New South coach keeps wins and losses in per­spec­tive

The Advance of Bucks County - - SPORTS - By John Glee­son

oe­gard­less of the sport, early sea­son ac­tion of­ten pro­vides more ups and downs than aor­ney Park’s Screamin’ ae­mon thrill ride. One game re­sults in lessons learned and the next, a dom­i­nant out­ing. The key is weath­er­ing the storm while smooth­ing out the rough edges.

The Coun­cil oock South girls soc­cer squad, un­der the guid­ance of first-year coach Kim Fran­cis, started off the 2012 cam­paign on just such a roller coaster ride. They lost their open­ing bat­tle to last year’s PCL cham­pion Arch­bishop Wood in a 1-0 game that cer­tainly could have gone ei­ther way. The dolden Hawks then roared back to record con­vinc­ing 4-0 wins over Abing­ton and Harry Tru­man. The ride took a dip last Wed­nes­day when this youth­ful Co team lost 4-1 to archri­val Penns­bury.

For­tu­nately, the dolden Hawks are blessed to have strong lead­er­ship and stel­lar play in the pres­ence of Paige Mcaow­ell, a force that should help them make their mark in the highly com­pet­i­tive SOL Na­tional aivi­sion. Last year, the per­son­able se­nior earned first team All-SOL con­fer­ence hon­ors af­ter scor­ing 12 goals.

Paige rec­og­nizes the role she must as­sume on a team that lost 13 se­niors to grad­u­a­tion. “I’m usu­ally very calm but I think be­ing one of the only se­niors on the team, I need to be the back­bone of the team. I have to show ev­ery­one we have to step it up. If I’m not a lit­tle bit louder and more force­ful, it’s not go­ing to hap­pen. Usu­ally I’m not the yeller. I just feel that be­ing a se­nior, I have to be a leader.”

Her ma­ture ap­proach helped put the Penns­bury loss in per­spec­tive. “It’s so un­for­tu­nate be­cause in some ways, I think we dom­i­nated the game. We had so many scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties but we couldn’t put them in. do­ing into that game, we felt good but we didn’t put the ball in the back of the net and they did.”

Though much of the ac­tion took place in front of Penns­bury’s goal, the Fal­cons seemed to cap­i­tal­ize the few times the ball went to­ward the Co end. doals by Lexi Brown, Me­gan En­ge­land, Emily Wun­der and Alexi Moore gave Penns­bury a 4-0 lead with only a few min­utes left in the con­test. A last-ditch ef­fort by oe­becca aavey off a feed from Paige Mcaow­ell helped the Hawks avoid a shutout.

Such a set­back could have proven fatal to such a young untested team. Coach Fran­cis tried to avert such a col­lapse. As Paige re­calls, “Af­ter the game, she ECoach Fran­cisF said we were go­ing to have to keep our heads up and get to prac­tice and stay fo­cused and wake up to­mor­row morn­ing and feel this never hap­pened.”

Paige added one more el­e­ment to the list of essen- tials. The Hawks needed to in­crease their offensive out­put. “The Penns­bury game was just like a funk. We just got into some­thing. I think we have so much po­ten­tial. We just have to continue to play to­gether be­cause it’s dif­fi­cult with so many fresh­men com­ing in. We lost 13 se­niors but all the fresh­men are just as tal­ented. I think the key for us is putting the ball in the net. If we do that, we’re safe. If we do that, we’re golden.”

Paige knew that the fol­low­ing game against Ben­salem could prove a turn­ing point in the sea­son. Prior to last Fri­day’s con­test, she said, “In the past, they have not been as top notch but this is a big game for us to come back and re­group and get ev­ery­thing set­tled. This will de­ter­mine our game play for the rest of the sea­son.”

Paige was cer­tainly de­ter­mined that any mo­men­tum com­ing out of the Bensa-

lem tus­sle would be aimed in a pos­i­tive di­rec­tion. She knows that she has been placed in the for­ward at­tack line for a rea­son. Her job is to ig­nite the of­fense “It’s sort of strange be­cause in club ball, I play sweeper. I have to say I like de­fense bet­ter be­cause I’m phys­i­cal and like to run peo­ple down. I don’t mind go­ing up for head­ers. But in high school I’m bet­ter up top and that’s where they need me. As a for­ward my job is to score.”

Against Ben­salem, Paige per­formed her task to per­fec­tion. She scored all three of her team’s goals as the Hawks took a con­vinc­ing 3-1 vic­tory.

Paige felt the vic­tory helped this year’s ver­sion of dolden Hawk soc­cer live up to the school’s sto­ried rep­u­ta­tion as a peren­nial power. “There def­i­nitely is some­thing to that. I know com­ing in my fresh­men year, we were one game away from the state ti­tle game. Hav­ing these ex­pec­ta­tions for the year is so nice. On our team, we have state champs, dis­trict champs and SOL champs. We say our goal ev­ery year is to get to states.”

Though a bit un­even, the Hawks’ early sea­son play of­fers ev­ery in­di­ca­tion they are go­ing to make a strong run for the post­sea­son playoffs.

Pho­tos by John Glee­son

Amanda Ni­cholas wins a header for Coun­cil Rock South in a re­cent soc­cer duel with Penns­bury won by the lady Fal­cons.

Emily Her­bert, left, con­trols the ball for the Fal­cons.

Erica Crosier bat­tles Penns­bury’s Brid­gett Cong­don for the ball.

Photo by John Glee­son

Paige McDow­ell con­trols the ball for Coun­cil Rock South.

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