SCH girls unbeaten in short soccer season

by Tom Utescher
Posted 11/25/20

Just minutes before they took the field for last Tuesday's Inter-Ac League soccer match, the girls of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy were informed that this would be their final game of the …

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SCH girls unbeaten in short soccer season

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Just minutes before they took the field for last Tuesday's Inter-Ac League soccer match, the girls of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy were informed that this would be their final game of the season.

They had been scheduled to play later in the week, in a contest that would feature a Senior Day ceremony at the Blue Devils 2020 home away from home, the Ukrainian Nationals soccer club in Horsham. Their opponent for that game pulled out though, and now Tuesday's match against visiting Episcopal Academy would serve as the SCH season swansong.

COVID quarantines had deprived the Devils of four starters and at least one reserve player, and another starter became injured during the opening period. Still, Springside Chestnut Hill was able to overcome the EA Churchwomen (down two players themselves), 2-0.

After a 12-0 run to the Inter-Ac championship in 2019, the Blue Devils ended up playing just five games this fall, all in the league. They opened with a 6-1 victory at Episcopal, and then senior goalie Julia Wilbekaitis earned shut-outs in contests against Germantown Academy (7-0), the Academy of Notre Dame (5-0), Agnes Irwin (2-0) and in last week's rematch with Episcopal. Despite missing some firepower at striker, SCH outscored its opponents 22-1.

Unfortunately, a planned meeting with strong area rival Penn Charter never took place due to a COVID quarantine situation. The PC Quakers won each of the three games they got to play, knocking off Notre Dame (5-2), GA (3-2), and EA (4-3).

SCH's Wilbekaitis, who is still mulling over her college choices, was one of four Blue Devil seniors who closed out their scholastic careers last week. The Inter-Ac MVP and team high scorer in 2019, JoJo McShane, has signed with the University of Richmond.

Defender Esther Lamb, a team tri-captain along with McShane and Wilbekaitis, is heading to Rhodes College in Memphis, and midfielder Kylie Hughes is bound for Moravian College in Bethlehem. In addition to last year's league title, the seniors were part of the SCH squad that won the program's first Pa. Independent Schools championship in 2017.

Although Episcopal performed well in certain stretches during last week's 2020 finale, SCH had the better of the play most of the afternoon and was definitely the more aggressive side.

The eventual game-winning goal went up on the scoreboard just under 10 minutes into the action, and was set up by a through pass from the left wing to the middle by junior Maya McDermott. Sophomore Bella Brown took the ball across the 18-yard line a little right of center and booted it past the advancing EA goalie, Allie Bush. McDermott earned her team-leading fifth assist on the play.

About 14 minutes later McShane almost put the Blue Devils up by two goals, but her hard shot along the ground hit the left post. The score remained 1-0 until halftime.

The Devils eventually added an insurance goal in the middle of the second half. Hughes, one of the SCH seniors, picked up an assist on the goal by junior Virginia Perry, who moved up from last year's JV squad to play with the varsity this year.

With more players missing last week due to quarantines, fifth-year SCH head coach Maria Kosmin moved up several members of the current JV team, and they blended right in with the more experienced athletes.

In the brief 2020 campaign, McShane emerged as the Blue Devils' high scorer with eight goals, while McDermott led the squad in assists, with five. Lamb, the defender, came up the pitch to score three goals.

Coach Kosmin was once again assisted by Ylber Mezani, who joined the coaching staff in 2019.

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