The ball comes to the feet of Cam Lexow and for a second or two, a discernible hush falls over the Abignton bench.
Time and again, the Ghosts girls soccer team has seen Lexow take a mundane pass and do something brilliant with it so every time she gets the ball, they’re ready. From here on out, every match could be her last at Abington, the twilight of a special talent coming into focus.
Lexow has never won a playoff soccer game at Abington, so she knows every time the ball finds her, it may be time for another moment.
“Not playing puts me down, I don’t ever want to sit out,” Lexow said. “If I’m hurt, I don’t tell people I’m hurt because I want to stay in a game.”
As a freshman, Lexow fit right in to a pretty senior-heavy Abington team and helped that group make its first playoff appearance in a few years. But she never got into the game, forced to watch regulation and two overtimes on the bench with a knee injury. It didn’t stop Lexow from hobbling onto the field to take a penalty kick, but the Ghosts lost the shootout.
The next two years, they didn’t find that same magic and struggled in the SOL National conference even as Lexow continued to develop into one of the best players in all of the Suburban One League. As a sophomore, Lexow gave a verbal commitment to play at the University of Virginia, one she’ll make official later this year on signing day.
It’s been a recent trend where some highly touted players leave their high school teams to play for their club’s developmental academy. That route existed for Lexow, a co-captain who played club for the FC Pennsylvania Strikers, but it wasn’t one she wanted to take.
“My coach at UVA wanted me to play at a high level in club but I told him I wanted to play for my high school,” Lexow said. “Penn Fusion has the DA, which is the developmental academy and the Pre-DA so I told him I would play PDA otherwise I couldn’t play for my school. He allowed me to play a little bit lower, but I’m still training with the DA on the side. He also likes that I play basketball.”
At Abington, there’s a certain pride the school’s athletes take in representing their community. Lexow’s choice to don maroon and white, even if it didn’t translate to many wins as a sophomore or junior, made a statement to up-and-coming athletes.
One of them, sophomore Casey Touey, now shares the field with Lexow.
“It means so much, when I was going into high school I had a choice to go academy or Abington and I saw what Cam did,” Touey said. “I said ‘if she can do it, then I can too.’ She’s been like a big sister to me throughout this whole process and I’ve just learned from her the whole time.”
Abington coach Rick Tompkins has called Lexow the smartest player he’s ever coached and has cited the senior co-captain’s poise after several close games this season. In a 3-2 win on the road at Hatboro-Horsham, with the Hatters throwing waves of pressure at the Ghosts late, Lexow simply dropped in to play center back and cleared a ball off the line in the game’s final minute.
Tompkins, who played college soccer himself at Penn State, is excited to see what Lexow can do in the coming years at Virginia, but only after the Ghosts make their last playoff run with Lexow and her 10 senior classmates.
“She’s just different,” Tompkins said earlier this season. “Touey is just fast and she’s a handful while (senior Kailey) Horton is physical and will shield people off the ball. With Camryn, she’s not like that but she sees a ball and says to herself ‘that’s my ball,’ and just comes out with it on her foot.”
UVA coach Steve Swanson has historically recruited the suburban Philadelphia area well and Lexow will join several other Southeastern PA standouts in Charlottesville next fall. The Cavaliers will feature Glenside resident Megan McCool (Springside Chestnut Hill), Phoebe McClernon (Notre Dame) and Sydney Zandi (West Chester Henderson).
Soccer is Lexow’s main sport but she’s been a huge part of the Ghosts’ girls basketball team’s success the past four years. As a freshman, she got spot minutes as an athletic defender, but found her way into the starting lineup midway through her sophomore season and hasn’t left it. With Lexow in the mix, Abington has made states all three years and won the District I title her sophomore season.
Lexow doesn’t play basketball outside the high school season save for a couple pick-up games here and there at the gym, but she was still one of the team’s better 3-point shooters on last year’s state playoff team. Her defensive ability on the hardwood, where she’s also a team captain, has gotten more impactful as she’s gotten more confident on offense.
“Cam is one of the most unique kids I’ve ever met because she’s so confident in what she does, no matter what she does,” Abington girls’ basketball coach Dan Marsh said after a state playoff game last year. “We play her multiple positions all the time, ask her to do multiple things and she’s always able to do it. She’s a tremendous athlete and a tremendous kid, Cam has been one of the keys to this.”
Abington thrived in its first season playing in the SOL Continental, accruing a 13-1 conference record and the American championship. A 2-1 win over last year’s state runner-up Neshaminy secured the Ghosts of a first round bye and the No. 6 seed in the District I 4A tournament.
The Ghosts will play either No. 22 Central Bucks South or No. 11 Council Rock South on Thursday. Regardless of who advances, Lexow is looking forward to the chance to get her first postseason win.
“We’ve learned from a lot of games this year, Council Rock North when we were down and Upper Dublin when were down a couple times, those type of teams, you have to play to their level,” Lexow said. “I look at it as it’s not the end; we still have a long way to go. Until the last game, I’m in it to win.”
Touey said her favorite part of playing with Lexow is the way the senior always keeps her head up to scan the field and find whoever is open. Whether it’s Touey, sophomore mid Abby Bautista or any of the underclassmen on the back line, Lexow has tried to be uplifting and encouraging.
It means something to her to play for Abington, where she’s also a stellar student and Lexow doesn’t want players following the same path to not feel welcome.
“I wanted to make it known you could do both, that if you want to play in college, you don’t have to sit out and only play club,” Lexow said. “High school is an important part of your life, it may not always be as competitive as club, but it’s where you represent your family and your friends and it’s a part of your life.”
There’s at least 80 more minutes of soccer and an entire basketball season, but whenever it does end, it’s a safe bet people in Abington will still talk about No. 3 in the midfield after she’s gone.
“Cam’s an icon when it comes to Abington soccer,” Touey said. “I look at her and want to be like her so I’m sure other young soccer players she her and want to be like her too. I think she’s definitely influenced a lot of people.”
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