TOWAMENCIN >> The early portion of this season’s schedule has taken its toll on the Neshaminy girls soccer team.
“We’re been decimated with injuries this year,” Redskins coach Renny Papendick said. “We’ve got a broken foot, we’ve got a broken hip, we’ve got a broken nose, we’ve got a concussion.”
Down five starters, Neshaminy has turned to its younger players and Monday afternoon a freshman helped deliver the ‘Skins a SOL nonconference win. Carly Fox scored in the first half then picked an assist after halftime as visiting Neshaminy held on to edge North Penn 2-1.
“She’s going to be a big-time player for us in a couple years,” said Papendick of Fox. “But she’s definitely not playing like a freshman.”
Emily Varilla pulled the Knights even before halftime and came tantalizingly close to another in the second as North Penn had a handful a quality chances to equalize but just couldn’t get one in the back of the net.
“We created changes and we just didn’t execute on them,” Knights co-head coach Mike Rio said. “They had a few and they did. Again, they played good defensively, they were organized, they took care of their business in the back and they had a couple really nice through balls that their girls were able to run through and finish.”
Fox gave Neshaminy (3-2-0, 1-1-0 SOL National) the early advantage on a breakaway while Varilla made it 1-1 making a long run after getting behind the ‘Skins defense. But Neshaminy regained the lead for good early in the second half, with Fox finding Gina Sexton with a long pass for the go-ahead goal.
“I saw a gap and I put it through the gap and she went through a different gap,” Fox said.
A tying goal evaded North Penn (2-3-0, 0-1-0 SOL Continental) the remainder of the contest, but not due to the Knights’ lack of trying. North Penn threatening on a few corners — Landry Holt headed a ball over the crossbar on one while another was cleared out to Olivia Urban, who ripped a shot that bounced twice before being saved.
NP’s best chance in the second half came from Varilla, the sophomore bursting down the left sideline then toeing a shot that went bit wide of the right post.
“Feed the ball to her, just kind of missed the outside post be a little margin there,” Rio said. “It kind of felt like we were just a little bit off when we got around that attacking third, everything was a just a little off where it was header over the crossbar, some of the crosses just a little out of reach of our attackers. We felt we generated a lot of chances and we played hard. It’s just that’s one of those things.
“Again give Neshaminy, hats off to them, they have a really good defensive shape, they played hard defensively, they didn’t make anything easy for us and again when they had their opportunities they took advantage.”
The Knights have dropped three of four since a season-opening 6-2 win over Great Valley — their other win 3-2 over Lansdale Catholic last Friday — but Rio has seen plenty of positives for a NP side coming off an appearance in the District 1-4A second round.
“As far as our schedule, we’ve had a pretty tough schedule here to start,” Rio said. “This week, we’ll have seven games in 14 days and we had a back-to-back Thursday and Friday then we have today and tomorrow. So, it’s been tough to do game after game after game.
“We like the way that the girls are playing, they’re playing hard, obviously not getting the results and hopefully as we go over to (Central Bucks) East tomorrow, bring this same kind of intensity and get a result tomorrow and kind of get that moving forward through the rest of the season.”
The Knights head up to take on CB East at 4:45 p.m. while Neshaminy is also in action Tuesday visiting Truman at 5 p.m.
“We’re weathering the storm, “ Papendick said. “We’re in the Suburban One, we got the big guys coming up. We got a tough loss against Council Rock South, we’re going to bounce back here and it’s going to be a tough season. Some of these freshmen are going to have to step up and play and we got some other talented juniors and sophomores are going to be put to the test.”
It was one of those freshman, Fox, that set up the winning goal for Neshaminy in the second half, sending a long pass from the left sideline forward to Sexton, who delivered a shot that found the right side of the net.
“She’s a little undersized but she’s physical and she’s got really great vision,” said Papendick of Fox.
Fox struck for Monday’s opening tally after get behind the Knights backline, sidestepping the keeper and slotting in a shot. For a brief moment, it looked like North Penn had cleared the ball of the line, but the ball was deemed over the goal line and the ‘Skins were up 1-0.
“I saw it go over the line and I wasn’t sure if he was going to count it,” Fox said.
The goal that put the Knights level started with Cynthia Sheehy, who won a ball before getting the ball up to Varilla near midfield. Varilla, who stayed just onside, dashed to the net and popping a shot into the goal.
“Her speed gives her such an advantage over a lot of the defenders we play and when see can finish like that it’s great” said Rio of Varilla. “Tia in the midfield, she’s been working really hard for us. I’ve been really happy with her service and the balls that she’s played and just her general work ethic throughout the game.
“She’s been one of our hardest workers all season so far and I think she might have played a full 80 minutes today.”
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