Abing­ton meets its match

Res­o­lute Cen­tral Bucks East hands Ghosts first loss of sea­son

Times Chronicle & Public Spirit - - SPORTS - By An­drew Robin­son arobin­son@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @ADRobin­son3 on Twit­ter

It was a prime op­por­tu­nity for Cam Lexow.

The Abing­ton se­nior mid­fielder took a shot in­side the box, strik­ing it hard, low and through traf­fic. It was the sort of shot that most times, would have gone in the back of the net. CB East keeper Kiera Don­nelly made sure it was one of the other times, slid­ing across her goal line and punch­ing the shot away from the post.

Lexow could only turn and swing her arm in frus­tra­tion. It was that type of night for Abing­ton. A pair of qual­ity goals backed up a com­mit­ted and res­o­lute de­fen­sive ef­fort as CB East topped Abing­ton 2-0 Mon­day night at Sch­warz­man Sta­dium. Aside from hand­ing Abing­ton its first loss, the Pa­tri­ots got a much-needed win at a cru­cial junc­ture of their sea­son.

“We came out as a team to­day and we were all very mo­ti­vated, it’s been a hard sea­son but we’ve built each other up and stayed pos­i­tive and I think it’s helped,” East de­fender Anna Bound said. “There was just a lot of en­ergy com­ing from the bench and the field, it’s re­ally a fam­ily.”

East’s pro­gram is built on its de­fense but the Pa­tri­ots had a tall order in front of them on Mon­day try­ing to slow down Abing­ton, es­pe­cially its trio of Lexow, Casey Touey and Kai­ley Horton. Bound, the Pa­tri­ots’ right back, spent most of the night tan­gling with Horton up and down the flanks and won plenty of key tack­les in that bat­tle.

The Pa­tri­ots also thrive by play­ing a con­stantly pres­sur­ing sys­tem and it was the per­fect recipe to catch the Ghosts early. East at­tacked hard off the open­ing tip, get­ting a bit of sus­tained pos­ses­sion early and capped it off with

their first tally not even four min­utes in.

“They played very, very well and were te­na­cious and their goalie played out of her mind,” Abing­ton coach Rick Tomp­kins said. “We had qual­ity chances but it wasn’t meant to be. It makes them have to dig down and come back to­mor­row to show this was a blip. This was our first taste of ad­ver­sity.”

East cen­ter mid­fielder Marissa Plack, usu­ally the team’s free kick taker, was able to carry the ball off a flank into space in the mid­dle of the field and chanced a shot from dis­tance. She hit the ball right on the money and it the right vane of wind blow­ing across the field, ham­mer­ing her ef­fort into the back of the net.

For a squad that’s had its share of ups and downs this fall, it was a much-needed break­through.

“I knew there was a big open­ing in the mid­dle and I knew we needed to score a goal early, so I just took it,” Plack said. “It went in and I was pretty sur­prised. I think it helped us pos­i­tively and we played re­ally well on a high af­ter that.”

CB East kept rolling af­ter that goal but Ghosts keeper Ash­ley Hop­per made six of her seven saves in the first half to keep her team in the game. Tomp­kins noted his team has been slow-start­ing all sea­son, which the Pa­tri­ots were all too happy to take ad­van­tage of.

Re­gard­ing those Abing­ton chances, be­cause the Ghosts had plenty, they couldn’t have come with much worse luck. Mid­fielder Abby Bautista twice struck the cross­bar in the first half, Horton put a re­bound over the net and Lexow had a driven free kick stopped by Don­nelly.

“It’s un­usual that be­tween Kai­ley, Cam­ryn and Casey, we didn’t get any­thing out of the three of them,” Tomp­kins said. “The good thing is, it’s early in the sea­son. We’ll see what we’re made of, we have Chel­tenham (Tues­day), Spring­field Thurs­day and we can get back at in the con­fer­ence.”

East took a 2-0 lead when Brooke Zarzy­cki broke through the back line into open space and put a ter­rific hit into the net with 24:58 left in the match.

The Pa­tri­ots felt one goal wasn’t go­ing to be enough, so the in­sur­ance tally only em­bold­ened their ef­forts on the de­fen­sive end. While the en­tire back line played well, they still gave up some chances but in their fa­vor was Don­nelly.

Only a sopho­more, the keeper started the sea­son third on the depth chart but a string of in­juries has forced her into a start­ing role. She was ex­cel­lent on Mon­day, mak­ing five stops and plenty of needed plays like leav­ing her line early and grab­bing a free ball a split-sec­ond be­fore Touey could get to it.

“I felt like if we kept her calm and kept her con­fi­dent, then the whole team would lift up around her,” Bound said. “She started the sea­son as a backup, and she’s amaz­ing at what she does but step­ping onto a var­sity field half­way through the sea­son can be very nerve-wrack­ing. She did such a great job.”

CB East’s de­fense starts up top, where its for­wards press the ball at the back and ex­tends all the way back to the keeper. The Pa­tri­ots weren’t shy about sell­ing out de­fen­sively either, throw­ing a leg or body in front of Abing­ton’s shots or crosses into the 18-yard box.

“We put our bod­ies on the line tonight and I think it helped, there wasn’t any wait­ing for it to drop,” Bound said.

“We all put our hearts out on the field for each other,” Plack said. “We know we can de­pend on each other.”

The Ghosts have non­league games sched­uled with Ne­shaminy and Pen­nridge still to go this sea­son, plus the sec­ond half of SOL Amer­i­can play and no­tably re­matches with Up­per Dublin and Hat­boro-Hor­sham.

“CB East is a qual­ity pro­gram, Ne­shaminy is a qual­ity pro­gram, Pen­nridge is a qual­ity pro­gram,” Tomp­kins said. “I set these games up by de­sign, our girls aren’t go­ing to get any bet­ter if they don’t get chal­lenged. We got chal­lenged tonight, we didn’t meet it but we’ll back at it to­mor­row.”

GENE WALSH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Abing­ton’s Kai­ley Horton set­tles a pass near CB East’s Is­abel Hunter Mon­day night.

GENE WALSH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Abing­ton’s Cam­ryn Lexow ad­vances the ball near CB East’s Marissa Plack Mon­day night.

GENE WALSH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Abing­ton’s Casey Touey po­si­tions her­self to con­trol the ball in front of CB East’s Olivia Port­ner Mon­day night.

GENE WALSH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Abing­ton’s Kaleigh Se­ri­anni looks to pass against CB East Mon­day night.

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