NEWTOWN SQUARE — Brianna Ferrell found the woodwork twice in the first half. She hit the left post in the first minute on a looping cross. She hit the crossbar in the 36th on a header. In a 1-1 game between her Marple Newtown Tigers and the visiting Springfield Cougars, Ferrell made sure to make her next chance count.
She had to wait awhile, but she delivered. Ferrell scored the golden goal 1:38 into extra time to give the Tigers a 2-1 Central League victory.
“I was thinking on getting it in the net this time,’ she said. “Beat the goalie, no posts, or anything.’
Holly Nicolardi, one of four Marple captains along with Ferrell, Danielle Collins and Amanda Goodyear, started the play with a throw-in. She found Julia Lynch on the right side of the field who took a touch by her defender and delivered a cross into the box.
“I was just making the run behind the defenders. No one was around me,’ Ferrell said. “I was wide open.’
She drilled the ball past a diving Madison D’Ambrosio with the outside of her right foot.
It was a just result. Marple (4-2-2, 2-2 Central League) controlled most of the 80 minutes of normal time. The Tigers attempted 20 shots on goal to the Cougars’ five. Nicolardi and Ferrell were forces all night, the former in particular.
Nicolardi spent last season recovering from a left ACL tear.
“I went to physical therapy three times a week for six months,’ she said. “It was a long time.’
On Tuesday night, the only sign of an injury was the brace that stabilized her left leg.
“She has worked tirelessly to come back and make a name for herself,’ first-year Marple coach Erika Baylis said of Nicolardi. “She wants to win so bad, and she just controls that midfield.’
Such is Nicolardi’s worth that Baylis moved her to striker to rest her rather than removing her from the game entirely.
That’s not to say Nicolardi takes it easy when she leads the attack. She nearly gave the Tigers a second half lead with a spectacular half-volley from 35 yards. D’Ambrosio, with one of her five saves, was able to tip the shot over the bar.
Ferrell displayed similar versatility in the match. She lined up on the right side of the midfield to start, but rotated to the middle and up to forward as the game played out.
Baylis praised the two seniors.
“(Ferrell) can play anywhere. She can make a run down the side, she can play up top, she can control the midfield. [Nicolardi] too,’ the coach said. “These girls definitely set the pace for the team. They feed off each other.’
Despite playing most of the game in its own end, Springfield (3-4-1, 1-2-1) took an early 1-0 lead. Bridget Whitaker volleyed home a cross from Shynelle Fry nine minutes into the first half. The advantage was short lived. Morgan McWilliams equalized for Marple 22 seconds later.
Whitaker had the best chance to end the game in regulation when she found herself alone on Marple keeper Amanda Goodyear with 11 minutes remaining. But she fired high and wide from the edge of the box. The Cougars attempted just two shots in the second half.
“We came out extremely flat,’ Springfield coach Lindsay Rowland said. “The way you start a game dictates how you play.’
Baylis, who watched her girls miss chance after chance during normal time, was pleased with the Tigers’ play.
“They brought an intensity tonight,’ she said. “It was a great effort — our first night home game. They weren’t taking a loss.’