Field Hockey: Sacred Heart takes down St. Basil, Strath Haven’s dominant defense, and random musings

Kerri Shallow has two goals on the young season, and she’s hoping she and Sacred Heart can keep up their pace all the way to a title.

TIMES STAFF/JULIA WILKINSON

RADNOR – If there’s supposed to be an awkward adjustment period after changing coaches and losing a ton of talented seniors, no one told the Country Day School of the Sacred Heart.

It’s early, but the Lions are showing their mettle in a pair of close Catholic Academies League game. They started their season with a 1-0 win over Villa Joseph Marie, and followed it up Tuesday with a 2-0 blanking of St. Basil. A year ago, the Lions struggled in close games, dropping five one-goal games. Two games in, they’re showing that they win those close games, and that’s vital if they want to compete for a league championship. Against the Panthers, they dominated play for most of the game, outshooting St. Basil 31-9, but couldn’t breathe easily until junior Kerri Shallow buried a penalty stroke with 6:50 to go. But the key thing is that SH is winning those close games, a stark change from a year ago.

“Last year, …we got off to a bad start,” said Shallow, who leads the team with two goals. “This year, we’re 2-0, and it’s giving us a lot of confidence against the bigger teams like Mount (St. Joseph) and Merion (Mercy), and Notre Dame, so we’re just going to push ourselves really hard to try to win.”

Another key factor that Shallow credited was the arrival of new head coach Rory Callaghan. Not that Shallow had any problems with former head coach Meredith Rull, but the Lions seem at ease under Callaghan’s leadership, and there’s hope that the Sacred Heart alum can take the Lions to new heights.

“She’s great,” Shallow said of Callaghan. “She definitely really tells us what we’re doing wrong. It really helps us, and we’re learning so much. We had a great coach last year, but (Callaghan)’s more outspoken, and she’s not afraid to tell us anything.”

ooo

Strath Haven raised a few eyebrows Tuesday when it shut out Garnet Valley, 2-0. It’s not so much the win that surprised, but the fact that the Panthers were able to hold an explosive Jaguars offense off the board. Garnet Valley boasts dangerous threats like Katie Keyser and All-Delco Eleanor Kirby, but Strath Haven’s defensive versatility was on display yet again.

“In the first half, they were very dangerous,” Strath Haven head coach Amanda Fishwick-Lawson. “But we denied Kirby the ball and marked Keyser so she couldn’t receive a pass and then break away.”

A wise choice, considering Keyser is a track All-Delco and Kirby is as versatile a player as there is in the county. But Fishwick-Lawson had another ace up her sleeve in sophomore Katie Sherry. Sherry “is a track star and can run forever,” according to her coach, and was incredibly effective at shutting Keyser down.

That stingy defense is nothing new to the Panthers, though. They’ve been nothing short of dominant in their first four games (3-0-1). Goalie Caroline Boyd has three shutouts to her name and only one shot has found its way past her, but she’s only been called upon to make nine total saves. Pretty good job if you can get it, especially if that involves defenders like Jess BorbeeCasey Oehler, Sherry’s twin Bridget, and the steadily-improving Margaret Mester. Oehler has particularly stood out to her coach.

“Jess has been playing a lot of offense for us, too, so Casey’s really doing a lot of the defensive work,” Fishwick-Lawson said.

Looks like it’s paying dividends.

ooo

Here are some random notes to pass along.

Grace Boston was the All-Delco at Cardinal O’Hara a year ago, but Marissa Cicione is the early go-to sniper for the Lions with three straight two-goal games.

Episcopal Academy All-Delco Alana Dumas is off to a torrid start with 12 points in four games, and she’s getting plenty of help from Margaux Paolino (six goals) and Kelly McGowan (three goals). Next week’s showdown between the Churchmen and archrival Notre Dame pits the county’s two leading scorers against each other in Dumas and Irish two-time All-Delco Moira Putsch (13 points). Think there will be some goals scored?

Garnet Valley goalie Hailey Valerio has been tested early and often for the Jaguars, but she’s risen to the occasion. In five games, she has 51 saves with a respectable 83.6 save percentage.

Haverford finally scored more than one goal and – surprise! – won because of it. Two-time All-Delco Jess McCarthy finally got on the board in the Fords’ 2-0 win over Ridley, as did Morgan Druce. Those two need to score more if Haverford wants to win the Central League.

How about Interboro shaking up the Del Val League by taking out two-time defending champion Chichester? The Bucs undoubtedly took great joy in beating their big rival, but the downside – upside? – of the Del Val slate is that Chi will have two more cracks at getting revenge. I saw the Eagles play Ridley last week, and while they struggled with the Green Raiders, there’s a lot to work with. Goalie Sarah Murray has done an excellent job in the early going, but the Eagles need to give her some offense to work with. Similar problem to what the Bucs had in the first two games, but they finally got on the board when Holly Davis and Kinjal Patel sent shots past Murray.

The revelation of the young season? Marple Newtown goalie Megan Peterson. Peterson already has three shutouts to her name, and she’s checking in with a robust 94.9 save percentage. She’s going to have to keep up her ridiculous pace if the Tigers continue to struggle scoring – three goals in four games , all by Trez Knox.

Marple Newtown’s victim Tuesday, Penncrest, has also had its share of trouble when it comes to finding the back of the cage. But when the Lions score, it’s usually Caroline Nichols. She has five of Penncrest’s seven goals on the season. Goalie Maddie Malone has been sharp, too, turning away28 of 35 attempts.

Radnor’s leading scorer a year ago, Sydney Cowles, finally got on the board in Tuesday’s 7-2 drubbing of Lower Merion with a pair of goals and an assist. If she and Caroline Cunningham – a team-best five goals – can keep scoring, the Red Raiders could take advantage of a wide-open Central League.

Check back tomorrow for updated stat leaders.

– MATT CHANDIK

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