NEWTOWN – Council Rock South pushed itself to the positive side of the Suburban One National League (SONL) ledger with a 3-2 triumph over visiting Abington Wednesday afternoon at Walt Snyder Stadium.
The Golden Hawks did so on the strength of Tori Wright’s second goal of the duel that came midway through the second half. South went ahead 2-0 in the first seven minutes of the contest on goals by Wright and midfielder Mikayla VanAken only to see the Ghosts draw even by halftime on goals by Natalie McNamara and Grace Terrizzi.
“This is a lesson to be learned,” said Hawks head coach Lisa Belz. “Abington is a great team – they have some really good players and they’re well-coached. At any time, they can come back.
“(We had) a 10-minute letdown. And you can’t play the game for 50 minutes; you have to play the entire 60 minutes.
“Thankfully, we were able to answer back and pull out the win.”
Less than two minutes into the contest, South got on the board first with Wright banging home a shot on a penalty corner, off and inset from Caitlyn Thornton. At the 6:52 mark, Mikayla VanAken scored off a feed from Kate Cocco, putting the Hawks up 2-0.
Abington (5-5, 3-4: SONL) drew even however scoring a pair of goals that were less than four minutes apart in the first half. At the 12:48 mark, McNamara scored on a penalty corner and 3:30 later, Terrizzi scored off a feed from Natalie to draw the sides even.
Just past the midway point of the second half, Wright took a pass from VanAken and knocked it into the back of the cage for the game-winner.
Defensively, Belz assigned first-year varsity back Rachel Thorpe with defending McNamara, who is perhaps Abington’s best player on attack.
“She’s quick, she’s fast, she has great stick-work, she has great hits,” said Belz, of McNamara. “The last time we played them, she scored on a reverse stick chip.
“We told them, ‘make sure you don’t let her release. Deny her the ball.’
“We ended up putting someone on her about 20 minutes into the game in order to guard her a little bit more tightly. That was Rachel Thorpe and I think she did an outstanding job.”
“She had her stick down and she was composed and that’s what you need.”
With 12 and a half minutes left in the second half, VanAken was awarded a penalty stroke – a rarity in field hockey. Ghosts goalkeeper Mackenzie Greiner proved equal to the task, however, denying the ball with a kick save to keep Abington within striking distance.
“The penalty shot, in my opinion, took too long to be taken,” said Belz. “I think the goalie made an outstanding save but penalty shots are supposed to be – goalie ready, stroker ready, take the shot.
“In this case, it was an inexperienced ref not knowing what to do and I think it hurt us a little bit.”
Try as they might, the Ghosts could not come up with the equalizer in the closing moments of the contest, although a shot by Paige Doyle off a cross from McNamara just missed as did a shot by Stephanie Aceveda off a cross by Aileen Hughes.
“I think they had a lot of momentum the whole game,” said Belz. “They’re a fast-moving team and they have a go-to player (McNamara) and I think it works for them.”
With the win, CR South pushes to 5-5 overall on the season, 4-3 in the SOL National Conference.
“It feels good but we have a long way to go,” said Belz of her team’s winning mark in the SOL. “We still have eight games left and some hard ones. Tomorrow, we play Perk Valley.”
The Hawks are playing their first season without standout forward Caroline McGovern, who is now playing at Boston College, midfielder Sarah Womer (Shippensburg), and goalkeeper Sabrina Masone (Moravian). Emily Keller and Paige Schmid have also graduated.
The 2017 squad has stepped up in place of the departures, says Belz.
“Tori Wright and Mikayla Vanaken have been our clutch players this year,” the coach said. “And I have a lot of younger players that are really stepping into their roles too and I’m really proud of them.
The youngsters stepping up into full-time varsity positions at South include backfielders Fiona McGinley at sweeper, Sarah Beyer and Rachel Thorpe. Midfielder Bridget Doherty is also playing her first year on varsity along with goalkeeper Aspen Handel, who kept Abington off the board in the second half, ensuring the win for the Golden Hawks.
For CR South, the victory avenged an early season 1-0 loss to the Ghosts in which Greiner, the Abington goalkeeper, turned back all 22 shots she faced.
TOP PHOTO: Abington’s Alainna Swift (1), right, defends Council Rock South’s Mikayla VanAken (28) in 3-2 win for the Golden Hawks Sept. 28 at Walt Snyder Stadium, Newtown, Pa. (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)
Council Rock South 3, Abington 2
(Sept. 27 at CR South)
CR SOUTH (5-5, 4-3: SONL) 2 1 – 3
ABINGTON (5-5, 3-4: SONL) 2 0 – 2
First-Half Goals: CRS — Tori Wright, unassisted 1:56, Mikayla VanAken, from Kate Cocco 6:52; A — Natalie McNamara, unassisted, 12:48, Grace Terrizzi, from McNamara 16:28.
Second- Half Goals: CRS — Tori Wright, from VanAken, 45:50; A — none.