NEWTOWN – Trailing Central Bucks East, 1-0, with less than 10 minutes remaining in a District 1-AAAA girls soccer tournament opener Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 25) at Walt Snyder Stadium, 16th-seeded Council Rock South threw all of its might into its offense.
With seven seniors on the team including striker Maria Buonomo, co-captains Jesse Magee and Kasey Schlupp, who helped lead the team to a PIAA state playoff run in 2014, the Golden Hawks did not want to see their season end this way.
“We really wanted to score,” stated junior Kiera Flanagan. “And I had the chance at the end of the game and I didn’t make it.”
With 7:50 remaining in the game, Flanagan probably had South’s best scoring chance. But a diving save by CB East sophomore goalkeeper Kristen Obetz sent the Patriots on to the next round and put a somewhat premature end to a postseason campaign the 2016 Hawks can only dream of.
“It was a little too late,” stated Francis. “We didn’t put that kind of pressure on for a long enough period of time.
“You can’t just do that in the last five minutes and expect to tie the game up or come away with the victory.”
CR South finished its regular season campaign the previous week, coming off of tough losses to Neshaminy and Pennsbury – the top two ranked teams in the region. So the Hawks should have been primed for No. 17 seed CB East.
And yet, South seemed to come out flat in its opening playoff against the Patriots, the defending District 1 Champion and 2015 PIAA finalist.
Check that! Actually, both teams seemed to lack punch in the first half as there was very little in the way of offense from either side in the first 40 minutes of play.
“I thought the majority of the game was played in the middle third (of the field),” said Hawks head coach Kimmy Francis. “It was one of those things where we couldn’t seem to get the ball settled and play our style of soccer.
“Their style of soccer flustered us a bit. And not being able to settle it really disrupted us.”
Finally, with 7:11 gone in the second half, CB East senior midfielder Hannah Zach placed a big boot on an attempted clearing pass by CR South and launched it from 35 yards out toward the top shelf of the Hawks’ net. Try as she might, South sophomore goalkeeper Chelsea Jameson could not keep the game’s only goal out of the net. The ball tipped off the keeper’s fingers and in, handing the Pats the only goal they’d need to advance.
“It was a little flukey – the girl was out at the 35 and just hit it,” commented Francis, of the long-distance strike by Zach. “Our keeper, I guess, just didn’t expect it.”
According to the striking player, she was aiming for the spot where the ball dropped in.
“I usually just go for the crossbar,” said Zach. “One – if the goalie can’t get to it, it will go to another player. And if it hits the crossbar, it will bounce back out and go to one of our players so we’ll have more opportunities on goal.”
“I was just trying to get it on net,” added Zach. “I think the sun was in her eyes at the time so if it was on net, she wouldn’t have a clear view of it.”
For their efforts, the Patriots advance to face top-seeded Neshaminy at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27 at Harry Franks Stadium. The Hawks’ season ends at 11-7-1 overall, 7-4-1 in the Suburban One League (SOL) National Conference.
After a lackluster first-half, things certainly seemed like they were headed East’s way. Coming back from the break, the Patriots put plenty of pressure on the South goal, registering three shots and four corner kicks in the first 15 minutes of the second half.
Francis says there were times when her side put up a fight.
“I thought toward the end of both halves, we were putting pressure on them,” the coach said. “We just couldn’t make anything happen.”
CB East is back without a host of 2016 graduates after falling 2-1 to Upper St. Clair in last year’s state title tilt. The most notable loss was National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) High School All-American Emma Loving, now playing at the University of Pennsylvania.
Leading the Patriots to states the last four years, Loving notched 33 goals and 11 assists as a senior. Eight of her 2015 scores came in the postseason.
“We have been working on scoring more because we don’t have Emma anymore to score all of our goals,” said Zach of the current crop of CB East soccer players.
“We lost a lot of our girls in the middle of the field like Page Weiss and Emma Horn so we’ve been building up the middle of our lineup.”
Last year, the Patriots’ only loss of the season came in the PIAA championship as that squad went 24-1-1. This year’s group entered districts with just nine wins.
According to Zach, there was some anxiety over whether the current group was going to make it to districts. Late-season ties with CB South and West Chester Henderson helped East garner enough power points to earn a berth in the tourney.
“For the last couple of years that I’ve been at East, we’ve always had a strong team and we never really had to fight to get in,” said Zach. “This year, it was like ‘are we going make it, are we not going to make it?’”
For CR South, the Hawks wave goodbye to seven seniors including Buonomo, Magee, Schlupp, Caroline Doyle, Kylie Rayher, Maddy Kennerly and Arielle Segal. While the group struggled through a 4-8-2 campaign in 2015, they helped lead South to states in 2014.
“This group has been a consistent group for us for the past four years,” said Francis. “They’re solid; their work rate and ethic is exactly what you ask for in a senior class.
“The leadership was great. The chemistry with the group was great this year.
“It’s going to be a huge loss – all seven of them – so we’re going to have some rebuilding to do here.”
In other District 1-AAAA girls soccer action, Council Rock North upset 12th-seeded Unionville, 4-3, on penalty kicks for a 1-0 victory over this season’s Ches-Mont American League champs. Seeded 21st, the Lady Indians from Newtown recorded their 12th win of the season and advanced to face No. 5 Spring-Ford on Thursday.
Rock North topped Spring-Ford in PKs in last year’s District 1 battle for third place.
Contact Steve Sherman at ssherman@21st-Centurymedia.com or @BucksLocalSport on Twitter
Central Bucks East 1, Council Rock South 0
(Oct. 25 at CR North)
CB EAST 0 1 – 1
CR SOUTH 0 0 – 0
FIRST-HALF GOALS: CBE — none; CRS — none.
SECOND-HALF GOALS: CBE — Hannah Zach, unassisted, 48 minute; CRS — none.
SHOTS: CBE — 5, CRS — 2
SAVES: CBE (Kristen Obetz) — 2; CRS (Chelsea Jameson) — 4.