Garnet Valley has found its groove

CONCORD — Two weeks ago, the Garnet Valley girls soccer team sat at halftime against Penncrest, trailing by a goal and staring down the barrel of a fourth straight loss to start the season.

Just 14 days on from that contest, in which the Jaguars rallied for an impressive come-from-behind win in overtime, the team is riding high, having won seven straight. The latest installment in that run of good form, a 5-0 win over Marple Newtown Tuesday afternoon, showed just how powerful the wave of momentum is.

“I think the big difference is that we’re playing for each other and we’re actually really enjoying playing together,’ said central defender Jackie Sever, a focal point of a Jags defense that kept a fourth straight clean sheet. “We’re working as a team and keeping our high energy up. I think the first three games, we lacked energy and weren’t coming out as strong.’

Tuesday’s performance, one in which Garnet Valley (7-3, 5-1 Central League) kept Marple largely in check, was undoubtedly one from a confident side. The Jaguars scored within a minute of the start of each half. They carried a 3-0 lead into halftime, content to see out the win with their staunch defense. And as the five goalscorers attest, they were able to spread around the offense, getting contributions from up and down the roster.

“It was definitely a team effort, and everyone put in a lot of work for it,’ said forward Britney Dragoni, who was in the middle of several goals and was unlucky not to find the scoresheet herself. “You can’t do anything without everyone putting in effort, and it just definitely was a team thing. There were no individuals. We really took advantage of getting the goal and making good plays.’

On both sides of the ball, the pieces seem to be clicking for the Jaguars. The offensive onslaught started just 33 seconds into the game, with Emily Mathewson getting on the end of a loose ball in the box for her first goal of the season. Also getting her first tally of the season was reserve senior forward Kristen Garrity, who found a spinning, deflected ball played into the box, took a touch to round the goalkeeper and slotted home a shot into the open cage from an acute angle in the 27th minute to make the score 3-0.

The diversity in finishing has been a recent trend for Garnet Valley.

“I think all of it is confidence,’ Dragoni said. “You trust everyone on your team and you know everyone’s going to give 100 percent. It’s not like, ‘ oh, I’m not going to play it to her because I know she’s going to miss it.’ You have confidence in everyone because you’re a team and you trust each other.’

“We’ve taken so many more opportunities that we wouldn’t have if our confidence wasn’t up,’ forward Rachel Glenn said. “And now we know that we can score and we can get forward.’

Glenn capitalized on her chance, stepping to drive home a free kick from 22 yards out after Dragoni was felled near the edge of the area.

The wave of offense continued after halftime, with Madison Ireland scoring 29 seconds into the frame. Just for good measure, Ireland set up Eva Wenger for a shot that struck the underside of the crossbar and bounced in to set the final margin.

For all the attacking chemistry on display, the Jags were also able to hold firm when the Tigers (4-5-2, 2-4-1) came forward, as they did for sustained periods in both halves. Even without injured center back Jordan Ireland, the pairing of Sever and Taylor Buckley was more than equal to the task.

Goalkeeper Ashley Bufano made three saves in net. The closest Marple got to a goal came in the 53rd, when Megan Lynch headed wide of the post on a header back into danger by her sister, Julia.

Also in the Central League:

Penncrest 4, Upper Darby 0: Cassidy Moretti scored twice, and Olivia Mancarella and Carley Baillis also scored to make a winner of the Lions (9-2, 5-2).

Strath Haven 0, Radnor 0: Katie Fisher made eight saves to lead the Panthers on a day for the goalies.

Springfield 6, Ridley 0: Six Cougars scored on the day, including Katie Martin’s first of the season from the penalty spot, and Madison D’Ambrosio and Sheridan Hedrick combined on the shutout.

Sarah Boyle made nine stops for Ridley.

Conestoga 4, Haverford 2: Olivia Butera and Lisa Puliti found the back of the net, but the Fords couldn’t keep pace in a game that was 1-1 at the half.

In the Ches-Mont:

Sun Valley 3, Coatesville 0: Jordan Johnson, Emily Simpson and Casey Purfield scored first-half goals, and Amy Parker made two saves as the Vanguards (3-7, 1-6) coasted to their first league win.

In the Inter-Ac:

Agnes Irwin 6, Baldwin 3: Kristin Burnetta and Lydia Bartosh each scored twice to go with an assist, and Hannah Keating chipped in a goal and a helper for the Owls (3-0, 1-0).

Episcopal Academy 2, Penn Charter 2: Claudia Becker and Maria Kilcullen recorded goals for the Churchwomen in their league opener.

In the Tri-State Christian Conference:

Christian Academy 4, Pilgrim Academy 4: Grace Cryan recorded a hat trick, all assisted by Carli Sitkowski, but the Crusaders (4-1-2, 3-1-1) were unable to hold a 4-2 lead in the second half.

In the Bicentennial League:

Lower Moreland 4, Delco Christian 3: Julia Kyne scored two goals and added an assist, and Kailey Neef paired a goal with a helper, but an own goal in the 65th minute doomed the Knights (5-2-1, 3-1).

In nonleague action:

Archbishop Carroll 2, Merion Mercy 0: Juliet Rossetti scored two minutes apart in the first overtime period, and Alex Varricchio and Gina Hoenig combined on the shutout for Carroll (5-4).

Chichester 4, Bonner-Prendergast 0: Megan Carroll scored twice, Maddie Walsh and Kara Borowik added markers and Theresa Mignogna made three saves for the Eagles (3-7-1).

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