Henesey’s 2 goals help Lansdale Catholic fend off Conwell-Egan in PCL quarters

LANSDALE >> Beating a team once is hard enough, so trying to do it again is always a tough proposition.

But when the future of the season is on the line, there’s usually enough to draw that extra incentive out to find a win. Such was the case for the Lansdale Catholic girls’ soccer team when it hosted Conwell-Egan in a Philadelphia Catholic League quarterfinal Thursday.

Forward Kate Henesey bagged a brace, her 27th and 28th goals of the year, and the defense did enough to hold on for a 2-1 win.

“We could have come out harder,” Crusaders senior Tara Sheridan said. “We only beat them 1-0 (in the regular season) but everyone thought we could beat them so it was a little nerve-wracking.”

Bob Raines--Montgomery Media Lansdale Catholic's Lena Starpoli kicks the ball past Conwell-Egan's Maddy Wojton Oct. 22, 2015.
Lansdale Catholic’s Lena Starpoli kicks the ball past Conwell-Egan’s Maddy Wojton during their PCL quarterfinal contest on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. (Bob Raines/Montgomery Media)

Egan had little to lose in the game. As the sole Class A team in the PCL playoffs, the Eagles already assured themselves of a place in the District 12 title game. For LC, a loss would have meant the end of the season and the loss of a chance to face Archbishop Wood, a winner over St. Hubert in another quarterfinal, again for the right to play in the PCL championship game.

Eagles coach Andy Adameic, aware of LC’s potency on offense, opted to open up in a 4-5-1, putting his lone striker at a disadvantage trying to create shots but also giving the Crusaders numbers to navigate through in the midfield. LC had the run of play early on, with Henesey putting a shot on frame after a great cross by Sarah Opdyke.

Opdyke supplied another generous ball a few minutes later, but the Crusaders couldn’t capitalize. After the game lulled for a bit, LC won a corner that Lena Staropoli was able to drop right into the box.

Henesey was there and put the chance away 23 minutes in.

“Getting the first goal quick gives us a boost of confidence and gets them down,” Henesey said. “If it’s 0-0 nearing halftime, they’ll think they can get us and we just need to stay ahead.”

The Crusaders were awarded another corner nine minutes later and like the last set piece, it led to a goal from Henesey. After the inital service got cleared out, back Sarah Cooney sent a volley back in right to Henesey, who then one-touched it into the net.

“It’s about your body positioning and we know where the ball is going to go because we practice that,” Henesey said. “Plus, just being aggressive.”

Just before half, Egan got the moment it needed. A long free kick by Ally Wojton went into the box and through the hands of LC keeper Maura Maxwell. The bobbled ball fell to Bailey Brown, who booted it in to cut the lead to 2-1 at the break.

Adameic said the goal gave his girls belief they could come out and win the game and he decided to move one out of the midfield and back up top for the second half. On the other bench, the goal was key moment for the Crusaders.

First and foremost was restoring the confidence of their keeper.

Bob Raines--Montgomery Media Lansdale Catholic's Sarah Opdyke's kick ricochets off the knee of Conwell-Egan's Erin Rottloff Oct. 22, 2015.
Lansdale Catholic’s Sarah Opdyke’s kick ricochets off the knee of Conwell-Egan’s Erin Rottloff during their PCL quarterfinal contest on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. (Bob Raines/Montgomery Media)

“I have to give a lot of credit to our assistant coach,” LC coach Tom O’Donnell said. “Armando (Moral) pulled her aside and just calmed her down. She was reluctant to go back in, she was really upset and he gave it to her very straight that the team is looking to you to go back out there.”

The timing of the goal wasn’t great for LC, but it wasn’t all bad either.

“Since it happened right before the half, we could settle down and cool down,” Sheridan said. “We talked about stepping in front of the ball, passing to feet, not just kick to anywhere and just possess the ball.”

Maxwell did return for the second half and made two saves after the break to help keep her team in front.

LC had almost every chance in the second half, they just couldn’t finish any of them. Henesey was cursed by the woodwork, twice having a volley clang off a post and out of the net. Opdyke again generated a couple of quality balls into the box, but LC couldn’t get any shots off of them.

O’Donnell didn’t expect a walkover, even though his team already had a win against Egan. He noted that while Egan’s roster isn’t necessarily loaded with expert soccer players, they are all athletes who play the game hard.

The only thing Adameic really lamented about his team’s performance was their struggle to get shots on net. He felt his team defended well, not conceding a goal from the run of play, and played balls in to make chances.

LC defeated Wood 2-0 in their meeting during the regular season, but the Vikings have had the Crusaders’ number in the postseason recently. Sheridan said she was hoping to play Wood again due to the rivalry the teams have developed and the senior will get that wish next Tuesday at Archbishop Ryan.

There’s a few days of practice between now and then and O’Donnell is glad he doesn’t have to prep for Egan again.

“That was a nail-biter, I don’t want to play another round with them,” O’Donnell said. “It’s like Rocky and Apollo Creed, you’re not getting a rematch, you’re done pal. We’re moving on.”

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