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  October 2, 2008 Issue                                       

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Early PC goal dooms Springside booters
by TOM UTESCHER

Springside’s Courtney Caputo. (Photo by Jimmy J. Pack Jr.)

Socking away the eventual game-winning goal less than two minutes into last Tuesday’s Girls’ Inter-Ac League soccer game, host Penn Charter tacked on one insurance point later in the first half and acquired another in the second period for a 3-0 victory against the visiting Springside Lions.

Senior Laura Kurash deposited the first goal and played a role in the other two scoring plays for the Quakers, who forged into winning territory in the league, at 2-1, and improved their overall mark to 5-2. Senior goalie Liz Carpino made five saves for her shutout, while a fellow upperclassman, Springside’s Tori Baggio, saved 10 shots on the day.

In previous league action, Charter had beaten Baldwin and lost to Notre Dame, while Springside (0-3, 2-6-1) bowed to Episcopal and Agnes Irwin. For Tuesday’s tilt, each team had a starting senior defender out sick: Liz Thom for the Quakers and Mary Trocky for the Lions.

Some of the wind slipped out of Springside’s sails with just 1:55 elapsed in the game, after Charter junior Natasha Prentice sent a long cross into the box from the left wing. The Quakers’ initial shot by sophomore Blaine Steinberg was blocked by the Lions’ Baggio, but Kurash closed in to score off the rebound.

“Natasha is a big weapon for us,” said Quakers coach Eddie Mensah, “and when her services are on, we’re very potent. We started the season with her playing in the middle of the field, but the last couple of games we decided to put her in the back.”

After PC’s initial strike, Springside’s Baggio made a diving stop on a longer shot, and then repelled subsequent attempts by several Quakers, including Kurash, junior Linnea Cripe, and sophomore Kyle Bonus. Later on, a ball drifting ominously through the Lions’ penalty area was cleared out of danger by Springside junior Courtney Caputo.

On offense, Springside had earned a free kick from a bit outside the PC 18, but the lob on the restart was headed away by PC’s Prentice, who was playing back as a sweeper. Sophomore Riley Tarver of the Lions sent a pass across the front of the Quakers’ goal, but none of her teammates were in position to get a foot on the ball.

Later in the first half, a run down the right wing by freshman Kelsey Chapman was halted by Charter senior back Kate Krieger, and a shot by Springside sophomore Natalie Bates traveled directly to Carpino, the Quakers’ keeper.

With 6:51 remaining in the opening period Penn Charter assumed a 2-0 advantage as junior Michele Drossner made good off of a Kurash corner kick served in from the left.

As round two got underway, Baggio saved a strong shot by PC junior Mara Congdon, and at the other end Lions’ junior forward Larissa Sfedu charged after a through ball into the Quakers’ penalty area, only to have Carpino rush out and beat her to the ball.

Baggio turned away outside shots by Congdon and Steinberg of the Quakers, but the home team would find the net one last time, with 22:40 remaining in the contest. On a Quaker corner from the right, the ball was kicked into the box, but was cleared back out to the same side. Kurash lofted it into the penalty area once more, finding sophomore Amma Ntoso on the far side. Ntoso settled the ball and then fired in the final goal of the day.

Penn Charter is playing all of its varsity games on a newly reconditioned field across School House Lane from the academic campus, and it’s a larger pitch than the Quakers’ former home venue.

“We’ve been talking to the girls about using this space and stretching the other teams out so we can work on our passing game,” Mensah related. “We try to make the ball do the work by making good long passes. If we get the other teams spread out and have them chasing the ball all around, they get tired in the second half.”

While most of the assaults by the Charter offense were well coordinated, the Springside attack suffered from a lack of communication – a chronic problem. Only Baggio and Caputo did much talking on the field, and that’s not enough. Opportunities were lost because the Lions often didn’t know where to move with the ball, or where to move without it. There are some talented players on the roster, but if they’re going their separate ways most of the time, Springside will enjoy only limited success as a team.