WORCESTER >> When Methacton took a seven-goal lead late in the first half of its season opener against Upper Dublin, it looked like the Warriors were on their way to an easy win.
Twenty-six minutes of game-time later, the defending Pioneer Athletic Conference champs were playing defense and nursing a one-goal lead.
With just over a minute left in the game, Methacton’s Elise DeWan knocked the ball loose behind the net and Lily DeWan was there to scoop up the groundball. Lily DeWan raced across midfield and the Warriors called timeout with 55 seconds left. They played keepaway for 45 seconds and held on for an 8-7 win at Methacton High School.
“It was amazing,” Methacton midfielder Megan Sanelli said of the defensive stand. “It was the sisters that went for the double. They have that connection to be able to check. Then (coach Laurie) Markle called a great timeout to tell us to settle down, don’t score and just hold the ball for the rest of the time.”
“I’m really proud,” Upper Dublin coach Dee Cross said. “One-goal game, we did have the ball at the end. Key turnover, but they still never gave up. They got the ball back, we just ran out of time. On to the next one.”
The Cardinals (1-2) began their comeback late in the first half. After falling behind 7-0, they scored the final two goals before the break, including Ella Lyon’s tally with 1.2 seconds left on the clock to make it 7-2.
“It was absolutely key,” Cross said, “because at halftime we were able to say, ‘You just scored two goals in a row, we have the momentum, let’s keep it going.’ And they really did. They responded. I felt like we were tighter on defense, our offense was passing the ball better and we raised our level, which was exactly what we were looking for.”
Michelle Zhai put the Warriors (1-0) ahead, 8-2, early in the second half with what proved to be the game-winning goal.
Lyon and Paige Dinkel each finished with hat tricks for UD. They each scored two goals in the second half and an Anna DiMartile goal with 2:32 on the clock got the Cardinals within one, 8-7.
Sanelli and Zhai each tallied three goals for the Warriors. Zhai had two assists and Sanelli one. Giada Catoia and Alexa Diezel also scored in the first half to help Methacton build its early lead.
“We were really connecting on the plays,” Sanelli, who got the scoring started just 60 seconds into the game, said. “We ran two and they all worked every single time. I think in the second half we fell apart a little bit. We let them get to our heads by them getting three goals in a row. I think next game we’ll just come out and stay strong throughout the whole game.”
Methacton goalie Natalie Drake made the 100th save of her career in the first half.
Upper Dublin starts its Suburban One League American Conference schedule next week with a game against Plymouth Whitemarsh. Cross sees the close game against a 2022 state qualifier as a building block for the season ahead.
“The girls who this is their first year on varsity,” Cross said, “as the game went on you saw their confidence grow. Maeve (Hogan), freshman defender, she was all over helping. (Freshman) Ava Shohen, they were helping in transition. That’s what we needed – the younger girls to step up so that the older girls that have had experience could also have help to take control of the ball.”
Methacton 8, Upper Dublin 7
Upper Dublin 2 5 – 7
Methacton 7 1 – 8
Goals: UD: Paige Dinkel 3, Ella Lyon 3, Anna DiMartile. M: Megan Sanelli 3, Michelle Zhai 3, Giada Catoia, Alexa Diezel.
Assists: UD: Kelly Senior, Anna DiMartile, Ella Lyon, Paige Dinkel. M: Michelle Zhai 2, Mackenzie Coupe, Megan Sanelli.