The girls of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy remained unbeaten in Inter-Ac League soccer last week, but it took an overtime goal.
The girls of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy remained unbeaten in Inter-Ac League soccer last week, but in Thursday afternoon's home game it took an overtime goal to push the Blue Devils past the Episcopal Academy Churchwomen, 1-0.
Toward the end of the first of two five-minute OT periods (in the Inter-Ac these are played in full, with no golden goal), Maryland-bound senior Lisa McIntyre scored off an assist from classmate Abby Kenkelen to raise the team's league record to 4-0.
The Blue Devils had started the league campaign the previous week with victories over Agnes Irwin (3-0) and Penn Charter (3-1), and through a scheduling quirk they played Germantown Academy just a day before last week's Episcopal match. SCH won this game on the road, 2-0, on goals by seniors Lanie Franklin and Mary Trudeau.
Episcopal arrived at SCH last week with a 2-0 record in the league that reflected victories over Baldwin School (4-0) and GA (4-1).
After Thursday's home game, Blue Devils head coach Maria Kosmin commented, "We knew Episcopal was strong and plays great soccer and matches up well against us. They're fast and they're not easy to defend. Our back four had their hands full, so I was happy to get another shutout. We played the day before, but we have enough depth so we usually can get fresh legs on the field when we need them."
With the EA outcome, Springside Chestnut Hill arrived in double digits in the win column, at 10-1. The Devils had started the season rankled sixth in a major national pre-season poll, so they've had a target on their backs from the get-go. Their lone loss came on September 17 at Conestoga High School by a 1-0 score.
Trudeau, a player whose absence is felt all over the field, could not perform in that game due to a family commitment. She's a defensive midfielder who can also come up to score, particularly in clutch situations. In the Blue Devils' only tie in their undefeated 2021 season, they fell behind Pennington School, 2-0. They got on the board, but still appeared headed for defeat until Trudeau tied the match with 24 seconds remaining in regulation.
Episcopal had an important player missing at Springside last Thursday. Quinn Whitaker, a freshman standout in 2021, had not yet played this fall due to injury.
Six minutes into last Thursday's contest, an SCH corner kick from the left sent the ball through the EA box untouched. A number of times later on, SCH corners and also crosses in real-time play drove the ball across the front of the goal without anyone sealing off the play on the weak side.
Episcopal had the ball in the Blue Devils' box about 10 minutes in, but after several touches it ended up in the hands of senior goalie Ellie Stratz. A little later, a shot by SCH junior Abby Udowenko missed near the top right corner, and a direct kick by senior Bella Brown travelled into the arms of Maya Naimoli, the senior goalkeeper for the Churchwomen.
Both sides continued to have opportunities on offense. Just past the midpoint of the first half, Episcopal had the ball bouncing around dangerously in the Springside box, but Stratz eventually secured it.
With around a dozen minutes left, the Blue Devils brought the ball down the right wing and switched it over to McIntyre on the left, resulting in a shot that rose over the visitors' crossbar. It was still 0-0 at halftime.
Even against teams that know very well how her squad plays, SCH's Kosmin doesn't make major changes.
"We may move some people around, or tell them things, like at halftime today, maybe don't look too short," she said. "We try not to make a lot of adjustments. I think what we do, we do really well, and that's keep the ball, be patient, and play good soccer. I have confidence in the abilities of our players."
As usual, the Blue Devils changed goalkeepers for the second half, sending in sophomore Gracyn Lee-Torchiana. Her teammates seized the initiative on offense as the second period got underway, but the first viable shot went straight to EA's Naimoli.
Attacking in the other direction in transition, the Churchwomen put a little too much pace on a through pass, and Torchiana gobbled up the ball. The next sorties by the two offenses each ended up with the ball in the hands of the opposing goalie.
After a visiting player received a yellow card, EA weathered an SCH corner kick without difficulty. With 10 minutes on the clock, Brown made a nice cross through the box from right to left, but the Blue Devils didn't get a touch at the far post.
"We cross the ball well," Coach Kosmin said, "but with these teams that know us pretty well, we need to work to make sure we have people on the end of that."
A ball blooped toward the Devils' goal by the Churchwomen bounced off the top of the crossbar, and before long the teams headed into overtime with a pair of zeroes still on the scoreboard.
Springside attacked aggressively at the start of the first overtime stint, and after EA's Naimoli lost her handle on a ball in the box she had to scramble to get it back. Midway through the first OT, McIntyre drove a free kick from the right side through the box, but again the Blue Devils had no one in a good spot for a shot.
They kept attacking, and from out on the left endline senior Julia Thomson directed the ball toward the near post. Kenkelen was stationed there and she deftly flicked the ball in the air across the mouth of the goal. This time SCH had someone moving to the right spot at the right moment; McIntyre finished the play with 1:21 to go in the first OT.
With no golden goal in the Inter-Ac rules, another six minutes of soccer was played, and SCH was in control most of the time. The Blue Devils came away with a hard fought 1-0 victory.
"For most of the game we could've had more chances in the box, but then in overtime you saw our energy level pick up," Kosmin remarked. "This may be the first time this year that I saw the fight and the grit in them. It was fun to watch."