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St Basil attack breaks out in win over Gwynedd Mercy

St. Basil’s Ann Marie Coates receives a pass as Gwynedd Mercy Academy’s Erin Mele defends during their game on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

LOWER GWYNEDD >> St. Basil Academy’s girls soccer team had been waiting for a performance like the one it had Monday.

The Panthers, the defending District 1-AA champions, had turned in some nearly-complete games so far this season, but always seemed to lack one or two things that fully unlocked it all. That wasn’t an issue Monday as Basil put the pressure on early and scored a handful of fantastic goals.

The end result was a 5-2 win over Gwynedd Mercy Academy, but not before the Monarchs threw everything they had into it.

“It really helped our momentum being able to come out into the second half with the same energy that we left it with,” Basil forward Sophia Maloney said.

In the first half, the Panthers were creating all kinds of chances against GMA, but either couldn’t put a shot on target or had it stopped by Monarchs keeper Brynn Hanson. Just as it looked like the teams would have to settle for a scoreless draw, St. Basil earned a throw-in deep in GMA’s end.

St. Basil’s Maddie McCrae settles a pass during the Panthers’ game against Gwynedd Mercy Academy on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

Fullback Jules Gura’s long toss found Delaney Gayton, who headed the ball down to Lauren Baldo at the far post for the knock-in with 1:29 left in the first half. It was a good team goal, just the kind the Panthers have been trying to score all season.

“The whole season we’ve been working to make our offense a little bit better and being able to finish the ball,” defender Paulina Storck said. “Being able to score five goals today was a big accomplishment.”

The Panthers were spurred by their late goal in the first half into scoring some early goals in the second half, finding the back of the net twice in the opening five minutes. Both tallies were again sterling team efforts, with Cheryl Remolde playing a brilliant ball over the top to Erin Gilsenan, who held it on her foot just long enough to the pull the keeper before a volley finish.

Two minutes later, Gilsenan played Mahoney in with a through ball, which the forward touched by a defender then buried a shot into the netting.

St. Basil has a large senior nucleus, and the Panthers play with a good knowledge of where each other is going to be and nearly every ball they played found a teammate, or at least put the ball in a spot to be dangerous.

“We’ve been playing together with this team for three years and we have a really good chemistry,” Gilsenan said. “Today’s game proved how good our chemistry can be. With the movement today, I’d say it was the best offensive performance we’ve had.”

“It’s built on and off the field, too,” Mahoney added. “We’re all friends off the field.”

St. Basil took a 4-0 lead with 25:52 left when Jules Harkins found Maddie McCrae on the right wing and the midfielder buried a try to the far post while parallel to the end line.

After the fourth goal, the Panthers’ defending slacked and the communication that had carried it to that point went silent. With Gwynedd battling to stay in the District 1-3A playoff picture, the Monarchs weren’t going to stop playing.

“I love the fight our girls showed despite being down,” GMA coach Derik Stover said. “I thought if we were only down two, the girls started believing in themselves that they could come back.”

Gwynedd Mercy Academy’s Bridget Casey battles St. Basil’s Cara Hughes for possession of the ball during their game on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

Mollie Hanson tried to will her team back into the match with two terrific goals, heading in a Peyton Palazzo corner kick with 21:37 left then squeezing in a tight-angled shot with 18 minutes to play. St. Basil knew it had slacked off and picked up its intensity again after Hanson’s second strike.

Cara Hughes got free on a breakaway, rushing behind the entire backline and getting a fortunate bounce when her sliding shot to the far post hit off the woodwork and crossed the line to make it 5-2.

“That fifth goal really sealed the deal,” Stover said. “That one really took the wind out of our sails. I felt it in my heart, there was no way we could come back.”

Not content with just five, St. Basil kept pressing but were unable to find another score despite a few close calls.

GMA has two matches remaining this week, including a home final with Villa Joseph Marie on Thursday and will likely need to win both in order to slip into the playoffs. Monday was the Monarchs’ Senior Day and Stover wanted to give his seniors a chance to make something happen.

Senior Bridget Casey finished the game at forward and kept generating chances for GMA as they continued to fight and attempt to get back in the match.

“These girls have fought all season,” Stover said. “It’s good to know and the future is bright. All our players went extremely hard and that’s all we wanted but I gave the seniors some extra time to showcase their talents and I was very happy with their play.”

St. Basil also has two matches left this week and is currently sitting as the top seed for the AA playoffs, which don’t begin until Nov. 1. With time off between games, Gilsenan said it gives the Panthers time to practice and work on things as a team.

“We’ve been working toward playing defense into offense and today we had a good all-around game,” Storck said. “We’ve been working on playing off the ball, moving, talking to each other and just making use of our chemistry.”



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