LANGHORNE – Neshaminy senior Maggie Daeche would love to see her Lady Skins soccer team make a statement in the 2016 postseason. The senior fullback – one of the few freshmen on the team when the Neshaminy captured a PIAA girls soccer state championship in 2013 – helped get the top-seeded Skins off to a good start in a second-round win over defending District 1 champion CB East (10-7-3) Thursday night, Oct. 27 at Harry Franks Stadium.
Not only did Neshaminy’s best defender get off the shot that led to the game’s only goal by junior Jackie Ziegler on a header in the 45th minute, she helped keep the backfield intact and preserve the shutout in the final 35 minutes of rain-splattered action.
Minutes later, CB East goalkeeper Kristen Obetz made a diving save on a shot by Skins midfielder Riley Nyhus, keeping Neshaminy (17-1-1) ahead by the slimmest of margins. Fortunately for the Skins, the Neshaminy defense made Ziegler’s goal count.
“Obviously, we wanted another goal and we wanted to find the net again but defending came first at that point,” said Daeche.
“It’s always nerve-wracking to play one-up for a long period of time.
“We just had to have a defensive mindset.
“We didn’t want to have any mistakes and we didn’t want to let one in and have them get back into the game and have a shot at tying it up.”
The win sends the Skins to a District 1 Class 4A quarterfinal against No. 9 Downingtown West, a 2-1 overtime winner over No. 8 Quakertown. The winner of the quarterfinal – slated for noon back on Heartbreak Ridge – earns a berth in states while the loser heads to a playback round next Tuesday, Nov. 1.
In a duel that took place under absolutely the most miserable conditions – chilly temps and a steady downpour – the weather was becoming the great equalizer facing CB East, a PIAA finalist in 2015 that entered districts this year seeded in the No. 17 slot.
“The weather was playing a huge factor in our game,” explained Daeche. “We like to play the ball around and we like to pass it and try and get combinations in.
“We knew that East is a very long-ball team – they’re just going to try and kick it and hope that our defense makes a mistake.
“The challenge for the defense was being able to clear all those long balls out.”
It was a challenge that the senior and her cohorts on defense met and exceeded.
For their part, the Lady Patriots actually spent a considerable amount of time in Neshaminy’s end of the field in the first half. CB East junior Delaney Kennedy had perhaps the Pats’ best chance to score when she hit the crossbar behind Skins sophomore goalkeeper Riley Spingler with 14:30 remaining in the first period.
Freshman forward Kristin Curley had Neshaminy’s best scoring chance before the intermission but she shot the ball over the net with less than 30 seconds remaining in the first half.
During the break, there was plenty of discussion in the locker room, said Daeche.
“We knew we had to get it together,” the senior said.
“We needed to get our heads into the game; we weren’t playing it like it was a playoff game.
“We needed to focus and concentrate on controlling the ball.”
Of course, playing in the pouring rain on a grass field that is quickly turning to mud didn’t help the Skins’ cause.
“It is nerve-wracking, I’m not going to lie, because every ball, you don’t know where it’s going, you don’t know where it’s going to bounce,” she said. “You don’t know if it’s going to skip over your foot.
“You really need to focus; you can’t have an off game in weather like this.”
Not only does the ball get heavy with water, so does a player’s cleats. As the battle wears on, game shoes become soaked with water and at times, instead of the ball, a pound or more of mud might be sticking to feet.
“The ball gets heavy and so do your cleats,” said Daeche. “That’s the hardest part.
“You’re trying to kick the ball with five pounds of water and mud on your cleats.
“It makes it that much harder to clear the ball out.”
Finally with just 4:28 gone in the second period, Daeche put a big boot on a shot from the 30 that looped in on Obetz. While the CB East keeper got a few fingers on the ball, it wasn’t enough to keep it in front of her. Finally, Ziegler flew in for the header that became the eventual game-winner.
For senior starters like Daeche, along with Nyhus and forward Alyssa Tobin, this is their last chance to make a stand in a Skins uniform.
“We don’t want this to end early,” stated Daeche, quite simply.
“We want to play with so much heart that it’s contagious and everyone else is going to want to play the same way.”
“The older, more mature girls need to set the tone. As long as we come out and go really hard, we’re hoping all the younger girls will follow suit.”
In addition to a berth in states, the quarterfinal winner advances to face the winner of No. 4 seed Conestoga/No. 5 Spring-Ford.
Last year, Neshaminy topped Phoenixville in a first-round District 1 pairing but lost a Round of 16 matchup to West Chester Henderson. In 2014, the Skins beat CB East in the first round of districts before being eliminated by Downingtown West.
Neshaminy 1, Central Bucks East 0
(Oct. 27 at Neshaminy)
CB EAST 0 0 – 0
NESHAMINY 0 1 – 1
SECOND-HALF GOALS: Jackie Ziegler (N) unassisted, 45th minute.
SHOTS: Neshaminy 9, East 10.
SAVES: Riley Spingler (N) 4; Kristen Obertz (CBE) 5.