Christopher Dock tops Springfield-Montco, weather on Swartley’s goal

TOWAMENCIN >> After losing a couple of games last year due to a lack of open dates, Christopher Dock girls soccer coach Ray Hess really wanted to get this one in.

Sure it was windy, a bit cold and rainy, but if the Pioneers make the same kind of postseason run they’ve been used to recently, they’ll see that kind of weather again. Even with the adverse conditions, visiting Springfield Twp and Dock played a pretty good game.

In ugly weather, it was a beautiful strike from Dock’s McKenzie Swartley that provided the difference in a 1-0 win.
“We have a turf field, it cleared up a bit and it wasn’t too bad there for a while,” Hess said. “We might be having these same conditions in districts or states.”

“It was a little cold, but it was fun,” Swartley said.

Even with a sometimes horizontal rain, the referees had no problem playing the game, although in several ways it was done with two extra players. The wind played around with nearly every ball driven into the air and the turf, slickened by a day of rain, added more than a few yards to every skip of the ball.

Dock generated the majority of the scoring chances, but the Pioneers are also more used to playing on turf.

Springfield’s defense, led by sophomore center back Lindsey Smith did well to match the speed and physical play of Dock’s forward unit.

“I don’t think we played badly,” Spartans coach Suzette Wolf said. “We struggle on turf and that’s always going to be our problem because we don’t practice on turf but I won’t blame the turf because we played to the speed of the turf.”

Brooke Bozarth on the wing and Swartley in the middle were Dock’s offensive liaisons in the first half, moving the ball well on the slick surface and creating a handful of chances. Springfield’s Emily Cooney had a nice trackback run against Bozarth to stop a promising run, though Dock did win a corner on it.

Just as Springfield’s defense covered well, Dock’s back unit was very strong on a night where a single slip-up could easily have led to a goal. With Sharon Curtis and Mia Bevilaqua in the middle, the Pioneers didn’t put a foot wrong in front of freshman keeper Audrey Schweizerhof.

“We’ve got two outstanding players back there who can read the play pretty good,” Hess said. “Everybody is working together and playing really well together.”

Dock came out of the half looking like a team that had adjusted to the play of the ball. The Pioneers were able to turn a couple of near-chances from the first half into actual chances in the second half, getting the first five shots on goal of the period.

Again, a good number of the shots were coming out of the midfield as Smith did well to contain dangerous Dock forward Niki Clements. The Pioneers won a corner about halfway through the second half that would provide them the only score they would need.

Going against the wind, Bozarth still drove a quality ball into the box, which got directed out to Swartley on the left side. The sophomore hit the ball with purpose and intention, volleying to the opposite post where Springfield keeper Katie Fitz, who was otherwise stout, couldn’t get to it.

“One of the girls hit it out and I got a left-footed shot in,” the right-footed Swartley said. “We needed to shoot from outside of the box because it was a slippery ball.”

Swartley’s goal, and her other cracks on net, were an encouraging sign.

“She hasn’t been taking the shots, we’ve been letting the two forwards take the shots,” Hess said. “But I’m glad she cracked that one when it came off the corner kick. It was great to see her get in and she hit a couple others that went over the net.”

Midfield dynamo Emily Giampietro was Springfield’s most consistent attacking threat on a night where the Spartans had some trouble generating a lot of attack. The junior captain had shot blocked then a quick rebound skate wide a few minutes after the goal. She also forced a good save near the end of the match on a howitzer she hit with pace from outside the box.

While Springfield wrapped up a 1-2 week, it was 30 seconds away from tying Upper Dublin and beat Wissahickon, so there’s plenty to be pleased with.

“It was a tough week but a very successful one,” Wolf said. “We had three really tough games all in a row and now we can look forward to Monday when we play Lower Moreland.”

Dock also has an upcoming date with the Lions, arguably their biggest challenger for a BAL title. The Pioneers won the first contest but know they’ll get a top-tier effort from Lower Moreland in the second leg.

What is a positive for Dock is that a team that had to replace six impact seniors is starting to play consistently good soccer.

“I wish we’d practice a little better, but we’re pretty consistent when it comes to games,” Hess said. “We’ll see how it keeps going.”

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