HAVERFORD – Coming into the season, Academy of Notre Dame head coach Adele Williams had her reasons to be uncertain of what to expect from her goaltending situation.
After all, the Irish boasted the top goalie and player in the area a year ago with Daily Times Player of the Year Emily Fuss. Fuss nearly had more shutouts than goals allowed, and she was a steadying influence on the defense in front of her.
So when Gabby Carlini, Williams’ JV goalie a year ago, knew she’d get the nod, she had her work cut out for her. But it seems like all the work that Carlini put in in the offseason is paying off for her and ND, at least two games in. Carlini has blanked both Villa Maria and Haverford, making 10 saves in both games, and she had to make a handful of late saves in the 8-0 rout of the Fords to keep that goose egg. That included a pair of stops on Haverford two-time All-Delco Jess McCarthy and a few other in-close saves.
“I was hoping going into (the season) that I wouldn’t completely (mess up),” said Carlini, a sophomore. “I really wasn’t expecting (the two straight shutouts).”
Carlini showcased her athleticism against the Fords with some saves that required her to move laterally, a task she handled with ease. She looked extremely fluid in net and has the ability to recover from a lapse in positioning with her quickness. Additionally, Carlini feels that the advice that she picked up from Fuss, a Dickinson freshman, will go a long way.
“She was, like, my idol,” Carlini said of Fuss. “There definitely is (pressure to live up to), but I’m a totally different player. I have a different style, but much of what I learned came from her. She taught me a lot about confidence, directing the defense, how to adjust to Notre Dame in general.”
While the odds are against Carlini posting a shutout in every game, she’s not discounting the possibility.
“Hopefully,” she said. “You never know.”
Two-time All-Delco Moira Putsch went off for seven points in that rout of Haverford, and that vaulted her to the top of the list in county scoring. She did that in front of North Carolina head coach and Daily Times Field Hockey Player of the Millennium Karen Shelton, and Maryland assistant Dina Rizzo. Those just happen to be two schools that comprise half of Putsch’s final four collegiate choices, joining Duke and Virginia. Putsch is widely considered one of the best, if not the best, recruits nationally for the 2013 class, and when she makes her decision, there’s little doubt she’ll make one of those coaches incredibly happy.
“It’d be so awesome to play with Em because she’s such a great player and one of my best friends,” Putsch said. “It definitely has an influence on it. But they’re all such good schools, and they’re all even. I’ll be happy with whatever. I visited Maryland, UVA and UNC already last spring, and I’m going to go back to all four again this fall.”
From what I gleaned in speaking with both Williams and Notre Dame athletic director Peg Desendorf, don’t expect this decision to wait too much longer. And that surgically-repaired left knee that gave Putsch some problems last year?
“It’s not even bothering me at all,” Putsch said. “Sometimes I would get these weird pains just from walking, but I don’t feel anything anymore.”
Another major nonleague game last night was Cardinal O’Hara traveling to Garnet Valley and knocking off the Jaguars, 3-1. All-Delco Grace Boston got on the board with her first goal of the year and an assist, but two games in, it’s been Marissa Cicione carrying the offensive load for the Lions. She has two goals in both O’Hara games, and that bodes very well for the Lions if she can keep a similar pace throughout the season.
But the biggest thing for O’Hara was getting that win. Simply put, it’s a statement win that lets the area know that the Lions are among the county’s elite. Going to Garnet Valley and beating a team that’s expected to contend for the Central League title is huge for O’Hara’s confidence, especially with a young team that has unlimited potential. Think maybe Archbishop Carroll noticed that win?
Some of the usual suspects are on the scoring leaders board, but a couple of players that have caught my eye as far as making an impact are a pair of players better known for their defense in Garnet Valley All-Delco Eleanor Kirby and Strath Haven’s Jessica Borbee. Kirby connected on a penalty stroke against O’Hara — “it was a really, really nice shot,” O’Hara head coach Marie Murphy said with a bit of awe in her voice — and already has three goals to her name.
Borbee scored a goal in the Panthers’ 2-0 win over West Chester Rustin to up her early total to three points. Not bad for a player who earned effusive praise from Central League coaches for her defensive work. She’ll definitely be a player to keep an eye on.
– MATT CHANDIK