Sophomore Natalie Schwartz, who scored four goals for Springside Chestnut Hill last Thursday, tries to cradle under the crosse of GA freshman Alison Crump. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Sophomore Natalie Schwartz, who scored four goals for Springside Chestnut Hill last Thursday, tries to cradle under the crosse of GA freshman Alison Crump. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

For the home crowd at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, the first half of last Thursday’s girls lacrosse rematch against Germantown Academy seemed like a disturbing déjà vu experience, one that harked back to GA’s 14-6 romp over the Blue Devils in the Inter-Ac League opener back in the middle of March.

Last week, three early goals by senior Jen Stack led the visitors out to a 5-1 lead over the first nine minutes, and from there the Patriots proceeded to an 11-4 halftime advantage.

After the intermission, the game became nothing like the March meeting between the two teams. GA did win for a second time, but not before SCH pulled back within a single point, 13-12, with five-and-a-half minutes to play. The Patriots steadied themselves for the stretch run and took away a 15-13 victory, raising their record to 10-7 overall and 6-4 in league competition.

Sophomore scoring machine Betsy Prezioso pumped in half-a-dozen goals, with Stack contributing her hat trick and fellow senior Hanna Bogorowski depositing a pair. There were also single strikes by seniors Cooper Hall and Emilie Van Blarcom, junior Allie Cannon, and freshman Isabella Jacobs, while in the cage junior Allie Carrigan made 11 stops.

SCH junior Maddie Aslansan and sophomore Natalie Schwartz headed the second-half resurgence for the Blue Devils, and each finished with four goals. Junior Carlin Rode scored twice, and solo goals came from sophomore Megan McCool, freshman Taylor Ferry, and Winter Chernak, the team’s lone senior.

A number of very difficult stops on point-blank shots figured into sophomore goalkeeper Elsa Rall’s total of 18 saves for the afternoon.

“Elsa’s play today kept us in this game, for sure,” remarked Allison Thomas, who coaches the SCH squad along with Alex Kahoe. “The past couple of games she’s just been on fire.”

Still, SCH allowed GA to spend far too much time firing at Rall during the opening minutes of Thursday’s contest. The Patriots’ Prezioso broke the ice and then Stack scored in transition before Schwartz came from behind the cage at the other end to get the home team on the board. Two more markers by Stack were sandwiched around Bogorowski’s first goal to give the visitors a 5-1 advantage with 15:58 still remaining in the first half.

Over the next six-and-a-half minutes, SCH’s McCool and Aslansan found the back of the GA net to keep the Blue Devils reasonably close as the tally climbed to 6-3. Prezioso doubled the margin for Germantown, netting back-to-back goals in a 34-second span and then shooting her fourth of the day to make it 9-3 with just under five minutes left in the period.

After the Patriots put up their ninth point, SCH’s Rode came downfield off of the draw to score the hosts fourth (and final) goal of the half. The problem for the Blue Devils was that they were having trouble putting two productive plays together; a promising sequence would be followed by failed attempts to scoop up a ground ball, or an ill-advised pass that led to a turnover. It’s true that Springside Chestnut Hill was missing two of its best players, junior Sinéad Brierly and sophomore Mikaela Watson (a Stanford recruit), but many of the team’s mistakes simply involved carelessness, not an overwhelming talent deficit.

In the final minutes, Bogorowski and Jacobs rounded out the halftime score of 11-4, and the Patriots seemed firmly in command.

In the SCH huddle during the interlude, Thomas related, “We told the girls that this is not the team that we know, and it was not okay to play this way. They proved in other games that they’re better than that. There were some things that they had to sort out between them, so they kind of got into their own little huddle and tried to figure out a way to pull things back together.”

Less than 90 seconds into the new period, Aslansan drove through the GA defense to score, and right after that Ferry, one of the team’s ninth-graders, put in a bounce shot from the left side of the arc.

“I think having Taylor score got the girls excited,” Thomas said, “and then later Natalie had a great little run, and stepped up and played the way we need her to.”

GA’s Hall scooped up a ground ball near the crease and attacked the cage for the visitors’ first goal of the half, but the Blue Devils came back with strikes by Aslansan and Chernak, changing the count to 12-8 with more than 15 minutes left to play.

“I think when we went into halftime up 11-4, the girls may have eased up a bit and lost a little of their focus,” noted GA coach Ginny Hofmann. “Springside put in a few goals and became more confident, and as we told the girls, once you let the other team establish some momentum, it’s not easy to get it back.”

The Patriots’ Prezioso bounced in her fifth goal to make it 13-8 with 11 minutes left, but then SCH’s Rall, who had been making clutch saves since the period began, turned aside an attempt by Hall that would’ve had GA back up by half-a-dozen.

At the other end, Schwartz fought through multiple defenders to ring up back-to-back goals, and GA called a time-out with 8:43 remaining, still up 13-10. GA took the following draw, but eventually lost possession.

Driving to the cage again while under pressure, Schwartz was actually starting to trip as she released a low shot for her third straight goal.

From out to the right of the cage, SCH freshman Mason Rode sent a pass in to her sister, Carlin, around the near post, and the junior cashed in, making it a one-goal game (13-12) with 5:40 on the clock.

The visitors’ Bogorowski broke down the field after pocketing the next draw, but her shot was spurned by Rall. With 4:10 showing, GA’s Van Blarcom finally snapped the SCH streak, dodging her original defender outside the arc on the right, and then penetrating past several other Blue Devils to ripple the net. After another 34 seconds, Germantown reached its final total as Prezioso converted off of a feed from behind by Stack.

Springside Chestnut Hill now called a time-out, and when play resumed the draw went to the hosts’ Mason Rode. Up in the offensive sector the Blue Devils lost the ball momentarily before Aslansan snapped it up, drove straight up the middle, and then faded right to hit her shot from a sharp angle. The final score was now on the board with 3:19 on the clock.

During the earlier time-out, GA’s Hofmann related, “We wanted the girls to be aware of the game situation, that we were at the point where maintaining possession of the ball was more important than trying to score more goals. I thought they did a good job of recovering their poise and finishing out the win.”

After the final SCH goal, the Blue Devils got the ball back as Ferry seized it off the draw, but a turnover allowed GA to head up on offense, spread out, and maintain its two-point advantage until the end.