Marple Newtown tries new formation, eases past Upper Merion

UPPER MERION >> At Marple Newtown High, the girls soccer team is using a new formation this year.

The alignment in question is the 4-5-1, a formation implemented primarily to improve the Tigers defense.

But Tuesday afternoon, that alignment gave a jolt to the Tigers offense as they overwhelmed host Upper Merion, 4-1, in a non-league match.

Julia Lynch scored three times for the winners, including a rare goal on a corner kick that went directly into the Vikings net, as the visitors overcame an early 1-0 deficit to ease into the win column.

“It was something we gave a lot of thought to in the off-season,” said Tigers head coach Erika Bayliss about the formation change. “We wanted something that would give us solid defense, but also generate offense.

“And the girls have been extremely receptive. We just had to be sure they were ready to run with it.”

At least Tuesday, the Tigers seemed ready.

Shaken early by a goal from Viking Elizabeth Goerdemann, Marple Newtown bounced back courtesy of Lynch, who took a corner from the left of goal that curled perfectly past Vikings goaltender Julia Loane.

“I knew, kicking from the left side, that the ball would kind of naturally curve in toward the net,” Lynch said. “I could see it had a chance as soon as I kicked it.”

Not content to rest on her laurels, Lynch put the Tigers in front later in the half when a free kick from about 25 yards handcuffed Loane, and the visitors were in front to stay.

The visitors threatened to add to their lead late in the half, but Loane, made a terrific leg save on Becca Ritchie from in tight, and the Tigers went into the break with the slimmest of margins.

“I thought our reaction (to the 4-5-1) was questionable in the first half,” Bayliss said, “but we fell into it in the second half.”

The second half began well for the Tigers who got an early goal from Megan Lynch, who beat Loane to a loose ball and chipped it into the net to increase the visitors’ lead. This came moments after the Vikings Rose Sedgwick beat two Tigers defenders and got a point-blank chance on keeper Halle Robinson, who covered it to preserve the lead.

The Tigers goal came as a by-product of their new formation working as it’s supposed to.

“With the new formation we want to get the ball up and through to the strikers,” Julia Lynch said.

Now two goals down when they could have been even, the Vikings slumped.

“We had trouble connecting with our passes, and our intensity wasn’t there,” said Vikings head coach Laura Himler. “(Marple) possessed more than we did, but that was because we weren’t connecting with any of our passes.”

Julia Lynch completed her hat trick in the later stages of the second half, and the Tigers were content with their day’s work.

“When they scored first, it had us on our heels,” Bayliss said. “But I also think it motivated us to use our formation to help the offense.”

As for the Vikings, Himler said it’s only a matter of time before her side comes alive.

“We’re 0-4 and we should be 3-1,” Himler said. “We played PW and Penncrest both very well.

“The talent is there, we just need it to fall together.”

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