ABINGTON >> Ellie Hughes just wanted to stay solid.
The Abington girls lacrosse team’s goalie knew Central Bucks West was going to work the ball for one last good shot at her net and she didn’t want to leave anything to chance. Tuesday’s game under the lights against CB West wasn’t a conference game, but it was still one the Galloping Ghosts desperately wanted to win.
Hughes wanted to stay solid and did, making a save with about 30 seconds left to preserve Abington’s 8-7 SOL crossover win against the Bucks.
“I told myself ‘don’t guess where it’s going,’ I wanted to hold as long as I could and when the ball released, just go right to it,” Hughes said. “I’m lucky to have a great defense in front of me that they got the ground ball and they worked hard to clear the ball down the field. I’m proud of them.”
Hughes’ late save may have sealed the deal but there was a good argument she helped win the game in the first five minutes. The West Chester-bound senior stopped three early shots by West to begin her 15-save evening that built a lot of momentum for the Ghosts (7-2, 3-0 SOL American).
The Bucks (5-4, 3-0 SOL National) did eventually get on the board and they would go on to do a lot of really good things the rest of the night, but Hughes’ early saves certainly played into the outcome. West dominated the draw controls, with Casey Reichwein helping CB West win 14 of 17 and the Bucks slowed Abington’s usual transition game defensively.
“Their goalie is talented and we were having a tough time moving her and shooting around her,” Bucks coach Rebecca Cartee said. “I think if we would have sunk some of those shots early on, we would have been able to pull away. I’m proud of my girls, they handled the pressure and played well from the get-go.”
West went up 2-1, but the teams went to halftime tied 3-3 in a very defensive-minded game. Bucks goalie Lauren Ring didn’t have as many saves as Hughes by the break, but her stops were just as impressive with a couple close-range denials helping keep her team from going to halftime behind.
Abington, which has a handful of key players out injured either for the season or for the short-term, had to work for Tuesday’s win. With West winning most of the draws and a lot of whistles going against the host team, the Ghosts also had to adjust things offensively.
Senior Abby Thomas scored two key goals in the second half, her first giving Abington a 5-4 lead and her last holding up as the game-winner.
“It’s been a battle between the two teams since my freshman year, so it was awesome to get a win over them,” Thomas said. “It’s always been really close between us.”
When Thomas scored off a feed from Kaley Ehnow with 14:54 left, it put Abington for the first time since the 20:49 mark of the first half. CB West however, was able to get a quick goal back to tie it and the next two times Abington scored to go up, the Bucks answered right back.
Reichwein, Maddy McGarry and Emma Haring did all the scoring for West, with Haring’s hat trick pacing the offense. The trio was also part of the defensive effort in a game where both teams came up with some critical turnovers.
Cartee noted her team is defense first and the Bucks, who haven’t allowed more than 11 goals in a game this season, did a good job of it. They prevented Abington from getting the one-on-one matchups the Ghosts like to create and for the most part, Abington wasn’t able to use its transition speed to its full effect.
“We have a lot to learn from this, part of which is that we can hang with good teams,” Cartee said. “We scouted them and knew they can move the ball quickly through the midfield. We’ve got some speed too, and it was nice to see them use it. I thought my girls played a very controlled game.”
Haring knotted the game 7-7 on an eight-meter with 2:44 left and Reichwein won the ensuing draw control, but Abington would come up with a stop. Ehnow was able to dislodge the ball from a West player’s stick, with Grace Hinkle scooping up the ground ball for a tide-changing turnover.
Patience was a virtue for Abington’s offense in the second half, with the Ghosts running sets two or three times until someone found a gap and attacked. With Jam Mashore holding the ball behind the net, Thomas found one late, cutting hard before catching Mashore’s feed and putting it away for the go-ahead goal with 1:34 left.
“Being patient with the ball really helped, we were able to recognize where defensive players were and be patient with the ball,” Thomas said. “It wasn’t just one person, we needed a total team effort. We’re usually a go-go-go team so being patient and being able to recognize how their defenders adjusted to our plays was important.
“She (Mashore) isn’t hesitant passing the ball and I’ve been playing with her for so long that I know when she’s ready to feed it.”
Reichwein’s draw control win got the ball back for West and the Bucks took a timeout with 41 seconds left to set up their final look.
West got a good one, with Haring using a spin move to create an open lane for herself but Hughes read it well, raising her stick to knock down the shot before Shea Gormely collected the ball and zipped down the field.
“Tonight showed us, while plays may not go our way and we face adversity all the time, it doesn’t matter if it’s not our ball or anything, we just have to work harder,” Hughes said. “We have to stick to our version of lacrosse.”
“It’s us being able to adjust,” Thomas said. “Finding a way to remain composed, not get in our own heads and keep working really played to our advantage.”
ABINGTON 8, CB WEST 7
CB WEST 3 4 – 7
ABINGTON 3 5 – 8
Goals-Assists: A – Abby Thomas 2-0, Grace Hinkle 2-0, Kaley Ehnow 2-1, Maddie Hinkle 1-0, Jam Mashore 1-2; CBW – Emma Haring 3-0, Casey Reichwein 2-0, Maddie McGarry 2-0. Shots: A – 15, CBW – 22. Saves: A – Ellie Hughes 15, CBW – Lauren Ring 7