High energy pays dividends for Episcopal Academy

Throughout the pre-season, Episcopal Academy girls soccer coach Celeste Sweeney stressed the importance of displaying high energy and playing together as a team.

Following her squad’s 4-1 win over visiting Friends’ Central Sept. 3, Sweeney reiterated how proud she was of the effort displayed against a talented side.

“It was awesome,’ said Sweeney, referring to the team’s performance. “It was exactly what the team needed. Today [Sept. 3] was a crazy day, being the first day of school and a lot going on. They came to the field focused, ready to play and put it together against a talented Friends’ Central team.’

Senior captain Lauren Repke added, “Today was a big win. We have a new team with a lot of youth. We have to play with more finesse this year and we did that today. Everyone stepped up and it was exciting to watch.’

Despite having a relatively young team, the Churchwomen went on the attack early and came close to taking an early lead just eight minutes into the match but FC junior keeper Caroline Fakharzadeh came up with the big save on a point blank shot from EA junior Jessica Shanahan.

Eight minutes later Shanahan would get the best of Fakharzadeh when she came down the right side before coming to a quick stop and going back to her left and one-timing a shot with her left foot that went top shelf to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.

“I was coming in and the defender did a god job of cutting me off and leaving me with only one way to go,’ said Shanahan, who is a natural right foot. “I had to cut back and shoot with my left foot.’

Repke added, “She (Jessica) is a great player who always hustles. Her and Tara (Boyle) will be a great combination for us up top.’

The Phoenix, who have flown to new heights of their own in recent years, tied the match with 18:05 remaining when Hayden Posencheg connected with Ava Forman, who tapped the ball past Taylor Long in the box.

The energy Sweeney preached throughout the pre-season seemed to rise to another level as the Churchwomen would tally the next three goals to provide the final margin.

Sparking the offense was EA’s ability to control the midfield. Along with Repke, the Churchwomen received a big lift from junior Lilly Shaner and sophomore Molly O’Brien.

With many tough games ahead, the start was everything Sweeney could hope for from a team comprised mostly of young players mixed with important senior leadership.

“It was great to come away with the win,’ Sweeney said. “Our ultimate goal is to play with energy and play together. If we continue to work hard in practice it will come out in matches.’

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