ABINGTON >> With the seconds winding off, Abington had exactly what it wanted.
Senior Sam McGee was in front of the net and there was plenty of traffic getting in the way of Central Bucks West goalie Lauren Devlin’s view of her. So McGee unleashed one of those wicked shots she so often scores on, low and hard toward the inside of the post.
It was a good shot, one the Ghosts would take any time.
Devlin just made a better save.
The Bucks, boosted by Devlin’s late save, held off a strong second half effort by Abington to secure an 8-7 road win Friday afternoon as the Suburban One League’s top two teams clashed in a crossover game. The Ghosts started fast, but fell into a lull for much of the first half and their inspired effort wasn’t enough to make up the ground.
“We all got together and said this is our game and we all wanted it so bad,” CB West midfielder Maddie Maio said. “It started to get a little bit rough but that was when we started to come together a little more as a team and the outcome was there.”
West didn’t have its best effort either, with coach Tara Schmucker saying her players were a little nervous at the outset, a sentiment that Maio echoed. While the Bucks withstood Abington’s fast start and scored six straight goals, they still had some uncharacteristic turnovers and sloppy passes.
They did counter it with some stellar play on the defensive end of the field. When senior keystone Bryn Boylan picked up her second yellow card with 13:46 left in the second half, excluding her from the rest of the game, West rallied.
“We knew how big this game was for us and nerves got to us in the beginning,” Schmucker said. “I don’t think it ever left our system, things got better, but we didn’t see that chemistry that we had in the past.”
McGee scored twice inside the first three minutes of the game, Abington taking advantage of two West turnovers to do so and the Ghosts were rolling out of the gate. The Bucks didn’t panic and sophomore Casey Reichwein just kept winning draw controls, giving CB West plenty of possession to settle in.
Reichwein scored the Bucks’ first goal and they got four more from four different scorers to take a 5-2 lead at the half.
“The second half was the first time I saw Abington play lacrosse this year,” Ghosts coach Amanda Kammes said. “That was our best half of the year, hands down. It was clean, we had each other’s backs, we were disciplined on defense, we possessed on attack and we scored when we had the opportunity. It wasn’t flashy, it was unselfish, it was good lacrosse.”
Finley Ueland’s second goal gave CB West a 6-2 lead with 23:49 left in the second half, which seemed to snap Abington out of its malaise. McGee scored her third and Kaley Enhow put one away to cut the lead down to 6-4 before Maio put West back up three off a Boylan assist with 16:23 left.
Maio’s tally aside, Abington’s defense really turned things up a level in the second half and it allowed the offense to have more possessions as opposed to the first half. McGee and Casey McCallister both scored three minutes apart to cut West’s lead down to one with 9:22 left.
“That is not a recipe for success come playoff time,” Kammes said. “Credit to CB West, they’re one of the best teams we’ve played all year and we’ve played a really good schedule. It’s cool to see parity in the area, it makes it exciting. We’re getting close to playoff time.”
West’s Dani Dundas earned a free position shot with 5:33 left and converted it, giving the Bucks an 8-6 edge. It was a big goal that stopped Abington’s two-goal run and stood even larger when McCallister scored on her own free position shot with 4:35 left.
“That really kept us in the game,” Schmucker said. “It gave us some momentum we didn’t have for parts of the second half.”
Abington had three chances to tie the game, but couldn’t convert on two free position shots and Devlin making the key stop on McGee late. West’s defense made a couple of big stands late and Maio said they were especially aware of the flip-passes the Ghosts favored at the top of the eight-meter.
Yet, Abington still got the ball to McGee and the senior got the take she wanted.
“She’s a great player and she has a great shot but once we saw her rip a couple, we knew we had to get out and take her right side, her strong side, away,” Maio said. “You just get your stick and body and step up where they want to go. We did a really good job too with switching.”
Kammes said she wants to see her team turn that second half effort into a complete 50-minute effort. The Ghosts were one great save away from tying the game Friday, but they can’t keep putting themselves in that kind of spot.
“We had three opportunities to score that on any other day of the week maybe would have gone in,” Kammes said. “But we can’t get down four goals and hang your hat on those three opportunities.”
Central Bucks West 8, Abington 7
CENTRAL BUCKS WEST 5 3 – 8
ABINGTON 2 5 – 7
Goals-Assists: CBW – Finley Ueland 2-0, Bryn Boylan 1-1, Maddie Maio 1-1, Casey Reichwein 1-0, Dani Dundas 1-0, Lucy Varner 1-0, Liv Fitzgerald 1-0; A – Sam McGee 4-0, Casey McCallister 2-0, Kaley Enhow. Saves: CBW – Lauren Devlin 5, A – Kiki Brashear 9.
Top Photo: Abington’s Kaley Ehnow circles the goal looking for a shot as she is defended by Central Bucks West’s Rachel Shaw and Meghan Darcy during their game on Friday, April 21, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)