FALLS TOWNSHIP – Earlier in the contest, Pennsbury had dominated previously unbeaten Neshaminy and yet, here they were watching the visiting Lady Skins march down the Falcons’ home pitch in overtime with upset on their minds.
To its credit, defending Suburban One National League champion Pennsbury (4-0, 2-0: SONL) corrected itself and got the eventual game-winner to keep itself unbeaten at 4-0 on the season.
Junior midfielder Lizzy Kirk didn’t tally the golden goal but she gets all the credit. Kirk took a pass into the left side of the box, then circled back to cross the ball over to senior Cara Thomas, who made no mistake when she blasted her second goal of the game over the head of Neshaminy junior goalkeeper Vicky Smith with three minutes remaining in the first overtime.
“I actually wasn’t planning on crossing it but I saw a (defender) coming to the right of me so I just (circled) to the left and got a crossover,” said Kirk. “I saw Cara running so I just tried to chip it to her.
“I did, and she scored.”
Thomas had broken a scoreless tie when she booted a ball over Smith’s head from 25 yards out in the 61st minute of play. Eleven minutes later, Falcons junior midfielder Whitney Roth pushed the score to two-nil when she poked one over the goalkeeper’s head after taking possession of a through-ball from classmate Hope Drewes.
After the game, Kirk said she wasn’t surprised that Pennsbury was able to regroup, despite giving up a two-goal lead in the final six minutes of regulation.
“That’s Falcons soccer,” said Kirk. “I’m really proud that we actually got ourselves together and came out in overtime all fired up.
“I knew we were going to come away with the win.”
For a little while – at least, in the latter stages of the second half and opening minutes of the extra session – a Falcon win was in question. Up 2-0 in the second half, Pennsbury saw its lead cut in half when Skins sophomore forward Brooke Mullin got a foot on a loose ball bobbled by Pennsbury backup keeper Ana Canal in front of the net with a little more than six minutes remaining in regulation.
Starting out the season as the JV keeper, Canal was forced to come in for starting netminder Kerry Phillips, who was benched for five minutes after a yellow card she received with nine and 1/2 minutes to play.
“We were dominating the entire game and I would say the last eight minutes, they got a goal in,” said Kirk. “I guess that hurt our emotions a little bit.
“I guess we got a little distraught.
Four minutes later, Mullin struck again. This time, she caught Phillips out of position, putting the ball into an empty net with 2:08 remaining to lock the sides at two goals, apiece.
“This team has a lot of heart and we know that we can come back and win games,” said Neshaminy senior Maggie Daeche. “We have so much talent that we have the ability to come back.
“Even going down two goals, we knew we could get back in this – as long as we played to feet, played together and got the ball through.”
Pennsbury’s win over the Suburban One National League archrival Redskins – who finished second in the conference last year – would have been impressive even without knowing the list of players the Lady Falcons entered the season without.
After all, Neshaminy (4-1, 2-1: SONL) came into the contest unbeaten at 4-0 with a previous triumph over West Chester Rustin. The Skins also topped North Penn and CB East in a pair of preseason scrimmages. The Patriots are defending D-1 champs and a 2015 PIAA runner-up and all three foes were District 1-AAA Tournament qualifiers last season.
But Pennsbury is playing without seniors Riley Rudd, Caroline Foley and Kelly Amador. After garnering All-Suburban One National League honors in 2015, all three players were injured in the offseason. What’s more, the Falcons lost one of their top scorers in 2016 graduate Jadyn Peto along with goalkeeper Nany Santiago. Both were All-SOL National third teamers.
Today, the Falcons, in addition to overcoming the loss of all three soccer stars, also endured the loss of their only varsity goalkeeper, who was flagged with an infraction after booting a dead ball out of bounds. Even Daeche admitted the penalty gave her team a lift.
“It definitely gave us a confidence-booster,” said Daeche. “At that point, we knew we could get up and finally attack, and get some good looks on the goal, which we did.
“We definitely got our momentum back when the keeper came out.”
While the Lady Skins got off the first few shots in the extra session, it was Pennsbury who grabbed all the momentum in the end, as well as the win.
Pennsbury 3, Neshaminy 2
(Sept. 15 at Pennsbury)
PENNSBURY 0 2 1 – 3
NESHAMINY 0 2 0 – 2
SECOND-HALF GOALS: P — Cara Thomas, from Hope Drewes 61st minute, Whitney Roth, from Drewes 72nd minute; N — Brooke Mullin, unassisted 74th minute, Mullin, from Kristin Curley 78th minute.
OVERTIME GOALS: P — Thomas, from Lizzie Kirk 87th minute; N — none.