NEWTOWN – Winning by a lopsided score shows a team has talent. Coming from behind indicates it has character. In its recent 3-2 double overtime conquest of Bensalem, the Council Rock North women’s soccer team demonstrated it possesses a good deal of both qualities.
The Lady Indians entered the Bensalem tussle, boasting a 3-1 record. Their only league loss came at the hands of rival Council Rock South. The Owls, though greatly improved, were winless in the Suburban One League (SOL) National Conference. Despite the difference in their records, North knew not to take their opponent lightly.
First-year varsity starter and forward, Paige Addis, sensed the game’s importance. “Bensalem was a really important game for us. It served as our second test apart from Council Rock South. We knew they were going to be a physical team. We just had to make sure we kept our patterns. We have three home games this week so we wanted to start off with a win.”
Things looked a bit ominous for Rock as Bensalem jumped out to a 2-0 lead behind goals by Julia Murray and Emily Wineberg. A relatively inexperienced team, the Indians faced a big challenge. Only a sophomore, Paige appreciated her team’s youthful vulnerability.
“We’re a pretty young team. We don’t have a lot of experience but obviously seniors Mia (Scalamandre) and Becca (Margolis) are two amazing players and we try to build our program around them. When they’re playing well, we all play well.”
The two senior leaders took charge. “When the two goals were scored, it was very unexpected. We realized we needed to get our act together. The leaders on the team, Becca, Mia and Lily Ries in the back were screaming at us to get our heads straight.”
Though young, the Indians know the game of soccer. Getting their “heads straight” meant remembering to execute their assignments. “I think we all understand our roles and Gavin (head coach Gavin Flannigan) has done a great job getting us to understand that. It may be a young team but our program is still strong because we understand our roles.”
For Paige, that meant manning her forward position. “I’m more of a target forward. I’ll be checking to the ball and people can link it up with me to try and get all the players involved. Of course, my other responsibility is to score.”
In the 32nd minute of the game, Paige fulfilled responsibility number two when she tallied her first ever varsity goal. “The first one came off a corner from the right side. There was no one really on me so I took the ball from my chest and hit it into the top left corner.”
The goal proved a turning point. Six minutes into the second half, the Indians’ Kaleigh O’Donnell found the back of the Bensalem net to knot the score at 2-2. North controlled the play from then on but still could not finish the scoring until the dying seconds of the second overtime.
Once again, Paige provided the heroics, heading the ball by the Owls goalkeeper. “The second goal came off a corner on the same side as the first. At that time, no one was marking me and someone came fairly late as the ball was getting crossed. I used my height because I’m pretty tall. The ball was coming toward my head and all I had to do was flick it and it went in. It was the best feeling.”
The winning tally brought about a jubilant celebration as her Indian teammates swarmed the young star. “I felt a lot of emotion to just be able to finally get a goal. It was great just being able to win the game and having the feeling of all my teammates rushing to hug me was really cool. It’s not something I had experienced before.”
Not only had Paige scored her first varsity goal but she had achieved a childhood dream, playing for Council Rock North. “When I was little, I walked out with the varsity team and I liked those people and wanted to be there one day. I idolized them so.”
Now, it’s Paige’s turn to be admired by many a young aspirant. Still, she knows there is always room to grow in her own game. “We were all obviously happy we got the win but there are also things we need to improve on. Some of the chances I had I should have put in the goal. But the end result was a win and that’s what we hoped for.”
For Paige, the Bensalem game was just the start of what promises to be a most productive varsity career. For the North team, it was the beginning another strong showing in the Suburban One League.
TOP PHOTO: Council Rock North’s Heather McLaughlin (45) stretches out for free ball in Lady Indians’ recent comeback win over Bensalem. (John Gleeson – 21st-Century Media)