I know most of my game story in Thursday’s paper on the Springfield-Haverford tilt focused on the ramifications for the Central League standings. It was merely justifying how long I had to think about and sort them out just to get a coherent, print-ready paragraph.
Lost in the postseason glow were a few other tidbits that I think deserve to come to light.
– Emily Verica’s goal was absolutely huge, for reasons beyond the final score. Though it was only a couple of minutes into the second half, it still felt like it was completely against the run of play, with Haverford enjoying the better of chances through most of the first half. It was a composed finish, with Haverford goalkeeper Kelly Rogers coming out to challenge and make herself big, as they say. But Verica still managed to volley one past her for her team-leading sixth goal of the season.
– Before Verica’s goal, I was inclined to believe the match would end scoreless. After the marker, I would’ve thought for sure that another goal was in the offing, probably from the home team. But the job done by Springfield’s defense was simply outstanding. Emily Paulus was typically solid as she has been from day one this season, Aly Gormley stood out for her aggressiveness in challenging balls played into the danger areas, and Megan Tronco seemed to always have the big boot ready to clear the ball out under duress.
– Things got more than a little chippy late, with a handful of very questionable calls (and no-calls). It was equal-opportunity confusion benefiting both sides but still left a sour taste in the mouth of many of the Fords.
– To those ends, part of the Cougars shutout effort, which included very strong backing from goalkeeper Stacey Porter, was the physicality their midfield showed. Shynelle Fry and Autumn Spence rarely shied away from challenges; they were able to take just enough sting out of the Fords attack and hold up play long enough for the Cougars to clear their lines.
– The Haverford attack has had trouble finishing at times this season. But they have a ton of talented pieces. Olivia Butera, responsible for eight of the 22 goals they’ve scored this season, is merely a sophomore. Luara Slavich, a defender who is an excellent aerial threat and knows when to come forward in attack – as Porter’s crossbar can attest – is a junior. And the lightning fast Athena Pilato, who repeatedly drew chants of “She’s a freshman” from the home supporters, is a nightmare to cover on the flanks.