LANSDALE >> The seniors of the Lansdale Catholic girls soccer team don’t need any extra motivation.
In every trying moment of preseason, during every intense workout session in the offseason, every time their energy and heart wasn’t all the way in it, they were reminded. They only needed to be reminded of the way their season ended last fall and all the motivation was back.
After losing to Archbishop Wood in overtime in the Philadelphia Catholic League title game last year, the Crusaders are determined to change the script this fall.
“It’s something (coach Tom O’Donnell) has put in the back of our minds,” LC senior co-captain Rose Stella said. “We all have it in the back of our minds too that we do not want a repeat of last year.”
“It stays with us, with think of it all the time,” senior co-captain Kate Henesey added. “It’s almost haunting us.”
The loss to the Vikings, who LC considers is archrival, not only denied the Crusaders a PCL title, it kept them out of the state tournament.
“For some of us, this is the last year playing soccer after a long career, some of us are playing in college, but it’s not going to be the same,” LC senior co-captain Sarah Cooney said. “Last year left a sore mark on everyone and we don’t want that to happen again so we’re doing everything we can.”
LC rolled over visiting Bishop McDevitt 9-0 on Monday, with Henesey netting a hat-trick and assist and sophomore Taylor Connelly scoring two goals with an assist to lead the effort. While it was a match LC controlled, scoring five times in the opening seven minutes, the Crusaders have been tested already.
The Crusaders lost their opener to Penn Charter 4-2, but bounced back to top Abington 5-4 with a furious second half rally after falling behind two goals and netting three in eight minutes to pick up the win. While the PCL schedule presents its challenges, LC has loaded its nonleague slate to test itself.
“It shows us what we’re capable of and what we can look forward to,” Henesey, a Bucknell recruit, said. “It also shows us our strengths and weaknesses.”
“It shows if we keep working hard, we can have good results,” Cooney added. “I think the underclassmen got their feet under them in those first few games and it showed them if we keep persisting, we can find our way back.”
Lansdale Catholic will test itself plenty this week starting with a Tuesday visit to Souderton under the lights. LC travels to Conwell-Egan, which has played the Crusaders tough the last few years, on Thursday then finishes the week with a Friday visit to Wissahickon and a Saturday morning visit to Boyertown.
The Crusaders also have nonleague games with Pennridge and Methacton scheduled. They host Archbishop Wood on Sept. 28, a match all three co-captains are very much looking forward to.
LC, which made the state tournament in 2015, returned a fair amount of talent but also graduated most of its midfield and sent most of its graduated players on to play in college. Stella pointed to the team’s adaptability as one of its top assets this season.
“The majority of us come from clubs teams and have been playing for a long, long time and it becomes easy for us to adapt to these high-level teams,” Stella said. “We’ve been playing high-level most of our lives.
“When one person is on, we’re all on. We’re very good at connecting and communicating and very good at pushing each other to do what’s needed.”
Henesey added she feels every player on the field is a scoring threat but also capable of defending and playing in the midfield if needed. Cooney cited the team’s offseason training, which focused plenty on strength and condition, as already making an impact.
The senior defender continued by saying LC players are more aggressive, they’re running after and winning 50/50 balls and it’s made them more prepared. That extra emphasis was driven in large part by last year’s finale and the captains admitted that drive might have been lost on some of the newcomers early on.
“Some of them weren’t even at the (PCL title) game last year and we keep talking about it but we’re trying to really emphasize this means a lot to us,” Cooney said. “We just want them to give their all because it’s all that we can do ourselves so it’s what we can ask of them.”
While LC knows every game is important this season, there’s one that has just a little more meaning than the others. With Wood being the closest PCL school to LC, most of the players on the two teams know each other well, some are even club teammates and every time they meet, there’s plenty at stake.
It’s the biggest home game on LC’s schedule and Cooney hopes the faithful mass a big crowd that day.
Make no mistake, the Crusaders will be fired up for that one.
“Wood better watch out,” Henesey said.
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