SPRINGFIELD >> Haverford High field hockey coach Christa Taylor only had one piece of advice for her players on the bus ride to Tuesday’s Central League showdown at Springfield.
“She said if we lost, Thanksgiving would be awkward,” junior Sydney Corcoran said.
You’re probably wondering what does a game on Oct. 10, which Haverford won, 3-0, have to do with a holiday that is more than a month away. It’s a fair question.
This was no ordinary league game. This was a showdown for family bragging rights.
Christa Taylor is married to former Haverford High football player and current Upper Dublin assistant football coach Eric Taylor, whose sister, Hope Taylor-Scott, is in her first year as the field hockey coach at Springfield.
“We always joke about bragging rights at Thanksgiving,” Taylor-Scott said. “We always have dinner and Eric and Christa’s house the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. They always have more than 100 people there. Then I host a smaller version at my house (in Springfield) on Thanksgiving. So it definitely makes for good conversation.”
Squaring off against her sister-in-law wasn’t the only tough part for Hope-Taylor, who was an assistant coach for five years before being promoted to the top spot. She’s a 1994 Haverford High grad, so this was her first game against her alma mater as a head coach.
“That makes it a little stranger for me,” Taylor-Scott said. “It makes it easier when we play here than when we play at Haverford. It always feels really weird to walk on their field and play there.”
With former Springfield football coach Rick Taylor, Hope’s father and Christa’s father-in-law, looking on, Christa earned bragging rights for this holiday season thanks to a pair of goals from Corcoran, one from Kelsey Knapp and another outstanding effort by the Haverford defense.
Corcoran, who has committed to Old Dominion, put home a rebound off a shot from Ellie Kent 3 minutes, 12 seconds into the first half. She blistered a shot past Springfield goalie Ashlyn Steinstra with 19:44 to play in regulation to give the Fords (13-2-0 overall, 9-1-0 Central League) a 2-0 lead.
“I knew that being on grass I knew it had to be lifted,” Corcoran said. “I was in the right place at the right time.”
The second tally was a dribble and shoot beauty that came after several unsuccessful corners.
“You really have to hit it a lot harder when you’re on grass to get it into the back of the cage,” Corcoran said.
Knapp made it a three-goal cushion a little more than five minutes later. The defense, led by Megan Phillips, Amber Moscoe and Shannon Quaile, took care of the rest. Goalie Mary Grace DePlato only had to make three saves to help the Fords extend their winning streak to four games.
“This team has a little different makeup, even though we have a lot of returning starters,” Taylor said. “They’re playing with a whole different level of maturity and a whole different level of teamwork. Our passing game has really improved.”
Many of the Fords are teammates in the Horizon club program and many went to camps over the summer. The improved teamwork, though, starts with one, basic principle.
“We’re talking more,” Knapp said. “Last year we were more like ball hogs, but this year we’re looking up more and passing more. We want to win. That’s why we’re connecting more.”
That togetherness has Haverford sitting pretty. The Fords are second in the District 1 Class 3A power ranking with three games to play. The only team ahead of them is undefeated Downingtown West. Haverford’s only losses have been to Central League leader Conestoga and Merion Mercy, two of the top teams in the area.
“We played with a little more intensity today,” Christa Taylor said. “We were a little flat against Rustin last Friday so it was nice to see a little more intensity as we head toward the playoffs. … You can’t win playoff games by just playing OK.”
The same can be said for family bragging rights. The Cougars hung tough, but the Fords were just a little better, which means Thanksgiving dinner will not be an awkward affair in the Taylor house in Haverford.
“I didn’t want to hear about it,” Taylor said with a smile.
Elsewhere in the Central League:
Ridley 4, Lower Merion 2 >> Olivia Dorrin and Meghan Lynch led a second-half surge that gave the Green Raiders (3-12, 1-8) their first league win of the season.
Dorrin scored twice and Lynch added a pair of assists to help Ridley pull away in the second half. Allison Whaley converted a pass from Lynch to put the Raiders ahead to stay. Lynch also scored once, while Corrinne Stratton chipped in with a pair of goals.
Strath Haven 2, Harriton 2 >> A goal by Harriton’s Lily Silvergeld’s with six minutes left in regulation force the Rams and Panthers to settle for an overtime draw.
McKenzie Raech put home a pass from Olivia Fender in the first half to get the Panthers (6-6-2, 5-3-1) on the board.
Katie Capalbo converted a pass from Tess Bailey in the second half to give Strath Haven a 2-1 lead. Golie Kay Walker stopped 13 shots for the Panthers.
Garnet Valley 2, Upper Darby 1 >> Kendall DiCamillo and Ciara Burke scored in the second half to lift the Jaguars over the Royals. Holly Crothers (one save) and Megan Finnegan (0 saves) shared time in goal for Garnet Valley.
Marie Smith scored for Upper Darby off an assist from Grace Muldoon. Goalie Mariama Keira turned back five shots for the Royals.
In the Catholic Academies League:
Gwynedd Mercy 5, Sacred Heart 2 >> Danie Santora and Isabella Chan tallied one goal each, while Colleen Visser made 12 saves in goal for the Lions (7-9, 3-8).
Alden Bocella had all five goals for GMA.
In the Del Val League:
Interboro 4, Academy Park 0 >> Bri Mathis and Ro Murphy led the way for the Bucs with one goal and one assist apiece. Molly Dowling and Jenn Schreiber added one goal each, while Sophia Harley (four saves) posted the shutout.
Goalie Taylor Zane stopped 13 shots for the Knights.