Still a lit­tle work to do at Penns­bury

The Advance of Bucks County - - SPORTS - By Steve Sher­man

Buck­sio­calS­ports Ed­i­tor

Last year, Penns­bury re­turned to the soc­cer pitch with a large group of young­sters. With that, the goal was sim­ple – just make the playoffs. The Fal­cons did just that, mak­ing a quick exit when they lost a close game to West Chester ri­val in their dis­trict opener.

An­other year older and with just about ev­ery­one back, the bar has been raised at Penns­bury.

“We want to win it all,” said ju­nior keeper Court­ney Bennett.

To­day against Strath Haven at home was a good test as to how far the Fal­cons have come.

Save a de­fen­sive lapse that led to a goal five min­utes in by se­nior Mor­gan dlass­ford, Penns­bury played a strong first half, emerg­ing from it with a 1-0 deficit.

The Fal­cons came back strong in the sec­ond half, yet still some­how the Pan­thers man­aged to pad their lead to 2-0 when ju­nior Kris­ten Miller put an­other goal into the back of the net.

“That sec­ond goal re­ally slowed us down,” said Penns­bury head coach Kait­lyn Bat­tiste. “We lost it a lit­tle bit in that sec­ond half un­til the last seven min­utes.”

“It was great to see the resur­gence but hope­fully we see that a lit­tle bit ear­lier in the fu­ture.”

Penns­bury came back from the tem­po­rary funk it slid into to chal­lenge Strath Haven the fi­nal 10 min­utes of the game. Speedy Fal­con for­ward Oche On­uoha fi­nally broke the seal around the Pan­thers’ net when she came through with a header with less than seven min­utes to go.

“She has amaz­ing speed and she’s re­ally worked on fin­ish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties,” said Bat­tiste. “To­day she put a great one away. It was awe­some to see her first goal of the sea­son com­ing off her head and not just her feet.

“She’s work­ing on be­ing able to use all of her skills and putting them all to­gether.”

The goal might have meant more had Penns­bury ju­nior mid­fielder Lizzie Her­man hit pay­dirt a few mo­ments ear­lier when she re­ceived a pass inside the box from On­uoha with the only thing stand­ing be­tween her and the back of the net was Pan­thers keeper Krissy Welsh. Some­how, Welsh got her gloves on the ball as she laid out to her right to deny Her­man.

“We started off a lit­tle slow,” ad­mit­ted Bennett, cur­rently nurs­ing a pre­sea­son in­jury that has kept her on the side­lines the first week of the 2012 cam­paign. “We picked it up as the game went on.”

The Fal­cons ap­plied pres- sure on the Strath Haven goal the rest of the way but try as they might, Penns­bury could not get the equal­izer. GGG NEW FACES Penns­bury does have a few new faces in the lineup start­ing with ju­nior Kylie Howe, who plays op­po­site On­uoha up top.

“She’s one of our most im­proved play­ers in terms of play­ing above her size,” said Bat­tiste. “She’s a lit­tle girl all of about five feet tall but she has play­ing much big­ger than that to­day – re­ally pro­tect­ing the ball and get­ting her body around the de­fend­ers.”

“She’s small but she can get through peo­ple,” said Bennett.

Step­ping up to the plate in the mid­field are sopho­more Me­gan En­ge­land and fresh­man Abby Wick, play­ing her first year on var­sity.

Se­nior Brid­get Cong­don – one of four cap­tains on the team – is back on de­fense, help­ing so­lid­ify the de­fense.

“She leads by ex­am­ple,” said Bat­tiste of Cong­don. She’s not the most out­spo­ken cap­tain but you know you’re get­ting 100 per­cent from her ev­ery time she steps onto the field.”

Se­nior Lexi Brown is back up top. An­other one of the cap­tains along with Bennett and ju­nior Cas­san- dra Burger, Brown led the way with two goals and two as­sists in a 4-1 vic­tory over Ben­salem Sept. 6 in the league opener.

Brown is the un­or­dained leader of the of­fense this sea­son if she wasn’t al­ready in 2011.

“She wants

it more than

of Brown. “She doesn’t let her­self off the hook and she doesn’t let her team­mates off the hook and they see that.

“She’s a the time.”

Ju­nior Sarah jcDon­ald kept the Owls at bay in goal for the Fal­cons and did a nice job Fri­day ver­sus Strath Haven.

At 1-1 over­all and 1-0 in the SOL Na­tional Con­fer­ence, the coach sees room for this team to im­prove, how­ever.

“We still have a few kinks we need to work out,” ad­mit­ted Bat­tiste.

“To­day, we came out a lit­tle lax in terms of our men-

com­peti­tor

all tal fo­cus. We need to get a han­dle on that if we are go­ing to com­pete against the best teams in the league.”

Penns­bury has a big week ahead, fac­ing both Coun­cil oock North and Co South.

A year ago, North won 17 games un­der first-year coach Larry Sul­li­van, made it to the dis­trict fi­nals and the state quar­ters. The In­di­ans lost 14 se­niors how­ever but looked strong when they de­feated Catholic League peren­nial power Arch­bishop Wood by a 2-1 score Sept. 4 on their home turf.

Co South won 15 games last year and lost five though three of those games were to Co North and two were suf­fered at the hands of Pen­nridge.

Photo by Steve Sher­man

Penns­bury ju­nior Kylie Howe (No. 9, left) is one of the new faces for the Fal­cons, who are off to a 3-1 start in the SOL Na­tional con­fer­ence.

Photo by Steve Sher­man

Fal­cons back­fielder Cassandra Burger in­serts the ball from the cor­ner.

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