George School going through growing pains

FAIRLESS HILLS – While the George School girls soccer team is coming off a winning season and a trip to the PAISAA Tournament, the squad graduated 10 seniors so that means players in new spots.

Additionally, the Cougars are under the tutelage of a new coach, Kyle Sanphy, a 2004 graduate of the school who takes over for the outgoing coaching duo of John Stevens and Robert Machemer.

Facing Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL) rival Conwell-Egan Catholic (CEC) Sept. 15 on the Lady Eagles’ home pitch, George School played well, though it still trailed by a 2-1 score at the final gun. Last year, when the battle took place in Newtown, CEC won by a 5-2 score.

In this one, Conwell-Egan got goals in each half – one from junior Lindsay Straka before the intermission and another from sophomore Carly Bonfig seven minutes after the Cougars tied the score in the 52nd minute at a goal apiece.

George School’s only goal in the game came on a pass from junior Jill Mikula to classmate Yasmeen Malik on a 2-on-1 break in front of the Eagles’ net. Malik made sure CEC netminder Maddy Terry had no chance after taking the feed from Jill Mikula.

“It was a really great goal; they communicated well and read each other’s mind,” said Jill’s sister, Paige Mikula, a sophomore midfielder for the Cougars. “And the play just went really smooth.”

Defensively, George School senior goalkeeper Annalise Jennings stopped over 20 shots to give her team a chance late in the game.

It goes without saying the Cougars, who fell to1-3-1 with the loss, are experiencing some growing pains, especially on defense. Looking for an anchor in the backfield, the coaches are utilizing several different players at center-back, looking for the right fit.

“We’re working some different formations in the back,” admitted Sanphy. “We’re trying a few different players back there to see what works.”

The coach also gave his troops a pep talk at the intermission, imploring them to play a more organized game after the break. George School did just that too, or for at least the first 20 minutes of the second half.

“The beginning of the second half was more of what I was hoping to see out of the girls,” said Sanphy. “We were able to string together a few passes, finally; it didn’t seem so back and forth.

“But after that first 15 or 20 minutes, it went back to the way play was in the first half.”

Defensive lapses were a problem throughout the contest. The team is just not working well in transition, the coach said.

“We were just getting caught up the field whereas the girls should have been running back, which allows the defenders to be in the right position.”

While Egan (2-2) dominated the first half, the Cougars actually gave themselves a chance to win after the break.

“The first half was more of a kick and run game,” said Paige Mikula. “We were just kicking it up and trying to run onto it.

“After we came together at halftime, we decided to start passing to feet, which was more helpful for us.”

“We got better as the game went along,” added Sanphy. “We just weren’t not able to finish a couple of chances we had late in the game.”

In the end, there were just too many holes in the defense in the second half.

“Our defense was just not connecting today,” said Paige Mikula. “We were trying to play more of a defensive game but we couldn’t get the ball forward to get another goal.

“The game could have gone either way. But we weren’t playing our best; we were playing down to their level.

“I think our transitions could have been better but it is what it is.”

As the new coach, Sanphy has set three goals for the revamped Cougars – improvement, sportsmanship and to win a Friends League championship.

Last season, George School bowed out of the postseason in the PAISAA Tournament quarterfinals.

Conwell-Egan Catholic 2, George School 1

(Sept. 15 at CEC)



GOALS: CEC — Lindsay Straka, Carly Bonfig; GS — Yasmeen Malik

ASSISTS: GS — Jill Mikula

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