LANGHORNE – The last time Neshaminy squared off against Pennsbury, the Lady Skins played the Falcons to a 2-2 tie in regulation before falling 3-2 in overtime.
Neshaminy sophomore Brooke Mullin scored twice in the last 10 minutes of regulation to send the Sept. 15 girls soccer duel at Pennsbury to an extra session. Thursday afternoon (Oct. 13) at Harry Franks Stadium, she tallied her 19th goal of the season 26 minutes into the first half and the Skins’ defense held the rest of the way to tag the Falcons with their first loss of the season.
“We were really upset about that loss; we knew we could have beat them then,” said Mullins. “Knowing we scored that quickly in that game, we knew we could get quick goals on them.”
“Today, we just came out really hard and looking for the win and playing hard to every ball and fighting for it every second of the game.
Neshaminy (12-1-1, 7-1-1 SOL National) broke through when Skins senior forward Alyssa Tobin served a ball in from the top left-hand corner of the box that dropped into the crease in front of Pennsbury netminder Kerry Phillips. Mullins got a foot on the ball and tapped it waste high into the goalmouth a second before Phillips turned around and grabbed it. In her mind, the Falcon keeper thought she had a save.
“I wasn’t that close to the play but as I understood, it didn’t really look like it was in but the ref called it a goal,” said Pennsbury senior captain Meredith Webber.
“You can’t really do anything about calls – that one just didn’t go our way.”
Still, Pennsbury (11-1, 8-1 SOL National) threw everything but the kitchen sink at Neshaminy in the second half only to be kept off the board entirely. Neshaminy defenders Maggie Daeche, a senior, and Nicole Palmer, a junior, helped Skins goalkeeper Riley Spingler post their team’s ninth shutout of the season and fifth clean sheet in its last six contests.
“Maggie (Daeche) and Nicole Palmer – they both hold it real tight in the middle,” explained Mullin. “They barely let anyone through. “(Sophomore) Hanna Stonkus and (junior) Genna Obringer are on the outside back. Both are very strong and very tough to get through.”
According to Mullin, the Skins made a few defensive adjustments between the last time the sides squared off and the second matchup of the season.
“They play with more midfielders than us and we didn’t know that last time.
“We knew we had to have one of our forwards – either me or Kristin (Curley), whoever was up top – we had to drop back and defend.”
“We knew we had to play a little more mental – we couldn’t let them get into our heads like we did last game.”
Ironically, both teams have the same number of games left –three – against the exact same foes: Council Rock North, CR South and Truman.
“We both have a loss and they have a tie so as long as we keep winning our next three games, then the league is ours,” said Webber.
Neshaminy hosts CR North at 3:30 today while Pennsbury squares off against CR South at 7 p.m. at Macclesfield in Yardley.
Both teams have topped their respective Friday foes in earlier season matchups though the Skins battled CR South – whom they face at home on Oct. 20 in the last game of the regular season – to a scoreless tie on Sept. 27 on Rock Way. That tie keeps the Falcons on top in the Suburban One National League so all Pennsbury – the District 1 Champion in 2014 – has to do is win out in order to hang onto its third consecutive league title.
In this game, the Falcons must have had at least a dozen scoring chances fall by the wayside in the second half, the last two coming to senior Cara Thomas who was offside – but just barely – on an opportunity that came with 4:30 remaining and was ridden off the ball by Neshaminy seniors Riley Nyhus and Alyssa Tobin with less than a minute to go in the battle.
“We just couldn’t get the ball in the back of the net,” said Webber. “I’m not sure what it was. We wasted a lot of time kicking it out of bounds and they do a great job of not wanting to play us on the field.”
Pennsbury kept the ball trapped on the Skins end of the pitch for most of the second half.
“Over the past three years that I’ve been here, we’ve always been a really good squad,” said Webber. “But the first game that we lose always seems to be a playoff game.
“It does suck losing today but we have to get past this. We know what this feeling is like and we don’t like it. So, we don’t plan on doing it again this season.”
On the pitch, there was plenty of pushing to go around by both sides. Webber attributed that to the proximity of the schools, the league rivalry and the fact that a fair share of the girls from both schools play together on the same club teams.
Pennsbury started the week ranked second in Region III (PA, NJ) by USA Today while the Skins were listed at number five. The win over the Falcons – together with Neshaminy’s recent 1-0 shutout of Downingtown West, the D-1 runner-up in 2015 – should improve the Skins’ stock in the regional poll. Ironically, Pennsbury lost to the Whippets in the district quarterfinals last season.
NOTES: The Falcons wrap up their season with a non-league battle against Conestoga Oct. 21 on their home pitch.
Contact Steve Sherman at ssherman@21st-Centurymedia.com or @BucksLocalSport on Twitter
Neshaminy 1, Pennsbury 0
(Oct. 13 at Neshaminy)
PENNSBURY 0 0 – 0
NESHAMINY 1 0 – 1
FIRST-HALF GOALS: Brooke Mullin (N) from Alyssa Tobin, 26th minute.
SHOTS: Neshaminy 9, Pennsbury 11.
SAVES: Riley Spingler (N) 7; Kerry Phillips (P) 4.