ABINGTON >> Souderton knew it was going to get a firm test against Abington.
The Ghosts certainly gave the Indians all they had, but Big Red showed plenty of mettle to continue its undefeated start to the season.
Walker Martin scored three goals, Jake Phaup scored two and won 11 of 12 faceoffs and Souderton pulled out a 5-3 victory under the lights Tuesday night.
“There are very few programs I respect more than Abington,” Souderton coach Mark Princehorn said. “They have produced some kids playing at the highest levels of college right now. I know this year and last year may not reflect it, but at the end of the day, I circle this game as being one of the toughest on our schedule.
The first quarter was pretty even with both teams trading spells of offensive possession but neither cashing anything in for the first 11 minutes. Souderton had the better chances but Big Red’s first few shots went right at Ghosts goalie Connor Reed, who didn’t need any extra help making saves.
The Indians coaches let their guys know to stop shooting right at Reed. Soudy’s ball movement finally paid off with 53 seconds left in the first stanza when Walker Martin sliced in for an unassisted goal.
It was a good night for both team’s defensive units. Reed made 11 saves in net while his opposite, Souderton goalieAxell Beskar, made six and the long poles on both sides stepped up to made some solid plays. Abington’s Casey Arnsden had five caused turnovers and he got plenty of support from Kevin Fitzgerald, Sean Donohue and Joe Lindley.
The Ghosts may not have the wins, but they’ve been playing hard all season.
“It’s been a slow start record-wise to our season, but our guys have kept working hard,” Ghosts coach Pete Burns said. “We knew we were a better team than our record indicated. Today we clicked a little better than we had been, but we’re still not there yet.”
Phaup, Souderton’s faceoff ace, made it 2-0 off a Stephen Blue assist up a man just a minute into the second frame. Jim Petricione pulled one back for Abington off a bit of a fluky play a few minutes later.
An initial shot was deflected through Souderton’s crease where the Ghost attackman was able to scoop it up and fire it home with 9:48 left in the half.
Phaup, a Syracuse recruit, wasted no time restoring the two-goal lead. He won the faceoff, raced down the field and ripped a laser of a shot from about 20 yards out that beat Reed with just 13 seconds elapsed off the clock.
The midfielder has a talent for winning faceoffs, but he’s also a complete lacrosse player.
“He’s been doing this for us the last three seasons and that’s why he’s going to play at the caliber of program he’s going to at the next level,” Princehorn said. “He gives us some time to run our offense, gives us those extra possessions. Tonight, he really put us in some good situations by getting the ball back for us and taking some momentum away from them.”
Abington, which had some early turnovers on offense, ran a beautiful play to cut the lead back to one. Petricione, stationed behind the net, flipped a pass to Ryan Herman cutting right down the middle of the crease. Herman finished the chance to cut the Indians lead to 3-2.
Phaup picked off a pass and started a break, getting the ball to Trent Breneman who in turn found Martin for his second goal and a 4-2 lead with 2:41 left in the half. That was the type of play Souderton has come to expect from Phaup and showing the impact he can have in every area of the game.
Given that Souderton came in at 7-0 and Abington was 1-6, it wasn’t obvious the two teams were so far apart in the standings. The Ghosts matched Souderton’s energy and if not for a few mistakes, were basically on even terms.
“Those little mistakes really added up and in a low-scoring game, that was the difference,” Burns said. “No one has given up on the team. We have nine players that are freshmen or sophomores who get regular playing time. We knew it would take some time to come together.”
The Ghosts had the only score of the third quarter when Ryan Tuffy worked his way in front and fired home with 47 seconds left. Reed made a big stop on a dart on the following possession and the Ghosts took plenty of momentum into the final frame.
Much like the first quarter, the fourth was a duel of possessions with both teams generating a couple of near-chances. Fittingly it was Phaup and Martin who combined on the big play of the quarter.
With Big Red still clinging to a one-goal lead, Phaup pulled the defense to his side and whipped a pass to Martin on the opposite post. The attackman put it home with 3:16 left.
Souderton was just 3-15 a season ago, so the Indians know their 8-0 start could fall apart fast if they start to get complacent. Princehorn said his guys have been playing with a bit of a chip on their shoulder, but the Indians still took a minute on Tuesday to make sure that everyone, including the coaches, are being held accountable.
“We are all constantly reminding each other of what happened last year,” Princehorn said. “It can happen to you if you don’t play well or you don’t show up or you get off the bus and you’re not ready. It is very much on our minds. We really haven’t done anything and we’re not in a position where we can overlook anyone.”
SOUDERTON 1 3 0 1 – 5
ABINGTON 0 2 1 0 – 3
Goals-Assists: S – Walker Martin 3-0, Jake Phaup 2-1, Stephen Blue 0-1, Trent Breneman 0-1; A – Jim Petricione 1-1, Ryan Herman 1-0, Ryan Tuffy 1-0.
Saves: S – Axell Beskar 6, A – Connor Reed 11