“Keep your chin up!” GFS sophomore Greta Meyer (right) fends off Little Flower’s Ursula Coyle in a battle for ball possession during last Tuesday’s match. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

As a pair of evenly-matched girls soccer squads flowed back and forth on the Germantown Friends School field, it looked as though the outcome of last Tuesday’s non-league contest was not going to be decided in regulation time. However, with less than five minutes remaining in the second half, Little Flower Catholic High School finally penetrated the Tigers’ cage, and the Sentinels took home a 1-0 victory that evened up their season record at 2-2.

The GFS booters came away still looking for their first win of 2012, but they’d been close, tying St. Andrew’s School, 1-1, in the Delaware road trip that opened their 2012 season the previous Saturday.

The Tigers’ new skipper, Adrian Cox, was formerly head coach of both the boys’ varsity team at Episocpal Academy, and the men’s team at Immaculata Univerisity.

“We seem to have a good balance of talent around the field, although as a first-year coach I’m still learning about the players,” he observed following last Tuesday’s tilt. “They have a strong work ethic and a good positive attitude, and they’re very coachable.”

The four seniors who graduated from the 2011 GFS team included superb all-round athlete Iris Williamson and top defender Alex Clarke. In addition, two underclassmen who were on the Tigers’ varsity roster last fall did not come out for soccer this year.

Out of necessity, GFS has young players in several midfield and forward positions, but the Tigers have some of their most experienced athletes back on defense, and that should help keep them in the running in most games.

Junior goalie Caroline Myran is back as a third-year varsity player, and stationed immediately in front of her are the only two seniors on the squad, co-captains Sophie Mercuris and Katherine Waldren. They frequently could be heard giving direction to younger teammates in last Tuesday’s contest.

There is also some continuity in the coaching staff, with David Christianson returning as an assistant coach for the Tigers. A new addition to the management team (aside from Cox) is Rachel Bradburd, an erstwhile Dickinson College athlete who now teaches Spanish at GFS. Bradburd is quite familiar with Friends Schools League competition, being a former multi-sport athlete at Friends Central.

In the first half of last week’s Little Flower game, both teams attacked across the 18 yard line of their opponents a number of times, but no goals were forthcoming. In the midfield, GFS junior Schuyler Nissen and sophomore Greta Meyer spent a lot of time around the ball. The tally was still 0-0 at halftime.

“We’re creating scoring chances, but to make them count we just need to have better composure and control inside the 18,” Coach Cox said. “I think that’s our youth showing through a little bit, and that’ll change with experience.”

Sophomore Sophia Linguiti got off several shots in the second half and Nissen hit one just outside the left post midway through the period. There were more close calls at the other end of the field, though, and the Tigers’ Myran made several diving saves to keep the visitors off the scoreboard.

Near the end, the Sentinels finally got one, as Melissa Szelagowski brought the ball into the box from the right and fired towards the far side of the cage. Mryan leapt and got her fingertips on the ball, but it continued on into the net with 4:55 left to play.

GFS came back for a shot that was saved by the visiting keeper, and the Sentinels almost added an insurance goal when Ursula Coyle got loose on a breakaway with a little under three minutes remaining. Coming across the middle of the 18, she let her dribble get too far in front of her, and Germantown’s Myran came out to scoop up the ball.

The hosts had one last chance to level the score on a corner kick from the right, but the ball travelled across the front of the goal and out past the far post without anyone getting a firm foot on it.

UPDATE: With co-captain Mercuris netting the lone goal of the game, GFS smoothed out its season record at 1-1-1 on Saturday with a 1-0 victory over visiting Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.