HORSHAM >> Casey Touey did little to mask her frustration Tuesday night and wasn’t looking forward to feeling that way again.
Two days later, the Abington senior forward played a part in both goals then found herself right in the middle of a frantic last stand as the Ghosts tried to regain top spot in the SOL Liberty standings. Trying to cause the Ghosts more frustration this week was a Hatboro-Horsham side eager to keep its perch and set up its path to a second straight conference title.
After Maura Day turned Touey’s assist into a goal, Abington held on to top the Hatters 2-1 in a pivotal game on Thursday afternoon.
“When we played Wissahickon (on Tuesday), I feel like we went into it comfortable and didn’t want it that much, so coming off that tie, it felt like a loss to us,” Touey said. “Coming into this game, we knew we had to come out as hard as we could because this opponent wasn’t go to give us an easy win. We came out with a lot more heart today.”
GIRLS SOCCER 17:39 2nd half: Abington 2, Hatboro Horsham 1
Maura Day the slip finish off a perfect through ball by Casey Touey pic.twitter.com/2g0K8MBa70
— Andrew Robinson (@ADRobinson3) October 15, 2020
Abington (6-0-1 SOL Liberty) had been responsible for the Hatters’ (6-2-0 Liberty) sole loss this season, so the hosts were eager to get some payback on their turf field after struggling on Abington’s grass surface in a downpour back in September. The Ghosts’ early intensity had Hatboro-Horsham on its back foot for about 15 minutes to start the game until everything turned.
Senior Maggie O’Neill, a relentless competitor, forced herself into possession of the ball, won a battle with an Abington defender and ripped a terrific shot from the left side that tucked off the far post and into the back of the net. The goal, which came against the run of play, gave the Hatters a rush of energy they had needed.
“Maggie, she can play any position and even then, she’ll run across the field to play another position and recover back to hers,” Hatters coach Kelsey Daley said. “She creates so many opportunities for us and plays her heart out every single game.”
O’Neill nearly doubled the lead 10 minutes later when she won an aerial challenge with Abington’s keeper but her shot pinged off the post with 12 minutes left on the first half clock.
Abington had been buckled but never hit the mat. Knowing her team needed something to prop it up going to the break, Touey re-doubled her efforts despite a constant shadow defender and delivered for her side just before the break.
Day created the chance when her shot from outside the box was blocked by a Hatters defender, sending Touey into action with three minutes to play before halftime.
“I knew no matter how good of a touch their girl had on it, it would be a tight space for her to work in, so if I could pressure her first touch, there would be a mistake,” Touey said. “Soon enough, the ball bounced off of her perfectly to me and I was able to keep my composure and place the ball into the corner.”
Tied at the break, the Ghosts knew they could still be doing more on the field. After the Hatters’ goal, Abington was disjointed at times and the midfield wasn’t connecting in the manner it was capable of.
“It’s the mindset, we have to want it more,” Day said. “We did a better job of that in the second half, it was still a little shaky at times, but we got it done.”
O’Neill continued to be a constant presence offensively, while Hatters forwards Emily Thomas and Mia Malofiy also tested the Ghosts defensive unit. Center backs Caroline Hughes and Ally Holden held their ground while the team’s rotation of banged-up fullbacks pieced together a winning performance.
After trading a few opportunities through the first act of the second half, Touey again got something going for her team. Dropping into the middle, the senior picked up the ball, turned and saw Day making a run to fill her vacated spot.
One well-place through ball later, Day was in front of goal and sliding a shot past the keeper for a 2-1 lead with 17 minutes to go.
“Casey and I, we’ve played together for a while so we have the chemistry and we talk to each other all the time to see where each other is going,” Day said. “She gets open for me and vice-versa and she just gets out of my way so I can take the ball.
“You just have to keep your composure, you have time to touch it around (the keeper) and I was able to put it in the corner.”
Lesha Karaba forced a good save from Hatters keeper Sam Hollish soon after but from then on, it was all Hatboro-Horsham pushing for an equalizer. Abington keeper Alexis Ditri was a called into action a few times, making a great save at the post on O’Neill and palming a shot from Caroline Shegogue away from goal in the final charge.
Much like the Ghosts left Tuesday’s game a frustrated side, the Hatters did the same on Thursday. Daley knew her team played well enough to win and her message was for her players to pick themselves up and finish strong, with the SOL Liberty title still not decided and the District 1 playoffs now in the picture.
“I thought it was the best game we could have played against this team, we made two mistakes and it turned into two goals against us,” Daley said. “I told them now’s the time to focus on playoffs and we have yet to win a district game as a group so that needs to be our next goal.”
The Hatters had entered the day as the No. 5 team in the District 1 4A rankings, which will determine the 16 entrants into the playoffs. Abington had been the No. 6 team and now have a clear path to a conference title if the Ghosts win their next three matches.
Before the season, Touey said she saw a lot of potential in her team and Thursday saw it manifest in a crucial game.
“I’m really proud of my team,” Touey said. “I’m not surprised. I knew for years there were so many talented players coming up and our chemistry is really good this year. We talk to each other, we understand each other and overall, I think it’s living up to all the expectations I had for it.”
ABINGTON 2, HATBORO-HORSHAM 1
ABINGTON 1 1 – 2
HATBORO-HORSHAM 1 0 – 1
Goals: A – Casey Touey, Maura Day (Touey); HH – Maggie O’Neill.