Unfortunate finish costs Bears result against district champs
BOYERTOWN » Games like Friday’s season opener between Pennsbury and host Boyertown typically come down to one thing: who can avoid the big mistake.
Pennsbury could. Boyertown couldn’t.
The defending District 1 Class 4A champions got off to a fortuitous winning start when Pennsbury senior Christine Cataldo-Smith capitalized on a Boyertown defender’s slip in the second overtime for a 2-1 OT win in the driving rain at Boyertown.
It was Cataldo-Smith’s second goal of the game, a sparkling start for a player that showed a nose for goal during the Falcons’ excellent run to a District 1 championship and place in the PIAA Championships. She was a familiar foil to other Pioneer Athletic Conference opposition in 2017, scoring in district playoff wins over Owen J. Roberts (semifinal) and Spring-Ford (final).
It was a hard-luck finish for Boyertown, which led by a goal early in the second half on a Maggie Kiene header from a Mikayla Moyer corner kick.
That goal came against the run of play with Pennsbury largely in charge in the second half, a change from the first half where the Bears had the better of the opportunities. The Falcons were deserving of their score with close to 10 minutes left in regulation when a Boyertown attempted clearance was pinged right back into the area on the right for sophomore Gianna Durle, who centered to a wide open Cataldo-Smith for two touches and an easy finish to make it 1-1.
“I told everyone, ‘Take a breath, we can come back from this.’ That’s what we did last season, especially in the beginning of the season,” Cataldo-Smith said. “We would find a way to pull through in the end.”
Despite losing nine seniors from that championship side, including Lizzy Kirk (Seton Hall), Dani Cady (West Chester) and Jenna Peters (West Chester), Cataldo-Smith says she’s optimistic about maintaining the high standard set during last year’s 19-2-2 campaign.
“It’s exciting actually,” Cataldo-Smith said. “Some people were a little worried – people that aren’t on the team but knew all the seniors that graduated – that we wouldn’t have a good year. But even in tryouts and before, we knew there were people that can step in. We lost two great wingers who really helped us out last year but we have four different players that are subbing in and they’re really putting in the work. It’s really helping us.”
Both sides had halfchances in the overtime periods, but the game looked destined and deserving of a draw.
It’s why the slip on a ball in between the back line and goalkeeper Mattie Gallagher that led to Cataldo-Smith’s open-net winner stung for Boyertown, but still left them to take some heart in the fact that they were right with an opponent with pedigree that is bound for a winning record.
“It was physical, both teams mirrored one another, were strong defensively where there weren’t very many chances for either side,” Boyertown coach Bill Goddard said. “I’m disappointed with the result – I didn’t think we deserved the result we got.
“(Assistant coach) Matt (Danner) and I were talking and he said, ‘This game is going to be decided by who makes a mistake.’ And sure enough, we did. But I loved the effort our kids gave. A year ago we went down there and they pushed us all over the place. The girls played really well and I like where we are.”
The Bears bring back a good bit of experience with seniors Ryane Bernstiel, Aurora Conrad, Grace Conover, Cassidy Landis, Mackenzie Haley, Sierra Landes, Kiene, Mackenzie Fatzinger and Bria Smith, while junior Emma Elwell and sophomore Samantha Goffice looked promising in the opener.
“We have 11 seniors, good leaders, the team chemistry is good and we have a nice bunch of juniors and sophomores that have complemented things,” Goddard said. “I think we’re always going to be in the conversation in the league and hopefully in the district this year.”
oyertown’s Maggie Kiene (18) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal against Pennsbury in the second half Friday.
Boyertown’s Bria Smith, left, sends a pass forward as Pennsbury’s Rosie Bostian pressures Friday.
Pennsbury’s Christine Cataldo-Smith, left, goes in for a slide tackle against Boyertown’s Ryane Bernstiel during their game Friday.
Boyertown’s Morgan Kline (17) and Pennsbury’s Rosie Bostian battle for the ball Friday.