of the way. They cut the Quakers' advantage to a single goal at 8-7, went down by two again, then scored with a little over two minutes to go to make it 9-8. That's the way the game ended, with Penn Charter controlling the ball in the offensive zone to run out the clock for a win.

"It's funny," said PC head coach Colleen Kelly, "we'd been practicing specifically on taking care of the ball and holding onto it, and that's what we needed to do at the end of the game today. I'm proud of my girls for executing the game plan."

She noted that in PC's first loss of the season exactly a week earlier, a late Penn Charter turnover on a clear had given Agnes Irwin the opportunity to score the winning goal.

The Quakers climbed to a record of 14-1-1 overall and 8-1 in the league with Friday's victory. SCH slipped to 6-6, 5-5.

Both teams were stingy on defense, knowing all about the main threats on the opposing side. No individual scored more than twice other than SCH senior Brooke Prochniak, whose hat trick was the game high.

"She's playing very well this season, and she was mentally and physically prepared for this game," commented SCH mentor Noelle Powell.

Powell knew her team was serious about showing it was better than it had demonstrated down at Penn Charter a few weeks earlier, but she didn't want her players to be overanxious about the rematch.

She related, "We told them to just take a breath and go out there and play a lacrosse game, like any lacrosse game. Thinking that way took some of the pressure off, and I think we got some energy from our Senior Day ceremony. Mostly, we played loose, and that always helps you."

The Devils received an inspiring effort in goal from junior Lucy Pearson, who made eight of her 13 total saves during the drama-filled second half.

"She's such a great leader, and she keeps things positive with her defenders," Powell said. "They played as a unit, working hard for each other. With the talent Penn Charter has on attack, we knew we had to stay constantly alert and keep our feet moving."

Pearson happens to play club lacrosse in the Big 4 HHH girls' program that is overseen by PC's Kelly.

"Lucy had a phenomenal game," the Quakers' coach said. "Obviously, we know her well, and she's tough to beat."

After the first five-and-a-half minutes of Friday's contest the scoreboard at SCH's Landreth Field indicated a 2-0 lead for Penn Charter,  while at the other end of the pitch, PC senior goalie Jamie Kubach (eight saves) made a save on Blue Devils freshman Alex Reilly and another SCH shot tracked above the crossbar.

The Blue Devils' Pearson made a stop to keep Charter senior Kaylee Dyer from scoring a second consecutive goal, then the hosts got on the board with 14:44 remaining in the first half. Prochniak cut toward the front of the goal from the left, and scored after receiving a short pass from junior Cece Reilly (sister of Alex) from the other side of the cage.

The Quakers answered a little over a minute later, and they would add two more goals as the clock ticked down close to eight minutes, gaining a 5-1 lead. Sophomore Beatrix Buckley began this three-goal run off a feed from junior (and Norwood Fontbonne Academy graduate) Charlotte Hodgson.

Dyer drove from out in the left flat for the next marker, then junior Maddie Shoup used a free position on the right of the arc to feed the ball across the cage and set up a goal by classmate Darcy Felter.

The Blue Devils could not afford to let their deficit grow much larger, and with just under seven minutes left in the half, Cece Reilly pocketed a pass from sophomore Emma Bradbury, then dodged a defender to score, making it 5-2.

It looked as though the Quakers would still end the half with a four-goal lead after Shoup scored with a little over five minutes remaining. However, with just 27 seconds left SCH's Prochniak set the halftime tally at 6-3 as she came from behind the cage off of a free position.

At halftime, the Blue Devils' Powell related, "We just needed to make some corrections. One thing was, we wanted to improve our transitions and how we were making our clears because we were getting caught in their ride. I said we needed to forget about the score and come out and win the second half, and we did."

Two of the eight goals scored throughout the second half were shot in the opening minute, with Shoup striking from a free position and Bradbury answering for SCH with an assist from Cece Reilly. Only a little over a minute after that, the visitors went up 8-4 when Shoup fed the ball to Hodgson knifing through the middle.

Over next 20 minutes, the Blue Devils would outscore the Quakers, 4-1. Charter turned the ball over with some careless passes, and the visitors had a little trouble reading the refs. A number of rulings by the officials were the opposite of what the Quakers anticipated.

"The calls weren't going our way," Coach Kelly said. "When we went in there expecting a call for us, it went against us, and that was a turnover or the loss of a free position."

Just as the game clock dipped below 20 minutes, PC's Kubach spurned a quick-stick shot by SCH, but the Blue Devils remained on offense and at 19:31 Bradbury converted off of a free position from the center hashmark. On another free-po for the hosts, PC defenders managed to block the ball coming out of the stick of the Devils' Alex Reilly as she tried to get off a shot.

The 8-5 count stayed on the scoreboard a while longer. With less than 13 minutes left, a PC sortie on offense ended with a strong shot that was turned aside by Pearson.

The Blue Devils came back up the field and fired a ball that struck a Penn Charter player in front of the goal, then junior Brooke Gyllenhaal scooped up the rebound and scored. PC argued for a dangerous shot violation on the first attempt, but neither that nor a shooting space call was made. It was now 8-6 with 12:15 to go.

About 40 seconds later the Quakers called time-out, then controlled the ball on attack for several minutes after they returned to the field. During this sequence, PC kept getting the rebounds of its unsuccessful shots, but when the Quakers would come back at Pearson again, she'd just make another tough save.

The ball finally went over to Springside with under nine minutes to play, and a little while later Kubach kept the visitors two goals ahead by foiling a shot by Bradbury. With the clock below six minutes, SCH made a long pass across the midfield while in transition, and Quakers senior Mia Ferraro (another Norwood alum) stretched out to intercept the ball.

Charter mustered on offense again, but when Felter tried to get off a shot from a free position, she was swarmed by defenders and forced out to the left of the goal.

With 3:23 showing on the board, Alex Reilly came at the PC goal from Kubach's left and scored, shooting across the stick of a defender. The Quakers' lead had dwindled to a single point, 8-7.

Less than a minute later, Felter blazed a trail through the SCH defense, bumping the PC lead back to two goals with 2:34 remaining. Springside seized the subsequent draw, though, and Prochniak approached the cage from the left while marked by one of the Quakers. She dodged to free herself for a shot into the top right corner, and at 2:19, the Blue Devils were once again just one goal behind.

Off the draw, Springside came up with the ball on its own side of the midfield line and started to bring it out along the left wing. Sophomore Gracie Shoup (Maddie's sister) checked the ball away and a PC teammate, junior Lauren Anderson, recovered it.

The Quakers called time-out with two minutes to go, when Kelly reiterated the same points about ball possession she'd been making in practice.

Things went well for a minute, but then the visitors made an errant pass out over the sideline with 51 ticks remaining. Pressured in transition, the Blue Devils made a sideline turnover of their own when a player receiving a pass near midfield stepped across the boundary.

Penn Charter had the ball back with 36 seconds to go, and this time the Quakers kept it until the final whistle.

Dyer, Felter, Hodgson, and Shoup were each credited with two goals for the victory, and Buckley completed the total. After Prochniak on the SCH scoresheet came Bradbury with two goals, then there were single markers for Gyllenhaal and each of the Reilly sisters.

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