PHILADELPHIA >> As Erin O’Sullivan laid on the ground in pain with a left ankle injury, she did not realize her efforts just a few moments prior had finally broken the scoreless stalemate between the Lansdale Catholic and Archbishop Wood girls soccer teams.
“I didn’t know until Maggie Wunder and Sarah Opdyke came over to me and they’re like ‘You just saved the game,” O’Sullivan said. “I honestly didn’t know.”
O’Sullivan beat out coming Wood keeper Paige McQuillen for a loose ball in the box and with a sliding right-footed shot found the back of the net with 3:41 remaining in Tuesday night’s Philadelphia Catholic League semifinal at Archbishop Ryan. And that was enough for LC to earn a 1-0 victory and reach the league final for the first time since 2012.
“I don’t recall us getting any open shots all night, really when we took a shot someone had a foot on it, a deflection, something, there was a mob scene,” Lansdale Catholic coach Tom O’Donnell said. “I think Wood probably got two open shots all night and everything else was contested or block and then it comes down to that, where one kid put her heart out on the line for us. I mean O’Sullivan gets all the credit there, that’s a gutsy play.”
O’Sullivan could not do much celebrating after her strike, as he was picked up my teammates and carried off the field.
“I wasn’t expecting to come up so quickly and get carried off the field like that,” she said. “My teammates are always there for me.”
Postgame, the junior said her left ankle was doing better.
“It feels fine now. It hurts a little bit, but keep some ice on it,” she said.
After a mostly even first half, Wood had the better run after halftime, getting a great chance in the first minute when Paige Sellers put a header on frame but LC keeper Maura Maxwell parried it over for a corner. The Vikings had two more quality chances — the later a shot off the crossbar — but their bid to reach a third straight PCL final fell short.
“That’s the name of the game, you’ve got to put it between them posts, you’v got to put it in the back of that net,” Wood coach Bill Cappo said. “And we had some opportunities, we didn’t finish. Hey, good luck to them, they finished. That’s all it takes.”
Lansdale Catholic face three-time defending Catholic League champ Archbishop Ryan — which beat Little Flower 2-0 in the second semifinal Tuesday — in the final 4 p.m. Saturday back at Ryan. LC is looking to win its first title in its fourth final appearance since starting PCL play in 2008.
With the win, the Crusaders also edged out Wood for the PCL’s spot in the District 12-AA title game.
“Everything was swinging on this,” O’Donnell said. “So we know we’ve got the AA and now, you’re right, we live another day to still win a championship.”
O’Sullivan goals came off a free kick won in the Wood half by Kate Henesey. Lena Staropoli took the restart and delivered a ball in the box that was quickly cleared out. Sarah Opdyke, however, knocked back in, with O’Sullivan — her back to goal — flicking the ball forward into open space. in front of the goal. She then outraced McQuillen coming off her line to make it 1-0 Crusaders.
“I just know I have to go after it because there’s no one else around and I know there’s not much time left,” O’Sullivan said. “So, I just went for it and it was just me and the goalie. And I just got a touch on it.”
Before LC took the lead, the Crusaders survived a few near-misses by Wood. The Vikings pressure right after halftime on only Maxwell’s hand popping the ball over the cross bar denied a goal on a Sellers header off a cross.
“Maura had probably the save there in the second half when she parried that over,” O’Donnell said. “In the first half, she ended up picking up a loose ball that they kid was getting a shot, but as I recall Sarah Cooney got a foot on it to deflect it just enough.”
Wood continued to be the strong sider and had another great chance on a corner, as Sofia Filippo got free right in front of goal, but her header went high.
“We didn’t really change too much (in the second half), we just said keep working the ball to the outside, win the 50/50 balls in the second half and they played well,” Cappo said. “It was a well-played game for both teams.”
Erin Eckert had Wood’s third chance to open the scoring, getting the ball deflected to her after a free kick, but her shot glanced off the crossbar.
“Clinks the crossbar. We laughed then because if we’d had been in Lansdale, the goal would have been a little higher and it’s a goal,” O’Donnell said.
In the first half, Sellers had a header go high. Claire Basseti had another chance for Wood after LC cleared a free kick from the box, but the defender’s strike went right to Maxwell.
LC’s best opportunity for a goal in the first 40 came on a low cross by Opdyke found its way to Hannah Shumate, but McQuillen came off her line to block the shot.