NEWTOWN – If there is such a thing as a pitcher’s duel in baseball, then Wednesday afternoon’s field hockey clash between Suburban One National League rivals Council Rock North and visiting Abington was a goaltender’s battle.
Moments before the Lady Indians connected on a penalty corner with 4:07 remaining in overtime for the game’s only goal, CR North sophomore goalkeeper Kyra Deehr-Lewis utilized a diving save to completely stone Ghosts forward Grace Terrizzi on a corner-opportunity for the visitors.
On the Indians’ next drive into opposing territory, CR North junior midfielder Hannah Barsky slapped a feed from classmate Bridget Thompson into the back of the cage, handing the Rock a hard-fought 1-0 victory Sept. 13 on the turf at Walt Snyder Stadium in Newtown.
“The game came down to who was going to be able to execute a corner and get it into the circle with a limited amount of defense,” said Abington first-year head coach Katie Small. “When the corner first came out, we were able to knock it out of the circle but they knocked it back in. A melee ensued and they were just able to put the ball past us.
“When you have that type of momentum going into the circle, we fell back on our heels and they were able to put it between the posts.”
The Indians played an even first half – the shots on goal were three, each – before the Ghosts took the momentum after the intermission. Abington outshot the home team 6-3 in the second half including a well-placed shot by junior Natalie MacNamara in the waning moments before overtime.
With five seconds remaining in regulation, the recent transfer from Mount Saint Joseph launched a shot that had eyes for the top right corner of the cage. Deehr-Lewis was equal to the task, however, making a left-handed save with her blocker to send the battle to an extra session.
“I wasn’t letting them score with five seconds left,” said Deehr-Lewis, the team’s 2016 JV goalie who is playing her first year in a starting role on varsity.
Mackenzie Greiner – starting netminder for the Ghosts – was equally as good as Deehr-Lewis between the pipes.
“Their goalie was phenomenal,” stated CR North coach Heather Whalen. “She stopped three point-blank shots that in any other game, Bridget (Thompson) is putting those in.”
In the opening minute of overtime, Barsky passed the ball forward to Thompson and while her shot was blocked by Greiner, the play garnered the first penalty corner for CR North. The shot by Nikki Jackson went wide of the net on the ensuing play, but the Indians seemed to be gain momentum from the scoring chance.
That might have all went for not had Abington been able to convert on its penalty corner five minutes into overtime. That’s when MacNamara sent a cross to Terrizzi, who was all alone staring at an empty box on the left hand side of the cage. The pass blew past Terrizzi, however, allowing the Rock faithful to breathe a collected sigh of relief.
On the Indians’ next drive up the field, midfielder Sarah Scott sent a crossing pass toward Barsky that just missed on the connection. On the Ghosts’ next possession, Deehr-Lewis stoned the enemy and also had some help from the post on an ensuing shot.
That sent the Rock back the other way and Barsky completed a flurry of shots that started with Scott’s initial backhand toward the visitor’s cage.
“Hannah Barsky is just one of the most amazing players on this team,” said Deehr-Lewis. “We really needed this win.
“Losing wasn’t an option,” added Barsky. “All we could imagine was winning and we just really wanted it more than them.”
One of just three returning starters for CR North, Barsky is performing a new role this season for the Indians at defensive midfielder. Last year, she played on the back line.
Coming through on defense to help ensure the shutout were Sarah Everett – the only player on the team returning to her previous position in the lineup – on the left, and Kate McQuarrie on the right. A forward for the Indians last season, Jackson anchors the defense in the center, and she came through by marking MacNamara throughout the contest.
“MacNamara is on my club team so I know her from there,” said Whalen. “She’s a phenomenal player and Nikki was on her the whole game and she shut her down today.”
The three forwards starting in this game were Scott, Celie Burke and Anna McQuarrie, who earned her first start with her previous play against sister school CR South.
“Anna had a phenomenal game; she got a lot of corners for us today,” said Whalen. “I was really proud of her, she was listening and she did a great job.”
Attacking midfielders playing in a starting role for the Rock include Thompson, Sabrina Green and Jess Kusters. A senior, Kusters played hurt throughout all 71 minutes of the contest.
“She came out a little in the second half to ice it but she played the whole overtime,” said Whalen. “She just powers through it; it’s unbelievable.”
CR North takes the field for the first time without the services of 2017 graduates Julianne Mangano (Cornell), Anna Lehman (Lehigh/Lacrosse) and Claire Jarema (Bryant/Lacrosse) – all of whom garnered first team All-SOL National Conference honors last year. That left the Indians no choice but to start a pair of freshmen and five sophomores playing for the first time in starting roles on varsity.
With wins over Truman, Bensalem and now Abington, the Rock is holding its own, now 3-1 in the SOL National division.
Whalen gives credit to assistant coach Lauren Bernard, a Neshaminy grad who played at Longwood, for improving the play of goalies Alexa Sperling and Deehr-Lewis. “They went over different techniques – dives – for hours yesterday and it really showed today,” said Whalen.
CR North has two losses thus far – to two-time defending PIAA champion Emmaus and sister school CR South. The Indians last made it to states in 2014 after a fourth-place finish in districts that year.
Council Rock North 1, Abington 0
(Sept. 13 at CR North)
CR NORTH (3-2, 3-1: SONL) 0 0 1 – 1
ABINGTON (3-3, 1-3: SONL) 0 0 0 – 0
GOALS: CRN — Hannah Barsky (70:53); A — none
ASSISTS: CRN — Bridget Thomspon; A — none
SHOTS: CRN — 7; A — 11
SAVES: CRN — Kyra Deehr-Lewis 11; A — Mackenzie Greiner 6