SPRINGFIELD >> Seconds after being hauled down in the box, Gia Dragoni gave a look to her big sister, Britney, before she walked toward the penalty spot.
The interaction wasn’t to ask permission for the kick from the elder sis, Garnet Valley’s leading scorer and an All-Delco last season. Instead, it was just for a pick-me-up.
“I’m not very good at PKs, and I was kind of scared,” the freshman Gia said. “She was just kind of reassuring me that everything would be OK.”
Everything on that kick turned out fine, Gia Dragoni converting to start the Jaguars on a 3-0 Central League victory over Springfield Thursday.
Britney Dragoni added a tally in the second half, providing a desperately needed boost for a Garnet Valley (2-3-4, 1-2-2 Central) squad that has been stuck in neutral to start the season.
Gia Dragoni draws PK, then converts it. 1-0 Garnet Valley in the 29th. http://t.co/tk2pkgW3U4
— Matthew De George (@sportsdoctormd) September 24, 2015
The Dragoni axis of attack was evident early for the Jaguars, with Britney operating as a central forward and Gia attacking down the right wing.
“I love playing with my sister,” Britney said. “We work really well together. We grew up playing soccer together; we’re only two years apart. We just have a different connection on the field.”
The pair created several chances in the first half, but the payoff was delayed until the 29th minute, when Gia went down under a heavy challenge in the box on a borderline call made by the trailing referee 50 yards behind the play.
Nonetheless, she stepped to the spot, sent goalkeeper Madison D’Ambrosio to the right and deposited her penalty off the inside of the left post and in for what proved to be the game-winner.
Britney continued the wave of momentum, scoring in the third minute of the second half after central defender Rachel Warden stepped up into the play, drew a defender and slipped in Dragoni behind the defense to tuck away the goal.
“We’ve been working a lot on moving off the ball in practice,” Warden said. “And I was kind of like, you know what, I’m not going to stop, I’m just going to keep going. And we really wanted to start off the half with a goal.”
Garnet Valley added the third just after the hour mark, with defender Alex Zecca getting in the way of Jenna Buttermore’s corner-kick delivery and deflected it off her thigh and in.
For a team that drew half of its games coming into play Thursday, putting matters to bed in the second half was a vital confidence boost.
“I think this is definitely the start of our new season,” Warden said. “I think that we had a little bit of lull in the beginning trying to find ourselves because we are really young, but I think that it’s finally clicking and we’re finally ready to start playing Garnet Valley soccer.”
Springfield, meanwhile, couldn’t get much going offensively. They troubled Ashley Bufano with just two shots, both of which she was easily equal to.
The Cougars’ best chance came six minutes before Zecca’s goal, when Noelle Morrissey delivered a free kick from 24 yards that she got over the wall but couldn’t quite coax to dip under Bufano’s crossbar.