After dropping its first five games against Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL) opponents, Conwell-Egan Catholic (CEC) went on a tear, winning seven straight against league foes including a 2-0 shutout victory Oct. 17 in a PCL play-in battle against Bishop John Hallahan.
The end of the road in the PCL Tournament came for the 7th-seeded Lady Eagles in a 4-1 loss to No. 2 St. Hubert’s Thursday afternoon (Oct. 20) at Riverview Park.
“No one ever wants their season to end on a note like that, or just end – period,” said CEC senior Lindsay Straka. “But we’re seniors; it’s going to happen, eventually.”
For now, Conwell-Egan’s season is not over. The girls will get another shot in the District 12 Class A Championship where they will square off against the Philadelphia Public League Champ Nov. 2 at Northeast High School.
In this one, the Eagles (11-9, 9-6: PCL) played the No. 2 seeded Bambies to a scoreless standoff for 24 minutes, that is, until SH senior Maria Hagan connected on a corner kick from junior Ava Pizzaro.
For the next 10 minutes, the lone goal was all that separated the Eagles from their opponent. That’s right around the time Pizzaro got into it with Egan junior backfielder Alexis Hyska. Talk about solid tackling. For a few tense moments, spectators who gathered to watch the duel along the Delaware River weren’t sure whether they were watching fütball or football.
“It was typical Catholic League, in-your-face, smash-mouth soccer,” said CEC head coach Andrzej “Andy” Adamiec.
“You can call it what you want. (There was) a lot of pushing, no calls and you saw what happened.
“Thank God nobody was throwing any punches. If you don’t have control of the game, it gets out of hand.”
Pizzaro was handed a 5-minute yellow card violation and the Eagles lost two players to penalties – Hyska along with junior Mackensie Michaels, although all she seemed to be doing was an attempt to separate the disputing parties.
An additional result of the scrum was a drop ball deep in the CEC end. The Eagles managed to boot the ball out of bounds but the ensuing throw in by Hagan was popped into the back of the Egan net by SH junior Dominique Doebley less than a minute after the offsetting infractions. CEC junior keeper Maddy Terry initially had a hand on the ball but she lost it, leaving an open net for Doebley.
“Everything went downhill after that (tackling) incident,” said Adamiec. “After that, it seemed like the girls were a little more hesitant to challenge them.”
To be fair, the Bambies generated far more quality scoring chances than did the Eagles. And it showed in the final outcome.
“They’re a good team; what can I say,” said Straka. “I give them props. They were (among) the top three in the PCL league and that’s big.”
Time and again, it was Terry throwing her body into harm’s way, helping to give Egan a chance
“Maddy Terry always plays 100 percent every game, regardless of who we’re playing,” said Straka. “No matter how she feels that day, she always give it her all.”
Less than five minutes into the second half, Hubert’s upped the ante to 3-0 on a goal by SH senior Kylie Bowers, who took a pass from classmate Ashley Andalis and tallied on a direct kick from 20 yards out.
Conwell-Egan finally got on the scoreboard in the 58th minute with CEC junior Erin Rottloff bouncing a ball behind Hubert’s goalkeeper Briana Pudlow. Conwell-Egan junior Carly Bonfig was in the right spot to take advantage, sliding the ball into the near side corner from a difficult angle.
The Bambies closed out the scoring when SH senior Julie Bagnell took the ball wide right then shot to the far left-hand corner of the net in the 67th minute of play.
“Overall, I think it was a good game,” said Straka. “We played hard. Obviously, the other team came out strong. But I know my team put a lot of heart into it – we played as best as we could.”
It was the second time this season Hubert’s outpaced the Eagles. The Bambies topped Conwell-Egan 3-1 earlier this season. But that was way back on Sept. 15. Nine days later on their home pitch, the Eagles began the process of turning their fortunes around, outpacing Bonner-Prendergast 3-1 on their home pitch.
Then came a shutout win over Hallahan, the first of five clean sheets for Terry this season. League wins ensued over Little Flower, Cardinal O’Hara, Bishop McDevitt and Saints Neumann-Goretti.
“As we got deeper and deeper into the season, we just realized how much it meant to everybody,” explained Straka, one of six seniors on the squad. “Just playing with heart – that’s the key to winning every game.”
Egan played with plenty of heart in this one, too, before getting steamrolled by Hubert’s.
In the PCL play-in battle, Conwell-Egan blanked No. 10 seed Bishop John Hallahan 2-0 Oct. 17 on the Eagles home pitch. Straka and Michaels tallied for CEC and Terry was credited with her fifth shutout of the season.
The Eagles made their last serious run at states in 2012 when CEC topped Christopher Dock to earn a berth in the PIAA title tilt. A win on Nov. 2 in the D-12 championship and Egan could be on its way again.
“With the way we’ve been playing recently, I think our chances of going far are really high,” said Straka.
In other PCL girls soccer quarterfinal action, No. 2 seed Archbishop Wood blanked No. 6 seed Archbishop Carroll 2-0 and top seed Lansdale Catholic shut out 8th-seeded Cardinal O’Hara 4-0.
Lansdale takes on No. 5 seed Archbishop Ryan at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25 at UGH while Wood faces Hubert’s at 7:30 that night (Ryan blanked No. 4 Little Flower Oct. 19 by a 2-0 score).
Contact Steve Sherman at [email protected] or @BucksLocalSport on Twitter
Saint Hubert’s 4, Conwell-Egan 1
(Oct. 20 at Riverview Park)
SAINT HUBERT’S 2 2 – 4
CONWELL-EGAN 0 1 – 1
FIRST-HALF GOALS: SH — Maria Hagan from Ava Pizzaro, 24th minute, Dominique Doebley from Hagan, 35 minute; CE — none.
SECOND-HALF GOALS: SH — Kylie Bowers, from Ashley Andalis 44th minute, Julie Bagnell, 67th minute; CE — Carly Bonfig, from Erin Rotloff, 58th minute.