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Nigro pokes home equalizer as Carroll, O’Hara duel to wild draw

RADNOR >> Lauren Nigro could only throw her head back in disbelief in the 71st minute.

The Archbishop Carroll midfielder witnessed teammate Abby Wick’s effort from the edge of the six-yard box strike the crossbar flush, then Nigro’s follow up from near the penalty spot appeared ticketed for the far side netting. That is, before Cardinal O’Hara goalkeeper Kerry Patterson flew in to parry it around the post for a corner kick.

With Carroll trailing by a goal and the clock ticking away, Nigro took it upon herself to atone.

Archbishop Carroll’s Lauren Nigro (15) and Cardinal O’Hara’s Maura Hendrixson (8) battle for control of the ball in the first half of their Catholic League matchup Monday afternoon. Nigro scored the equalizer late in the second half of a 2-2 draw. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

“I wasn’t really expecting it, so I tried to put it on frame as best as possible, but it just didn’t go in,” she said. “So going into the corner kick, we just needed all the momentum possible.”

Nigro made good on her second opportunity, toe-poking home a Paige Mastripolito cross for the final goal of a wild second half, leaving the Catholic League rivals on even terms at 2-2 after overtime.

Mastripolito opened the scoring three minutes into the second half, following a sleepy opening 40 minutes in the unseasonable heat. Goals by Rylee Nugent and freshman Sheila Bennetta nudged O’Hara ahead, but Nigro broke the Lions’ defensive resolve with eight minutes to play.

“The ball came right in front of me and I just hit it as hard as I could, and we got it in,” she said. “… I definitely wanted it back, especially after that rough one.”

“Lauren’s definitely one that if she misses, she won’t miss the second one,” Mastripolito said. “She’s a finisher.”

The closest thing to a finishing touch on the game was nearly provided by O’Hara midfielder Maura Hendrixson in the final minute of overtime. Her looping volley struck the crossbar flush over a helpless Grace Gallagher in the Carroll goal and bounced out of the net, the defense clearing to safety just before the final whistle.

“I literally jumped,” Nugent said of Hendrixson’s late shot. “I can’t believe it hit the bar. She usually makes shots like that, and I thought it was going in.”

A sedate first half was electrified quickly out of the interval thanks to the speed of Mastripolito. The Patriots (5-5-1, 2-3-1 Catholic League) had struggled in the first half to thread the proper ball into the quick junior striker’s path.

But Nigro dialed up the correct weight on a pass in the 43rd to find Mastripolito in space down the left flank. She took two quick touches before chipping a 30-yard effort over the head of Patterson and into goal.

“They kept stopping us on that ball,” Nigro said. “But once we got it through, we felt confident with Paige’s speed to get up there and hopefully get a shot on frame.”

Archbishop Carroll’s Madison Henry, left, and Cardinal O’Hara’s Sheila Bennetta battle for possession in the second half Monday. The freshman Bennetta scored in what went down as a 2-2 draw between the Catholic League rivals. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

When O’Hara (4-3-3, 4-0-2) needed its spark, it turned to the youngsters on the roster. Freshman Marrissa Lobb set the tone with her bombing runs down the left wing. One such move eventually filtered the ball back to the left side, where Nugent stepped up from her spot deep in midfield to volley a majestic arcing shot that evaded Gallagher.

“It bounced back and it was perfect to where I was,” Nugent said. “I had no one around me and I took a touch and I just shot and I hoped for the best. … I really just hoped. I didn’t think it was going in.”

O’Hara’s second goal was provided by the youthful delegation on both ends. Lobb drew a free kick from 35 yards out that Hendrixson lofted into the box. Gallagher, under duress, fumbled the catch as she tried to control, allowing Bennetta to pounce and bundle it over the line. The finish wasn’t pretty, but it was a lead in the 58th minute.

“We have some very good freshmen, probably the best I’ve seen all four years,” Nugent said. “They’re quick, they’re really good and really intense.”

The result is a second consecutive draw for the Lions, who still haven’t lost a Catholic League match. Carroll, which is dealing with a spate of injuries including to top scorer Rachel Matey, has had a rougher got of the schedule, which increases the satisfaction with Monday’s yield.

“I think we played a great game,” Mastripolito said. “I know we’ve had a few losses, so we’re happy with a draw.”

Also in the Catholic League:

Conwell-Egan 2, Bonner & Prendergast 0 >> Kayla McLaughlin stopped 12 shots, but Carly Bonfig beat her for a pair of goals as the Eagles prevailed.

In the Central League:

Penncrest 1, Haverford 0 >> Morgan King scored the game’s only goal in the second overtime as the Lions remained unbeaten on the season.

Springfield 2, Upper Darby 1 >> Dana Carlson and Cathleen Walters scored after halftime, and Molly Ryan made the tallies stand up with three saves in the win.

Jaclyn Castell scored for the Royals off a feed from Gabby Liberio. Alyssa Hanrahan made six saves.

Marple Newtown 1, Lower Merion 0 >> Becca Ritchie set up Anna Gries for the only tally, and Mackenzie Hilden posted the clean sheet with eight saves for the Tigers (3-6, 1-4).

Garnet Valley 1, Ridley 1 >> Anna Charitonchick scored in the second half, and Sydney Zimmerman made six saves for the Green Raiders.

Hannah Burrell notched the Jags’ goal. Kayleigh Saboja turned aside four shots.

Radnor 2, Harriton 1 >> Sophie Muetterties and Cat Belveal scored on either side of halftime as the Raiders claimed a victory.

In the Ches-Mont League:

Sun Valley 5, Coatesville 3 >> Chiara Robinson paired two goals with two assists as the Vanguards opened up a game that was tied at two at the half. Samantha Bowen added a goal and an assist.

In nonleague action:

Interboro 5, Norristown 0 >> Faith Sabre scored twice, and Cassidy Chadwick and Kerri Barnett each added a goal and two assists for the Bucs (4-5). Taylor Newcomb provided a goal and a helper.

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