LANSDALE >> With about five minutes left in regulation and the score tied, Lansdale Catholic forward Kate Henesey and Archbishop Carroll defender Bella Sorrentino battled inside the box.
Henesey powered forward, fighting through some tough defending from Sorrentino and then got enough room to put everything she could on a shot, ripping it past Carroll keeper Claire Boylan. The goal went on to be the game-winner and emblematic of the entire afternoon in the Crusader’s 3-2 victory.
Lansdale had a lot of chances, but had to work really hard to put three of them away on a resilient Carroll side.
“Their keeper stood on her head, she played a great game but at the same time, we had a lot of opportunities,” LC senior Sarah Cooney said.
“Our finishes should have been more on point,” junior Rose Stella added. “They’re a great team for sure, but I know us and (Cooney) knows us as a team and we’re very good at putting goals in the net and today didn’t show it.”
The Crusaders had chances by the bundle, out-shooting Carroll 15-4 and having a 9-0 edge in corner kicks but managed just three goals. A lot of that credit goes to the Carroll defense, with Boylan making 12 saves and playing a heads-up, decisive game with any balls put into the air.
On the back line, Sorrentino was a force at center back, matching the physical Henesey and causing a lot of problems on those LC corner kicks. Sorrentino also added Carroll’s second goal in the 51st minute to make it 2-2 on a brilliantly taken free kick.
“Their keeper was outstanding and somehow we managed to beat her for three goals which tells you the pressure we had on their end,” LC coach Tom O’Donnell said. “She made some saves in traffic that were just brilliant plays on her part.”
Carroll got the game’s first goal in the 11th minute when forward Rachel Matey pounced on a misplayed ball by LC’s back line and volleyed it into the back of the net. But the lead didn’t last long as an LC corner put the ball in play near the box where Sarah Fitzpatrick was able to find Henesey inside the six, where the Bucknell commit tapped it home less than a minute later.
The Crusaders added a second goal in the 38th minute when senior midfielder Colbie Cummings was able to force home a third effort off a free kick from the right wing.
Mishit first touches inside the box was a recurring theme on the day for LC and something the Crusaders are well-aware they’ll need to stop before their next match. With perennial PCL title contender Archbishop Ryan visiting on Thursday, those chances will have to be converted.
“That’s what we have to address,” O’Donnell said. “We have two days to clean that up because when we get a chance, my goodness, we just can’t let it roll away from us.”
“We’ll need to have a better warm-up for sure,” Stella said. “We have to make sure we come out stronger because I felt that we came out a little slow in the beginning.”
The second half began with LC knocking at Carroll’s door on three quick corner kicks, but Sorrentino and the defense didn’t let anything on frame. Then, a foul just outside the LC box set up a free kick that Sorrentino came out of the back to take. The senior absolutely buried it to the upper 90 to knot the game.
While Carroll didn’t have nearly as many chances, it was threatening when it had them. But the LC defense did a good job using its speed to limit those opportunities.
“We’re in it to win, so we don’t want to let anything brings us down,” Cooney, an outside back, said. “That goal, it motivated us, we had to keep pushing, we had to keep playing hard because every minute counts.”
“We have to stay in front of every player or keep a man-on-man mark so they can’t win any of the balls in the air,” Stella said. “That’s where a team gets them because of better positioning. We usually play a bunch of taller girls, and I’m not tall, so staying in front of them and getting there first is the idea.”
LC’s pressure didn’t let up, but Boylan was superb after the equalizer, coming out to stuff a great cross from Stella, then denying Henesey twice in quick sequence to preserve the tie.
The Crusaders have used their speed on the flanks to good effect so far this season, but have also been getting offensive contributions from all over. With Henesey on the field, that opens up even slightly more room for the natural scorer to do her thing, just as she did in the waning minutes Monday.
“We’re looking to get it to anyone’s feet at this point, but Kate is our top scorer,” Cooney said. “We look to her, but she has a little more help than she’s had.”
With a big match looming on Thursday, the Crusaders were confident if they could generate a similar amount of chances as they did on Monday, they could come out with a win. Ryan has had LC’s number for the past few seasons, but LC is definitely ready for the challenge.
“I think we’re going to have a different mindset just because we’re playing a big rival of ours,” Stella said. “Any chance we get, we’re going to hunt for it.”
Carroll gave the Crusaders a needed test on Monday. While LC eked out a win, they know that’s not a team they’d like to see again anytime soon.
“(Carroll)’s the team you don’t want to see in the playoffs,” O’Donnell said. “Let them take Wood or Little Flower. But those kids are going to take (coach Frank Olszewski) far.
Lansdale Catholic 3, Archbishop Carroll 2
Archbishop Carroll 1 1 – 2
Lansdale Catholic 2 1 – 3
Goals: AC – Rachel Matey 11’, Bella Sorrentino 51’; LC – Kate Henesey (Sarah Fitzpatrick) 12’, Colbie Cummings 38’, Henesey 75’
Shots: AC – 4, LC- 15. Corners: AC – 0, LC – 9. Saves: AC – Claire Boylan 12; LC – Cailey Maxwell 1, Cayla Hopkins 1