Defense helps Abington top Upper Dublin in key SOL American contest

ABINGTON >> It’s not hard to overlook the defense when it comes to lacrosse.

With so many teams capable of scoring double-digit goals and rules that aid the attacking player more than a defender, they tend to get left out at times. But if a team wants to be good, it needs to have a solid defense to go with its attack.

The Abington girls lacrosse team certainly feels its defense can stand with anybody, even if they too, get a little overlooked at times.

In a tight battle with Upper Dublin on a warm Friday afternoon, the Ghosts defense made enough plays to help tilt the scales in an 11-10 win. The battle between the last two unbeaten teams in Suburban One League American Conference play lived up to the billing.

“The best part about our ‘D’ was that they were very disciplined today,” Abington coach Amanda Kammes said. “We didn’t go for checks, we didn’t go for cheap ones, we were straight up and down and it was a really clean game of lacrosse on the defensive end. It’s a big credit to them.”

Sam McGee scored six goals to lead the Ghosts, who fell behind 3-0 in the first five minutes of the game and Abington got a lot of contributions from other players. Lindsay Baer scored two goals and midfielder Kaley Enhow had six draw controls along with two caused turnovers and a ground ball.

The Ghosts’ (8-3, 5-0 SOL American) defense made things tough for Upper Dublin all afternoon, packing in and getting a lot of sticks and bodies in the way that forced the Cardinals (8-3, 4-1) into some tough passes. Given the teams’ respective records and play so far this season, there was a playoff feel to the game.

While Abington is used to that, it was a bit of a new experience for Upper Dublin.

“We started off strong and I thought we were going to settle down,” UD coach Dee Cross said. “I told the girls it was a matter of confidence. Abington is used to winning and none of our girls have made the playoffs. It’s one step at a time. It’s a bad pass here, a bad check here and that’s what made the difference.”

Upper Dublin has a lot of underclassmen playing starting roles, with three freshman starting in attack on Friday. Midfielder Becky Browndorf, only a sophomore, led UD with three goals while freshman Jackie Rama and midfielder Caroline Wall each netted two.

After UD’s quick start, Kammes took a timeout and her team settled down. McGee tied the game 3-3 on a howitzer of a free position shot, then gave Jules Greco a fantastic pass for the go-ahead goal. Abington never trailed after Greco’s score, though UD did rally to force a 5-5 tie late in the first half.

“It was a fun game to be in,” Enhow said. “I feel like we were all able to pull together and play like a team inside of trying to single out. We came in really excited for this game, we were a little scared because we didn’t know who was going to come out on top.”

Browndorf scored 20 seconds apart to tie the game 5-5 but Abington responded with two goals in the last 25 seconds of the first half, a strike by McGee and a buzzer-beating free position shot by Casey McCallister, to regain the lead at the half.

It wasn’t just one player stepping up on the defensive end for Abington. Sam Simon had two ground balls, Cathey Staerk had a caused turnover, Rebecca Morris had an interception and every player in the back seemed to have a stick in the way of an Upper Dublin pass.

“We talked about it and knew what we had to do (on defense),” Enhow said. “Our defense is really good. We’ve been able to cut off what the attack is doing. We have to follow their lead and help them out.”

A free position goal by Abby Thomas put the Ghosts up 10-6 with 10:54 left in the game. Upper Dublin would score four of the next five, thanks to the Cardinals winning draw controls and dominating possession.

Wall and Rama scored to get within 10-8 before Baer scored with 5:16 left for a three-goal edge. Wall notched her second with 3:18 left and Rama scored with six seconds left to get within a single goal. While Upper Dublin ran out of time, it had plenty of chances prior that it wasn’t able to convert on.

“A bad pass here, a missed check here, that’s what made the difference,” Cross said. “We stayed with them, but we let them have that run. Trying to stop Sam, it’s nothing we didn’t prepare for and nothing we didn’t know would happen. She’s just very strong and it’s very hard to contain her. Her supporting cast, their whole team, they just play with confidence.

“We’re getting there, I think we’re confident, we got better this game, we just have to get over that hump.”

It wasn’t the cleanest close-out to the game for Abington, but it was another good win on a tough schedule.

“We went on a spurt at the end where we were losing all the draws and they were scoring, but that was a playoff game in my opinion,” Kammes said. “It’s really nice to see some people in our league having good teams this year and giving some parity in our league. That’s only going to help the conference going into the District I playoffs.”

Abington 11, Upper Dublin 10
ABINGTON 7 4 – 11
Goals-Assists: UD – Becky Browndorf 3-0, Jackie Rama 2-0, Caroline Wall 2-0, Hannah Reape 1-2, Mack Moore 1-0, Lindsey Schreiber 1-0; A – Sam McGee 6-1, Lindsay Baer 2-0, Casey McCallister 1-1, Abby Thomas 1-1, Jules Greco 1-0.
Saves: UD – Sarah Herchenrode 5; A – Kiki Brasher 3, Claudia Gross 4.

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