FALLS TWP. – Pennsbury entered Thursday’s matchup with Suburban One National League rival Council Rock North unbeaten and wanted things to stay that way. Yet, here the Falcons (6-0, 4-0) were trailing the visiting Lady Indians at the half on an almost improbable goal by CR North senior forward Kayla Robinson.
“It’s always a little nerve-wracking when we go down one-nothing,” said Falcons co-captain Meredith Webber. “But this team that we have this year, I don’t put it past us that we can come back.
“We’ve done it before; we’re going to do it again.”
While Webber provided her team with the winning edge when she made good on a penalty kick in the 54th minute, it was classmate Maddie Annan coming through with the equalizer 10 minutes into the second half.
Connecting on a corner kick, Annan bicycle-kicked the ball over her head and into the back of the net high above the head of Indians senior goalkeeper Carly Riggs.
“I was just looking for a goal,” said Annan. “Our coaches said we could get scrappy goals so I was just looking for a scrappy goal and I found it.”
Pennsbury co-captain Jo Tennant gets part of the credit for the game-tying tally, which came on a set-piece. It was she that earned the corner kick, going to goal to the left of Riggs, forcing CR North junior Mia Scalamandre to kick the ball to the curb only moments before the equalizer by Annan.
While the Falcons outshot the Indians 5-1 in the first half, Pennsbury wasn’t getting any quality scoring chances before the break. That all changed after the intermission. Annan said she took it upon herself to make sure of it in the second half.
“We usually have the word ‘trust’ in our halftime talks,” explained Annan. “The (coaches) encourage trust in us every halftime and they told us we need to pick it up.
“I felt that I, myself needed to pick it up so when I went out there, I just wanted to make a difference in the game.”
Putting the Rock on top 1-0 in the 23rd minute was Robinson, who tallied her eighth goal of the season when she dropped a ball in over the head of Falcon goalkeeper Kerry Phillips from 30 yards out after bumping a Pennsbury defender off the ball along the right sideline.
“It was definitely unlucky, but a goal is a goal,” said Webber. “If it went in, then it counts.
“I told the girls, ‘get angry.’ That should anger us and it did and we came back.”
District 1 champions two years ago, the Falcons – who lost to eventual 2014 state champion CB West – would like nothing better than to return to those heights this season.
The last time these two teams met, the Rock emerged a 1-0 winner at Walt Snyder Stadium.
“We started the series off on our turf this year and we wanted to put one away to set things straight,” said Webber. “This year, we’re not playing around.”
Making Pennsbury’s 2016 early season run seem somewhat improbable is the fact the Falcons entered the fall campaign without the services of seniors Riley Rudd, Caroline Foley and Kelly Amador, three players who garnered All-SOL National Conference honors last year.
“We lost a few players – seniors that have injuries this year but honestly, I think it might have brought us closer this year,” said Webber.
“We’re definitely scrappier than last year and we know that we need to fight for everything.
“We’re not taking anything for granted.”
The victory over the Indians comes two days after a 3-2 Pennsbury win over CR South and one week after the Falcons topped Neshaminy by the same score in overtime. In that one, Pennsbury looked like it might coast to a 2-0 triumph over the Skins before allowing a pair of Neshaminy goals in the closing minutes of the second half.
To their credit, the Falcons rebounded with a goal by senior Cara Thomas off a feed from junior Lizzie Kirk in the seventh minute of the extra session. And in this game, Pennsbury pounded the North net right up until the closing bell. For the game, the Falcons outshot the Rock, 11-4.
“One thing that we’re always thinking about is growing every single game,” explained Webber. “It’s not anything in particular, it’s just everything that we do during the game, we want to improve upon during the season to make it pay off.”
For the Indians, the loss is their second in three days, coming on the heels of a 2-0 shutout suffered at the hands of division rival Neshaminy on Sept. 20. After starting the season at 3-0 including a 3-0 triumph over sister school South, North has cooled off.
But Robinson liked the moxie her team displayed on the road in this one.
“Overall, my team played really hard. I think in the first half, we had a good portion of the possession,” explained Robinson. “The second half was a little iffy but other than that, I think we worked our butts off in this game.”
Last year was the Lady Indians’ turn to make a run at states. Led by Robinson, along with graduates Tori Hill (Syracuse) and Jeri Belardo, the Rock went 3-1 in districts and 1-1 in states. All three players earned all-league honors last year and helped North capture a third-place trophy in the District 1 Class AAA Tournament.
Riggs has taken up the spot vacated by Belardo, who earned First Team All-SOL National honors in 2015. Solidifying the middle of the field are juniors Becca Margolis and Emily Mackin along with senior Caitlin Duffy.
“Carly is doing a great job keeping us in the game and directing us on and off the field,” said Robinson. “Becca, Emily and Caitlin are doing a good job working together and making sure we stay solid in the middle.”
NOTES: Robinson is verbally committed to Charleston Southern while Webber says she’ll play at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County (UMBC).
Contact Steve Sherman at ssherman@21st-Centurymedia.com or @BucksLocalSport on Twitter
Pennsbury 2, Council Rock North 1
(Sept. 22 at Pennsbury)
FIRST-HALF GOALS: CRN — Kayla Robinson, unassisted 23rd minute; P — none.
SECOND-HALF GOALS: CRN — none; P — Maddie Annan, unassisted, 50 minute, Meredith Webber 54 minute, penalty kick.
SHOTS: P — 11; CRN — 3.
SAVES: P — Kerry Phillips 4; CRN — Carly Riggs 10.