Playing Inter-Ac League soccer games last week, the girls of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy came away with a win and a tie.
Playing Inter-Ac League soccer games in the afternoon and in the evening at their home field last week, the girls of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy came away with a win and a tie that were each significant in their own right.
On Tuesday the Blue Devils ground out a 2-1 victory against a Penn Charter squad that had a rocky start in the league campaign but had been playing much better recently. That contest took place on Tuesday afternoon, and on Friday night SCH took on Episcopal Academy under the lights - lights that had been rented and set up in the school's Maguire Stadium.
In another league game last Tuesday, a victory over Germantown Academy had allowed Episcopal to clinch the 2023 Inter-Ac title by reaching a record of 10-0. Two games remained for the Churchwomen, but their lead in the league standings was now insurmountable.
Defending champion Springside Chestnut Hill, which had graduated 13 players and had two new sophomores and eight freshmen appear on this year's roster, had lost 2-0 to Episcopal in their first game this fall.
In Friday's rematch, the Blue Devils struck first, but EA scored twice before halftime to take over the lead. SCH tied the match in the eighth minute of the second half, and the 2-2 tie held up through the remainder of the period and through a 10-minute overtime.
Previously, the Churchwomen had given up just one goal overall in 10 Inter-Ac games (in a 3-1 win over Notre Dame). Their only losses had come against Maryland's McDonogh School (2-0) and Pennington School in New Jersey (2-1).
Last Tuesday's opponent for SCH, Penn Charter, had fallen to the Blue Devils, 3-0, in a late-September meeting at PC, but had played Episcopal tough in a pair of 1-0 losses. In addition, Charter achieved a split in its two games against second-place Agnes Irwin, a team that took two 1-0 decisions from the Blue Devils.
Last Tuesday SCH attacked immediately, and in the first minute the hosts crossed the ball from the right endline and saw it swallowed up by PC’s senior goalie, Maia Kafer.
Charter sophomore Lauren Bucksar showed good speed going up the left wing on a rush, but the Quakers didn’t get into the SCH box.
Back down on offense, the Blue Devils scored their first goal with 33:55 remaining in the first half. Freshman Ryleigh Bakley ran onto the ball high out in the middle of the box, settled it, and shot into the right side of the cage as a leap by PC’s Kafer came up short.
Bakley put another strong shot on goal about seven minutes later, but this time the Quakers' keeper made the save.
Just past the midpoint of the first half the SCH goalie, junior Gracyn Lee-Torchiana, deflected an outside shot by visiting senior Haley Lewinski. PC continued to go after the tying goal and got it with 17:27 remaining in the first half. Junior Tristan Raymond took the ball to the endline and sent it across the mouth of the goal, and freshman Ally Bradby came in at the far post to put the ball away.
Springside attacked immediately and earned a corner kick on the right, but couldn’t get off a shot. After the Blue Devils’ Lee-Torchiana caught a long ball served in at her, the hosts went back up on offense with under six minutes remaining in the first period. Freshman Cali Smith got the ball behind PC’s Kafer, who had come out into the middle of the box, but a foul was called on SCH and soon the half ended with a 1-1 tie.
SCH grew increasingly active on offense in the second half, but only one shot made it into the Quakers' cage. In the early minutes, Blue Devils freshman Deus Stanislas and junior Lida Goloveyko each had shots miss the upper right corner, and then PC's Kafer dashed over to the right post to foil an attempt by freshman Izzy Shimaku.
When Kafer came out of the cage to counter a charge by Stanislas a dozen minutes into the period, the SCH freshman eluded her but then fired the ball up over the crossbar. With 21:16 remaining in the second half, the game-winner was scored by Stanislas, who let loose from high in the right side of the box and saw the ball find a path between players from both teams closer to the goal.
The Blue Devils now had the potential winner, but couldn't secure an insurance goal. PC almost provided one itself, with a back almost scoring an own-goal in an effort to tap the ball back to Kafer. Just before that, the Devils' Smith sent a blast over the top of the cage, and Bakley also aimed high a little later.
After Stanislas and junior Zarin DeVeaux came close to scoring in the waning minutes of the match, a late corner kick by the Devils bore no fruit, and the bout ended at 2-1. SCH still had to cope with one loss; senior defender Alex Reilly took a knock to the head and was put in concussion protocol, which meant missing the Episcopal game.
In Friday's game under the lights, visiting EA made the initial offensive thrusts. A corner kick was headed away by the Blue Devils' Smith, and when the Churchwomen served the ball back inside, goalkeeper Lee-Torchiana grabbed it near the left post.
It was SCH that got on the board first, eight minutes and 39 seconds in. From the center of the field Goloveyko passed the ball out to the left wing for Bakley, and with several defenders closing in the freshman booted the ball over into the far side of the net.
Episcopal attacked with determination after that, with charges up the right wing often led by speedster Maya Bright, a member of EA's very talented junior class. On one of her dashes, Bright brought the ball in along the right border of the box and dished it inside, where her classmate Quinn Whitaker put away the tying goal with 27:30 remaining in the first half.
Whitaker, a hand-and-foot lefty who has made a verbal commitment to play lacrosse at Boston College, scored a second goal in a similar manner roughly 10 minutes later, and the visitors still led 2-1 at halftime.
Six minutes into the second period, the Blue Devils' Smith missed the upper left corner with a shot, but she would find the target a little later. Bakley dribbled the ball down the right sideline and got off a strong diagonal cross. The ball travelled past the far post and seemed headed out of bounds, but Smith ran it down near the endline and delivered a sharply-angled shot across the mouth of the goal and into the far side of the cage. With 32:14 still to go in the second half, the game's final score was up in lights.
Seven minutes later, Bright had a chance to move the Churchwomen back in front, but her aim was off. At the other end SCH's Jolie Kaoma, also an 11th-grader, launched an outshot which hit the EA crossbar. Freshman Alex de Beaulac made a sortie up the right wing and fired a ball that was swallowed up by Episcopal goalie Lauren Creamer, and with eight minutes to go in regulation play Bakley sent the ball a little outside the top right corner of the cage.
After a corner kick from the right, the Churchwomen had the ball bounce down off the crossbar and behind Lee-Torchiana, but the Blue Devils somehow managed to keep it out of the goal.
The match proceeded into overtime, and in the first of the two five-minute segments (played in full with no "golden goal"), the best scoring chance was quashed when Lee-Torchiana went to her knees in front of the middle of the goal to stop a strong EA drive.
In the second OT, a corner by the Churchwomen yielded no shot, and in the last half-minute calls from the EA sideline for a whistle on a perceived trip in the SCH box went unheeded. The visitors' last shot lifted over the crossbar, and the affair ended in a 2-2 tie.
It would be difficult not to admire the dedication and the craft of the relatively young SCH squad. Freshmen Penny Rice and Ella Thomson gave it their all, like each of their classmates mentioned above. Junior Zarin DeVeaux and sophomore Jill Major were always ready to contribute valuable minutes, and Goloveyko and Kaoma were tireless, sprinting up and down the field to aid the offense or to contain the Churchwomen on defense. Another 11th-grader, goalie Lee-Torchiana, has come into her own as a starter this year.
Abby Udowenko and Brynn Donohue were the senior stalwarts on offense and defense, respectively, and even from the sideline, Reilly proved a leader.
With so many graduation losses from 2022, this Springside season may be looked at as a "rebuilding" year, but it sure is fun to watch.