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Seniors lead way as Abington tops Upper Moreland

Abington seniors Shea Gormley (40), Lesha Karaba (24) and Maddie Hinkle (45) totaled 12 goals and five assists the Ghosts' win over Upper Moreland on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. (Andrew Robinson/MediaNews Group)

ABINGTON >> They lost all of last year and twice had this season stopped, so the Abington girls lacrosse seniors aren’t taking any chance to play lightly.

Under the lights on Wednesday, the Ghosts celebrated their nine seniors before they went out and put in a dominant effort against visiting Upper Moreland. It’s been a challenging spring, but Abington’s seniors have been together a long time and just wanted the chance to take the field as a group.

All nine seniors saw plenty of time and chipped in plenty as the Ghosts topped the Golden Bears 15-5.

“Whenever we play in the stadium, we think we’re in for a good night,” Abington senior midfielder Maddie Hinkle, who scored four goals and assisted four others, said. “Our energy was good, the draw was in our favor, Mei Mei (Cheng) was really connecting with me on the circle to get the ball and we went from there.”

The seniors combined for 14 of the Ghosts’ (3-4, 2-3 SOL American) 15 goals and eight of the team’s 10 assists. Hinkle was the overall leader in points, but senior Lesha Karaba had the game-high in goals with five to go with an assist.

Shea Gormley had a hat trick, Abby Johnson scored one and assisted three and senior Emily Schlisman, a first-year varsity player, got a goal late in the second half. The final senior in attack, Erica Simon, didn’t get on the scoreboard, but got plenty of time and her teammates were trying hard to get her a shot on goal in the final minutes.

“Losing the season last year was really hard for all of us,” Gormley said. “We had a preseason, everyone had been training really, really hard then we had it taken away and nobody was sure if we were going to get it back. Once it got called off, that gave us the intensity to come back this year and win as much as we can and have as much fun as we can.

“We got shut down twice for COVID. The first time, we all thought we’d get right back into it but the second time really showed us not to take anything, any games or even a practice, for granted and that’s been our motto going through it.”

Abington had to wait to even get on the field, with a shutdown preventing the Ghosts from competing in their first game until April 6, a week after most other teams started playing. They got another game in on April 8, defeating Central Bucks South for their first win, but a second shutdown had them on pause until April 20.

Despite the two shutdowns, the team stayed together and hoped Wednesday’s win could be the start of some positive momentum to finish the season.

The Abington girls lacrosse team talks during a timeout in their game against Upper Moreland on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. (Andrew Robinson/MediaNews Group)

“We want to try and win every game,” Karaba said. “Mainly, we want to have fun, celebrate. We always want to support each other, so every little thing, we’re cheering and trying to get the intensity up. It’s something I’m looking forward to, getting closer as a team and trying to win every game.”

The Golden Bears (6-8, 3-6 SOL American), who did not start a senior on Wednesday, scored first but couldn’t keep up with the pace of Abington’s senior-heavy attacking unit. Behind two goals each from Karaba and Gormley and a pair of helpers from Hinkle, Abington took a 4-1 lead just five minutes into the first half.

Despite the flurry of goals early, the Ghosts weren’t able to pull away until later in the half thanks to some stellar play from Bears goalie Emma Hurley. The junior made nine saves, several of them point-blank and got some plaudits from the Abington attackers.

“We definitely had to give a couple high-fives to the goalie,” Gormley said. “It’s all about finding the weakest spots and when we figured that out, it was game.”

Willow Taylor got UM within 4-2 with 19:50 on the clock to cap a pretty busy opening act of the game. From there, both defenses made some stops with Abington led by its senior goalie Chloe Herghelegiu and senior back Zoe Freedman and defensive midfielder Lilly Alessandro who combined for two caused turnovers and eight ground balls.

Cheng, a junior, provided the only Abington goal that didn’t come from a senior when she scored off a feed from Hinkle in transition to re-ignite the Ghosts’ scoring. The midfielder was a whirlwind of effort on Wednesday, teaming up with Hinkle to win 13-of-22 draw controls, scoring a goal and assisting two more and gathering up seven ground balls.

Karaba and Gormley followed with goals, giving each a hat trick before the break and the Ghosts led 8-3 at halftime on a fourth tally by Karaba. The high-scoring attacker said the bond between the senior class is a special one.

“You make friends throughout your four years, when you come out as a freshman, it is scary but you still have the girls with you that you’ve had since middle school,” Karaba said. “Being able to stay with them for another four years is a great feeling.

“When we were shut down, we were constantly checking up on each other and texting constantly. We all kept working hard on our own so when we came back, we were ready.”

Karaba, who also had a great fall season with the girls soccer team, scored her fifth goal to start the second half. Hinkle, who spent the first half setting up goals, took over as a scorer after the break, tagging all four of her markers in the second half.

“We all put a lot of hard work and dedication into this team,” Hinkle said. “I think it shows on the field how much we work and how much we care. We’re all so grateful to have such a great program and great coaches and we’re just a family.

“We made the most of what we could get this year and it’s just nice to say we’ve been able to do that.”

ABINGTON 8 7 -15
Goals-Assists: A – Lesha Karaba 5-1, Maddie Hinkle 4-4, Shea Gormley 3-0, Abby Johnson 1-3, Mei Mei Cheng 1-2, Emily Schlisman 1-0; UM – Olivia Meakim 2-1, Reagan Cummins 1-0, Willow Taylor.

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