FALLS TWP. – For the second time this season, Pennsbury came out on top of Neshaminy, despite a slow start. The Falcons rebounded from an early 1-0 deficit to topple the Lady Skins 3-1 Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 10 on their home pitch.
At 8-1 in the Suburban One League (SOL) National Conference, three-time defending league champion Pennsbury (12-1-1 overall) has a chance to gain some ground on division leader Council Rock South, which is coming off its first loss of the season.
“This senior class said from day one that they wanted to have an opportunity to win a league title,” said Lady Falcons head coach Kaitlyn Battiste. “And that chance is still available on Thursday.”
While the Golden Hawks fell 1-0 to Ches-Mont League rival Downingtown West Oct. 9 at Wat Snyder Stadium, CR South is unbeaten in league play, however, and they toppled Pennsbury 2-0 the first time the sides squared off.
“The last time we played them, we were coming off of (a win over) Neshaminy, and they took it to us,” admitted Battiste. “They dictated the play.”
The coach knows the Falcons can’t come out slowly in Thursday’s battle at CR South and expect to come out ahead of the Hawks.
“We know going into Thursday, we can’t have that slow start,” the coach said. “We have to come out ready to go from the first whistle, all the way through the next 80.
“South is a disciplined team. We can’t just play a kick and run game,” added Battiste. “It’s going to have to be a team win.”
The coach is expecting a back in forth battle.
“Whatever team winds up going up, I don’t see it being a one-nothing game,” she said. “I think there’s going to be a lot of momentum going back and forth. It’s going to be a matter of controlling the play and our emotions.”
Pennsbury is coming off a 16-3 season and an 11-1 mark in the SOL, a mark that earned the Falcons a third consecutive National Conference title in 2016. The nine seniors on the team would like nothing better than to top off their careers with a fourth straight division title.
Led by midfielders Jenna Peters and Dani Cady, along with co-captains, Lizzy Kirk (6 goals/season), Hope Drewes and Riley Young, many of the Pennsbury players compete on the same club teams and some are going to be playing together in college, says Battiste.
“These seniors really like each other and there’s really good chemistry out there on the field,” the coach said. “They anticipate each other’s movements really well.
“It helps to have that kind of chemistry among your leaders on the team.”
While Pennsbury might have only three sophomores on the team, the trio is a highly talented group.
On Tuesday against Neshaminy (7-5-1 overall, 5-3-1 SOL National), with the score tied at 1-all in the 64th minute, Falcons sophomore forward Evie Ciaccia one-timed a cross from junior Christine Cataldo Smith (6 goals/season) into the back of the net for the game winner. Six minutes later, she repeated the feat on a cross that came in from the left side by Cady to put the game on ice. She leads the team with nine goals thus far.
“Evie is someone who is really starting to find her rhythm. Early in the season she wasn’t taking the best shots. She was shooting from further out and not getting many (scoring chances.
“Now here teammates are finding her in the box and she’s just burying them. She’s putting them away.
“She’s getting herself in great position to finish the ball. It’s awesome to see.
These sophs have found a way to fit in with a squad that is dominated by senior leadership, says Battiste.
With her team trailing Neshaminy 1-0 late in the first half, Pennsbury midfielder Gabby Zalot finally poked the ball home for the equalizer with less than two minutes to go before the break.
“Gabby is someone sees the field so well. She gives us so many dangerous opportunities on both sides of the ball. She’s just a tough little feisty player that really never gives up on anything.”
Between her height and her leg strength, Rosie Bostain doesn’t even look like a sophomore.
“You wouldn’t think she’s a sophomore the way she steps out onto the field. She plays with a lot of confidence.
“She makes her presence known, going up for 50-50 balls, winning headers, and going into tackles strong and not afraid to shoot from anywhere.”
The Falcons’ offense starts with superb midfield play coming from Cady and Peters. Both are headed to West Chester to play soccer.
“The outside play of Jenna (Peters) and Dani (Cady) – that’s something that we really pride ourselves on,” said Battiste. “I think they are some of the best midfielders in the league.”
“They create so much of our offense.
“Jenna leads our team with 11 assists.
“And if Dani isn’t getting the assist, she’s earning so many corner kicks for us that then become dangerous (scoring) opportunities for us.”
In the District 1 Class 4A Power Rankings, Pennsbury started the week ranked fifth and division leader CR South was sixth. The top eight in the D-1 AAAA Tournament earn first-round byes.
District 1 AAA champions in 2014 when there were less brackets, the Falcons have fallen in the D-1 quarterfinals the last two seasons.
NOTES: Additional Pennsbury players moving on to college include Lizzy Kirk (Seton Hall), Hope Drewes (Scranton) and Kelsey Butler (Thomas Jefferson).
Pennsbury 3, Neshaminy 1
(Oct. 10 at Pennsbury)
NESHAMINY GOALS: Kristin Curley, unassisted, 18th minute
PENNSBURY GOALS: Gabby Zalot, from Jenna Peters, 39th minute; Evie Ciaccia, from Christine Cataldo Smith, 64th minute; Ciaccia, from Dani Cady, 70th minute.
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