Abington and William Tennent mirror in draw

WARMINSTER >> Some games just seem destined to end as a draw.

In the case of the Abington and William Tennent girls soccer game Monday night, a draw was a perfectly apt ending.

Both teams played scrappy and tough with an emphasis in the midfield in a 2-2 double overtime draw.

It was just one of those games.

“I think it was even throughout the whole contest and it was always going to be a close game,” Tennent coach James Barry said. “We were thinking it would be won by one goal either way. When we went up on our second goal I thought we were going to win it.”

The first half did little to dispel the notion these teams were on equal footing. Aside from nearly identical statistical lines at the break, neither team could definitively say it dictated the game.

“It was a very competitive game, they’re scrappy and we are too,” Abington coach Rick Thompkins said. “We’re pretty evenly matched teams.”

Of course, the Ghosts did have the one big advantage at half. Thanks to Camryn Lexow, they were winning. The freshman winger scored with a sensational strike to the far post through a tight angle near the endline.

To get there, they had to endure a few strong chances by Tennent. Panthers sophomore winger Nicole Reh was influential early in the game, putting two good shots on net and using her long throw to create a few other opportunities.

Brianna Broccardi’s corner kicks also put Tennent in place to score but Sarah Richie pushed a header wide and had another effort stuffed by keeper Ashley Hopper.

Abington’s hard-nosed midfield was the answer, thanks to Lexow, a freshman who certainly doesn’t play like it. On the other flank another freshman in Gianna Beck was quite effective while the trio of Tess Nelson, Maddie Doyle and
Julia Guarini were a solid combo.

“Julia is a difference maker as an offensive force,” Thompkins said. “Tess Nelson did good hard work settling things down.”

The Ghosts were hit hard by injury before the season even began, losing four prospective starters for the season, including keeper Destiny Walters.

On the other side, the Panthers have a few knocks of their own, including defensive stalwart Shannon Mueller. But they’ve continued to battle, just like they did in the second half after Lexow scored with 1:29 to play in the first half.

“The start of the second half was really good,” Barry said. “To go down a goal and then to come out so quickly in the second half shows the fight and character that is there.”

As even as the midfields were, the back lines were also pretty even. Senior Toni Washington led Abington’s defense alongside Kathryn Gerhard while Broccardi and Leah Mitchell paced the Tennent defense.

Reh’s long throws helped win Tennent a corner kick 12 minutes into the second half, putting Broccardi in position to drive in another ball. This time, it found senior Emily Wasserlieben, who headed it down and right to sophomore Ashley Rivera, who calmly tapped it in to equalize.

The Panthers jumped ahead when Shannon McGuinn capitalized on a mis-hit clearance and was able to chip the keeper for the go-ahead goal.

“I liked that we matched them physically,” Barry said. “We didn’t let their midfielders break in behind us very often and we competed with them. I was happy with the effort tonight.”

Putting together something that worked hasn’t been easy this season for the Ghosts, especially with their injuries. But, one thing the team does have is heart.

Guarini, the tough-as-nails senior, played the game with a thick black-and-blue mark under each eye, the war wounds from a knock earlier this season. Obviously, it’ll take more than that to stop her.

“I was keeping it positive, trying to keep everyone up,” Guarini said. “I knew we could get back into it if we played well as a team.”

Doyle went down with an ankle injury and didn’t finish the game, but yet another freshman, Kailey Horton, came in and played well in relief.

About seven minutes after Tennent went up, the Ghosts won a corner of their own and caught the Panthers defensively. A short corner went to Guarini and the senior was able to weave along the endline before zipping the tying goal into the net.

“Every time we get the ball if there’s just one player, we try to do at least one-on-one or go one-on-one and pass out to take a shot,” Guarini said. “That’s ultimately what we’re looking for, a shot.”

Barry felt his team is in good position even with the draw and he feels the Panthers will get stronger as some of their sidelined players return to health.

The Ghosts won just four games last year, but are 3-2-1 at the moment, showing their youth movement has brought in talent to accentuate the gritty veterans.

“We’ve been pretty bad over the years but this is a pretty talented group and they bought in early to what we were trying to do system-wise,” Thompkins said. “From there it was just getting the personalities to gel.”

As maybe their toughest player said, all they’re looking for is a shot.

“We just work together,” Guarini said. “We kept going and practicing, learned how to play together and adapted.”

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