by Tom Utescher
On Tuesday, March 19, Winter met Summer at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, and it had nothing to with the approaching vernal equinox.
In a lacrosse scrimmage between two area teams, the roster for the host SCH Blue Devils included Winter Chernak, while another 11th-grader, Summer Thomas, arrived with the visiting Magic of Mount St. Joseph Academy.
Name games aside, the encounter on the field was observed with great interest by the rookie head coaches for the two schools, Lindsey Colferai for the Mount (Temple ’10) and Allison Thomas for SCH (Lehigh ’11).
With one of the strongest senior classes in the history of its lacrosse program, Mount St. Joe broke open what was a 2-1 contest by scoring six of the next seven goals. The Blue Devils challenged the Mounties, but the Magic remained in control, leading 10-5 at the half and winding up with an eight-goal final margin, at 18-10.
The Mount’s appearance at an Upper Dublin High School playday three days earlier had been called off due to bad weather, and new coach Colferai said, “I’ve been really looking forward to seeing the girls play against somebody other than themselves [in practice]. They did really well and they played with a lot of control; they knew when to push it and they knew when to settle the ball. I hadn’t given them many plays yet, because I wanted to observe their tendencies and get a gauge on them.”
In another trial run, Springside Chestnut Hill had edged Abington High School, 11-10, the previous week. After the Mount scrimmage, the new SCH skipper, Thomas, noted, “We were able to see a lot of what we needed to work on. We could’ve played together more as a team. We let them get on a scoring run pretty quickly, and we usually play defense a lot better than that. We definitely need more work on stopping the fast break.”
Colferai revealed, “I wanted us to push the ball early and get a lead, so that then we could slow down a little bit and see what the set offense looked like.”
After goals from six different players put the Magic up 8-2 midway through the first half, the Blue Devils called a time-out and then returned to the turf to notch three straight goals.
“I got a little knot in my stomach watching that,” said MSJ’s Colferai, “but we responded well. We regained the momentum without getting all wild; we stayed composed and did what we needed to do.”
The visitors scored the last two goals of the first half and also the first two of the second period. After attaining an 18-7 lead, the Magic called time-out with 10:37 remaining. At this stage both squads shuffled their line-ups a bit and used more of their reserves, although they both had been subbing freely for much of the afternoon.
Thomas said that when she took the helm of the SCH program, “We tried to schedule tougher non-league teams so that we’ll be more prepared for the Inter-Ac schedule. We can honestly tell the girls that they’re playing against really good competition, instead of beating weak teams and then getting a shock when we start the league games.”
Although each team has seven experienced seniors on the roster, the two coaches were particularly encouraged by the offensive prowess shown by their younger players. Together, they actually accounted for more goals than the seniors, on each side.
The Magic marked down a total of eight goals for seniors Dominique Nyzio (four), Marley Breslin (two), Emilee Ehret and Olivia Gannon. The other 10 came from sophomore Christie Mischler (five), junior Natalie Bohner (two), and freshmen M.K. Maloney (two) and Isabella Balcer.
Kitty Morrissey accounted for all four of the senior strikes for the Blue Devils, while freshmen Mikaela Watson and Megan McCool scored three and two goals, respectively, and sophomore Sinead Brierley put in one.
The Magic’s Colferai commented, “Our seniors were very unselfish and gave the younger girls a lot of opportunities to get involved. After the game they were very excited about how well the underclassmen played. I wanted to see how our freshmen would respond to pressure, and I was very happy with what I saw.”
SCH’s Thomas expressed similar sentiments, saying “Our freshmen have been playing very well and confidently, and they really don’t look like freshmen out there. I’m also impressed on defense with Gianna Pownall, who is a senior but who never picked up a lacrosse stick until a few weeks ago. She has really been able to apply the defensive principles she knows from basketball [Pownall was a first team All-Inter-Ac selection) out on the lacrosse field.”
Following the Mount encounter, SCH scrimmaged PIAA powerhouse Radnor High School. The Red Raiders are coached by Brooke Fritz, former head coach at the old Springside School. Visiting Radnor did not bring along all of its first-string players, which helped level the playing field for the Blue Devils.
“It was a confidence-builder, which was important for us,” Thomas related. “A lot of people were scoring, and we were able to try people out at different positions and to experiment with different combinations of players.”
Despite the Mount’s success in the Tuesday trip to SCH, Colferai still saw things that need a little tweaking.
“It’s mostly a question of building on what we’re already doing well,” she said. “The defense was very solid, but I want to tighten it up a little more and deny cuts a little better. I want more pressure on the ballcarrier, so that our defense dictates what the opposing offense does.”
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