CHELTENHAM >> Lena Staropoli calls it her “favorite spot” to take a free kick.
“Thirty-five yards out, corner of the 18 (yard box),” said the Lansdale Catholic senior defender.
And when she got a chance there Tuesday afternoon against Bishop McDevitt, Staropoli showed why. Off her right foot, Staropoli hit a curling strike off the top of the opposite post and into the back of the net for the Crusaders third goal of the Philadelphia Catholic League contest at Harry Renninger Park.
“Just recently in our game against Penn Charter in Ocean City, I had the same shot hit the post and actually bounced out instead of in,” Staropoli said. “So good to get (a goal) the second time.”
Lansdale Catholic added one more tally before halftime, then tacked on three more in the second half to cruise to its third straight victory 7-0 over the host Lancers.
“Well, the girls start looking to her more now to take the free kicks, I noticed last year they deferred to her more and this year it’s an automatic, some free kick, it’s hers,” LC coach Tom O’Donnell said. “And she’s accepting that role and she’s putting shots on goal.
“We were just joking about it here she had the game-tying shot against Penn Charter, it hits the crossbar, bounces down and out. This one rattles the bar but goes in. She’s just hitting rockets from 35, 45 yards out, they’re unstoppable against anybody.”
Erin Toburen and Kate Henesey each scored twice while Christine Viereck had a pair of assists – both to Henesey for the Crusaders (3-1, 2-0 league), who bounced back from that season opening loss to pick up two PCL victories sandwiching a non-league win over Methacton.
“We played well enough to win against Penn Charter and the beauty of that is we came home from the game and didn’t change anything,” O’Donnell said. “Conwell-Egan was a great wakeup call for us because there early in the second half and they’re winning, that was an upset special that day, could have been. We found our feet and we ended up pulling away from them.
“So that was a big boost and this game here on the surface it looks like it’s going to be a really tough battle for the other guys but for us there were things to accomplish and work on and that’s where you got to go,” O’Donnell said. We got to get something positive out of every game here and so that’s what we did here today, we got something positive out of it.”
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) September 12, 2016
The Crusaders took control of things early in the opening half, with Staropoli taking a short corner and crossing a ball into the box to Erin O’Sullivan, who volleyed it high into the net for a 1-0 lead over the Lancers (0-3, 0-2).
Another ball LC sent in the 18-yard area resulted in Toburen getting the last touch on it for her first goal and a two-score advantage.
“It hit off of someone’s head and I just kneed it into the corner,” Toburen said.
Staropoli free-kick strike gave the Crusaders a good level of comfort, while Taylor Connolly gave the Crusaders a 4-0 lead at the break by lofting a shot over McDevitt keeper Morgan Bender.
“Definitely this being our second league game and having four players who this is their first year playing soccer ever, I think we did OK,” Lancers coach Annemarie Heaps said.“Definitely defensively, which again, we’ve improved on since our last game which is what I was looking for. We had a couple chances, but just need to be able to finish and need to be able to pull people up on offense a little bit more.
“But Lansdale’s a good team, they have the numbers and experience. Overall, I think we gave them our best.”
Lansdale Catholic is back in action Tuesday hosting Pope John Paul 3:45 p.m. in a non-league matchup. Bishop McDevitt is home against Archbishop Ryan Thursday.
Toburen added her second to make it 5-0 LC after the ball was knocked away from Henesey in the box, but the clearance came to Toburen, who sent a low shot past Bender.
We have four games this week so I think it’s good to have a game to kind of coast off of and just take momentum,” Staropoli.”
Henesey added the final two goals for Lansdale Catholic. The junior collected her first by getting free space on the right side, dribbling in close and putting a shot into the opposite corner. Henesey then picked up the brace with a nice move to evade a defender before softly rolling the ball in.
Top Photo: Lansdale Catholic’s Sarah Cooney battles Bishop McDevitt’s Marie Sahou for possession during their game on Monday, Sept. 12, 2016. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)