MIDDLETOWN — Logan Morris had seen her Penncrest team struggle to score goals this fall. And she had seen how much effort they’d put into trying to generate offense via set pieces.
So when she lined up a corner kick in the 36th minute Thursday of a Central League match with Haverford, and felt she really got hold of the delivery, she had a good feeling.
“There’s some that you can tell are off, and as soon as I hit that one, it felt like it should,” the senior said. “It felt good.”
It felt even better when her opposite outside back, Kenna Kaut, got on the end of it, getting her body on the ball to push it across the goal line, the only goal of a 1-0 win over the Fords.
“The ball just went right across the goal, and I was going off of (Penncrest forward) Amber Wolfe’s shoulder, so I could separate myself from my defender,” Kaut said. “It came right to me, and I just chested it in.”
Kaut’s goal helped upend a lot of early-season futility on the offensive end for the Lions. They had allowed just three goals in their first six matches, but they scored only twice, hence redoubling efforts on set pieces to find easy offense and fill the void left by last year’s Daily Times Player of the Year, Corryn Gamber. The attacking corps has trended younger this season, and injuries to three starters haven’t helped.
But Thursday, Morris forced the issue. She fizzled her corner kick hard and low into the box, forcing a decision from the Fords’ defense. Kaut was the quickest to react.
“We’ve been working a lot on them in practice, so it’s good to see one go in,” Morris said. “I usually try to seek Kenna out. She’s really good in the air. She’s a great attacker. I usually just look for her at the back of the box.”
“It was like a line drive, and it was kind of right past the six-yard line, so it was hard for me to get out, especially with all the numbers in the center,” Haverford goalie Alison Durfee said. “So I was kind of depending on my midfielders and defense to be able to cover, but it was mainly just the girl got to it first and it was just out of my reach, so I wasn’t able to get to it.”
Penncrest owned the better chances on the day, forcing seven saves from Durfee and a couple of desperation interventions in the box from Haverford’s active center back tandem of Britt Riegler and Rebekah Cunningham. Durfee charged off her line to stuff an attempt by Kara Mullaney just after the goal, and she was pushed to a full stretch to deny Gabby DiAntonio’s effort in the waning moments of the first half from the right channel.
PHOTO GALLERY: Haverford vs. Penncrest
Julia Mullaney also had several looks at goal from deep in midfield, including a two-hopper that caromed off the outside of the post in the 24th minute.
Penncrest’s defense, led by senior Sarah Hughes, mostly kept a lid on the danger posed by fellow All-Delco Annalena O’Reilly, who tracked deeper into midfield as the game progressed. The Lions created chances via its outside backs, Kaut and Morris, serving balls over the Haverford defense for Penncrest’s attackers to race their retreating markers. But more often than not, Penncrest’s finishing couldn’t crack the Fords’ defense.
Except, of course, on the corner-kick connection. And particularly for a team struggling to find goals, any breakthrough, no matter the style points, is welcomed.
“Any goal counts, like coach says,” Kaut said.
Also in the Central League:
Conestoga 3, Strath Haven 1 >> Ali Broome’s goal in the 44th minute halved a deficit straight out of the interval, but Strath Haven couldn’t complete the comeback.
Emily Wertz and Cali Courtney scored for Conestoga in the first 17 minutes, and Nia Scott iced the game with a 76th-minute tally for the Pioneers.
Garnet Valley 1, Ridley 0 >> Regan Nealon scored off an Alyssa Saito feed with five minutes to go as the Jaguars eked out the win. Kayleigh Saboja posted the shutout with three saves. Sydney Zimmerman denied seven shots in the Ridley cage.
Springfield 6, Upper Darby 1 >> Lanie Morris scored, then took a shift in goal, making three saves in the Cougars’ win. Aidan Gallagher, Caroline Walters, Emma O’Conner, Abby Peichel and Amanda Biehl also tallied for Springfield. Gabby Liberio got Upper Darby on the board in the first half.
In the Catholic League:
Cardinal O’Hara 0, St. Hubert 0 >> The Lions fired 11 shots at Alyssa Byrnes’ cage, but the Hubert keeper was equal to all of them. Kerry Patterson kept the zero for O’Hara with two saves.
Conwell-Egan 3, Archbishop Carroll 1 >> Kelliann Matey got on the score sheet, but that was all the offense for Carroll (3-4, 3-2).
In the Bicentennial League:
Calvary Christian 4, Christian Academy 0 >> Jordie Harvey turned aside nine shots, but Calvary’s offense was too much to slow down.
David Rodriguez scored in the first half, and Phil Nmah made 12 saves as Upper Darby notched a 1-0 win over Springfield. Chris Walters stopped 14 shots for Springfield.
In nonleague action:
Episcopal Academy 2, Lawrenceville School 0 >> Nate Hunter and Samuel Wilson scored off assists from Harrison Malone and Brendan DePillis, and Trevor Manion posted the shutout with eight saves for EA (6-0-1).
Church Farms 8, Glen Mills 3 >> Blake Humphrey, Jah’nique Hogan and Philip Berry scored, but the Bulls couldn’t keep pace with the Church Farm offense.
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