Susan Reutter wasn’t too pleased Wednesday, but it would be kind of tough to blame the Academy Park coach considering what had just happened.
The Knights dropped to 0-2 after an 18-1 loss at the hands of Cardinal O’Hara, so Reutter had every reason to be ever-so-slightly miffed. It’s a good news, bad news situation for Reutter and AP, though. The bad news is that they got handled easily by an improving Lions team at home. The good news is that the Knights are still a candidate for the Del Val title, so there’s reason to be optimistic.
The biggest reason for optimism is the improvement of senior goalie Megan Barlow. Barlow started a year ago for the Knights and had to deal with growing pains, but she still managed to post one of the highest save totals in the county as a rookie. This year, she looks a lot more confident and poised in net. Even though she gave up 18 goals against O’Hara, it would have been tough for an All-American to stop several of those chances. The Knights simply don’t have the depth to hang around with a program like the Lions, but Barlow is a good start.
She came through with 14 saves, including several point-blank opportunities, and showed that she’s a completely different goalie this year. She moves a lot better, clears fairly well and tracks the ball well, so it’s no surprise that she will play at the collegiate level for Cabrini next year.
“She played club and she worked with Kim Jackson all winter,” Reutter said. “She’s dedicated to it. She’s focused on getting better and she works hard. She’s coachable. All those people know so much more about the position than I do, so the fact that she’s going out there and seeking that extra (help) is huge and she’s a good learner. She’s helping out the other goalie, too. She’s moving a little quicker.”
Barlow is one of the program’s few college commitments since the team started back up last year. Tanisha Joseph is playing at Shippensburg, so for Reutter to place another player in college is huge to help develop the program.
“I think Tanisha going to Shippensburg last year helped,” Reutter said. “If we can get one, especially at the beginning, it gets girls interested. We’ve got a senior who’s a videographer and he’s offered to make highlight tapes for all of the girls for much cheaper than normal, which also helps. I’ve gotten a lot of decent juniors that could probably play somewhere.”
Memuna Sillah and Gabby Lee are among that talented group of juniors. Sillah scored the lone goal against O’Hara and she’s got athleticism to burn. Even aside from the goal, she showed some talent for an overmatched AP team and Lee has wheels for days. Midfield suits her perfectly because she can run so well and she’ll be a major asset in transition for the Knights. Rosemarie Reitman will do a little bit of everything for the Knights. Against the Lions, that meant playing defense instead of attack, so versatility is a major asset.
“(Against the Lions) I pulled her back on “D”,” Reutter said. “She can kind of play anywhere. She’s usually on attack. She’s got great speed, she’s got a great shot, but we needed the aggressiveness on the (defensive) end.”
Another solid midfield option is Nicole Dominick. The relative newcomer to the sport has taken great strides to improve to the point where she gives Reutter some options at midfield.
“She’s been working hard, too,” Reutter said. “Last year was the first year she ever played, so she’s picked things up quickly.”
Reutter also expects good things from Ashley Dambreville, another player who put in offseason work with new Agnes Irwin coach Jen Duckenfield along with Dominick and Reitman.
“They’re going after it,” Reutter said. “That’s the big thing is wanting to get better and willing to work at it.”
The Del Val schedule will probably be a lot more forgiving to a young, inexperienced team like the Knights. Reutter doesn’t have any grand visions of competing for a state title any time soon, so she realizes that it’s more about developing and teaching the fundamentals.
Who knows? Maybe the wins will start to pile up because of it, too.
– MATT CHANDIK