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Abington gives its all, tops Souderton in District 1-3A 1st round

The Abington girls lacrosse team prepares for its District 1-3A first round game against Souderton on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Andrew Robinson/Digital First Media)
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ABINGTON >> Lauren Van Buren got her stick down, scooped up a ground ball just behind her team’s goal and took off sprinting.

She ran through Souderton’s attack, then the midfield and finally the Souderton defense before being knocked to the turf and picking up a bloody elbow for her effort. Van Buren had to come out, but it was no matter as freshman Shea Gormley came in kept up that same effort.

No matter who was on the field Tuesday, they gave maximum effort for the Ghosts and it went a long way toward their 7-5 win over Souderton in the first round of the District I 3A girls lacrosse tournament.

“What we needed most was to work together and really connect as a team because it’s our first year all playing together and with a new coach,” Abington senior Natalie McNamara said. “We saw (Souderton) earlier in the season when we were just starting out, but I think we came out strong today.”

The Ghosts topped Souderton 12-6 in their SOL American conference meeting earlier in the season, but both teams had changed a lot since then. For Abington, it was the bench gaining invaluable experience while gutting through a string of injuries.

That build-up of depth paid off on Tuesday, with most of the game played in the high 80s and the sun hammering down on Abington’s turf field. McNamara, who showed plenty of her own hustle in scoring a pair of goals, said the heat was an obstacle but one the subs helped overcome.

Abington coach Mary Liz Klepper was quick to pull off any of her players who needed a break while letting subs like Gormley, sophomore Grace Hinkle and freshman Sydney Furlong fill right in.

“Our bench has had to step it up and Grace and Shea have been doing a great job,” Klepper said. “They’re underclassmen who are just stepping it up whenever we need them.”

Abington controlled the pace of the game in the first half, whether it was off the draw control or ground balls. Souderton goalie Lauren Scott was a wall in net early, keeping the Ghosts off the board but the continued pressure finally broke through when Gormley scored with 18:48 left in the first half.

Scott made nine saves, but in the first half, the Indians defense wasn’t able to get to the ground balls off rebounds enough and it let Abington get secondary offensive possessions. McNamara scored on an eight-meter and Van Buren tacked on a goal to put the Ghosts up 3-0 and Souderton into a hole with 11:11 left before halftime.

“We had trouble maintaining possession, even when we came up with it, we were making some silly mistakes,” Souderton coach Nancy Offner said. “I think there were some nerves and jitters and followed by some sloppiness, it hurt us because we had a pretty good second half.”

Carlie Doughty finally got the Indians on the board with 7:01 left in the first half but Abington scored the next two goals. The first came when Van Buren fed Kaley Enhow and the second when McNamara put away a great pass by Taheera Rodgers with 12 seconds to play in the half for a 5-1 lead.

Abington maintained its four-goal lead throughout the early portions of the first half by trading goals with the Indians. After Jamira Mashore put the Ghosts up 7-3 with 15:12 left, the Indians seized tempo over the next 10 minutes, getting goals by Doughty and Randi Hess to cut the lead in half with six minutes left.

“It came down to knowing if we wanted to win this, we needed the possession,” McNamara said. “The last two or three minutes, it was give it all or you’re done so we pushed through with everything we had.”

Abington’s defensive unit also had a strong game anchored by Ellie Hughes’ seven saves and shutdown work from Anna Joseph and Becca Gable.

McNamara is one of just three seniors on the Abington roster, so the Ghosts are playing for the present and also the future with this postseason run. Heading to No. 1 seed Garnet Valley on Thursday is certainly an imposing challenge.

After losing a significant number of last season’s key players to graduation and getting to know a new coaching staff, McNamara said things came together about midway through the regular season. Getting into the postseason and even winning a first round game wasn’t a surprise to Klepper.

“When I first met these girls, I knew there was something special with them, I knew a lot of them hadn’t played but with time, we could build a team,” Klepper said. “We just had to get it going together, but I knew it from the beginning.”

Souderton’s season ends and with it, the careers of the Indians’ senior class. They led a steady growth in the program that ended with a 13-win season this spring.

“It’s been a lot of fun coaching these girls, especially the seniors, some who had been playing for eight years together,” Offner said. “It’s a good group of kids, a very motivated group and fun to be with. It was a good season for us.”

ABINGTON 7, SOUDERTON 5
SOUDERTON 1 4 – 5
ABINGTON 5 2 – 7
Goals-Assists: A – Lauren Van Buren 2-1, Natalie McNamara 2-0, Jamira Mashore 1-0, Kaley Ehnow 1-0, Shea Gormley 1-0, Teehra Rodgers 0-1; S – Carlie Doughty 2-0, Randi Hess 2-0, Anna Anello 1-0

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