Back from spring break, the Penn Charter girls earned their first victory in the Inter-Ac League lacrosse competition last Tuesday.
Back from spring break, the Penn Charter girls earned their first victory in the Inter-Ac League lacrosse competition last Tuesday, traveling to the Academy of Notre Dame to secure a 17-11 win.
While the Quakers commanded a 10-5 lead at halftime, the host Irish never went away entirely; two straight goals got them within four of the leaders with four minutes left in the high-scoring bout before PC put away the last two goals in the final 72 seconds.
Penn Charter, which has played challenging opponents both in and outside of the league, emerged with a record of 4-6, 1-2. Before spring break the team opened Inter-Ac play with a 9-8 setback against Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. The Quakers had hoped to hang with defending league champ Episcopal Academy in an April 6 meeting, but eighth-year head coach Colleen Kelly related that this became unfeasible as her team racked up 26 turnovers. The Quakers fell, 13-5.
Against Notre Dame Aditi Foster, a junior transfer from Upper Dublin High School, paced the offense with six goals, while Drexel University signee Bea Buckley had a hat trick and two assists. Senior center Gracie Shoup (Ohio State) scored three goals, handed out a team-high five assists, and won three draws.
Also in the center circle, senior Alex Glomb captured six draws to go with her two goals, while freshman Molly Dougherty won three draws and earned an assist. Two other ninth-graders, Ava Diaz and Harbor Campbell, each scored one goal, as did junior Grace Walter.
Veteran senior goalie Kayla Joyce (Davidson University) made 10 saves before she was injured (not seriously) with 18:28 remaining in the second half, with the score 12-6. Junior Toni Plunkett subbed in and made five saves the rest of the way.
The 2022 Penn Charter team, which was Pa. Independent Schools tournament champion and the Inter-Ac runner-up graduated 10 players, many of whom have now joined top college programs. PC's Kelly noted that she and assistant coach Debbie White (a former head coach at the school) had worked with many members of that group since they were eighth-graders.
She said, "This year it's an exciting new group, and we've challenged them hard with top non-league competition. We battled in all of them; we just need to figure out the missing pieces."
Last Tuesday Notre Dame's Maeve Seeger opened the scoring with just over two minutes gone, then PC's Foster put in back-to-back goals. Six minutes in, Cate Fox tied it for the Irish at 2-2, but less than two minutes later a Glomb goal off of a free position touched off a string of Charter goals that gave the visitors a 7-2 lead.
With seven minutes left in the half, the second of two consecutive AND goals closed up the score to 7-4. Until the contest concluded, the Quakers couldn't feel they had completely mastered the Irish.
"It shows that we need to keep working so that we can execute better in the games," Coach Kelly said. "We don't finish plays as often as I want to. We'll make the stop and then not get the ground ball, that sort of thing."
Notre Dame didn't get any closer in the first half, and to complete a 3-1 Penn Charter push in the last seven minutes Shoup scored with 17 seconds left to fix the score at 10-5 for the intermission.
Throughout the second half, the Penn Charter lead ranged between six and four points. Acquiring three yellow cards, the Quakers were one card away from being one player short for the duration.
Kelly commented, "That's just defensive fundamentals, like moving our feet instead of reaching with our sticks and getting fouls."
When the starter in goal, Joyce, got hurt, the Quakers had to adjust and they did, supporting their reserve keeper.
Looking at the league going forward, it appears that in addition to the current leaders, Episcopal and Agnes Irwin, there are several strong teams with a fairly equal distribution of talent. For a given team to succeed they must be ready to battle every time out, and that can be a challenge for a rebuilding squad like PC.
Kelly said, "We're sometimes ready to play, but not all the time, and that's something we need to improve, game by game."