When it comes time to trying to figure out the hierarchy in the Central League, the girls side of the draw isn’t as confounding as the boys. Nonetheless, this week there’s some movement – both upward and downward – from the early-season expectations, with a pair of high risers impressively proving their mettle last week. (Records based on games reported to the Daily Times through Sept. 21.)
1. Strath Haven (6-1-1) Last Week: No. 2
The No. 12 is the operative statistic for the Panthers, not just because it’s double their current winning streak, which stands at six. Lizzie King’s game-winning goal against Conestoga is her 12th of a phenomenal season, while goalkeeper Katie Fisher made 12 saves to keep the Pioneers at bay, a rare workload for a Panthers goalkeeper.
2. Agnes Irwin (2-0) Last Week: No. 1
Somehow, the Owls don’t have a three-game week until the middle of October. That sound you hear is an exasperated sigh from PIAA coaches feeling the schedule crunch. They move down simply for lack of a signature statement game to remain in the No. 1 spot, an opportunity Strath Haven successfully capitalized on against Conestoga.
3. Garnet Valley (6-3) Last Week: No. 4
The Jaguars haven’t just won six straight. They’ve done so with a pair of overtime wins, the kind of gritty victories you’d expect such a veteran team to grind out. They’re a team that has the structure from front to back to maintain the hot streak.
4. Notre Dame (4-1) Last Week: No. 5
Julia Dambly has six goals in her last two games. If defenses are going to key on Phoebe McClernon (as well they should), Dambly has to be there to pick up the offensive slack. All indications are that she’s more than capable of that.
5. Penncrest (8-2) Last Week: NR
The big risers this week are the Lions, who thrashed Haverford, 5-1. They are winners of four straight, including quality wins against Lower Merion and the Fords. You have to wonder what kind of shape they’d be in if not for that overtime loss to Garnet Valley. In any event, consider that Olivia Mancarella has scored all 13 of her goals in the Lions’ eight wins.
6. Haverford (7-3) Last Week: No. 3
It’s perhaps time to face the fact that the Fords aren’t the Central League contenders that I had made them out to be. They’d be in even worse shape if Jess Lyons didn’t find the overtime game-winner against Radnor last week.
7. Marple Newtown (4-2-2) Last Week: NR
The Tigers move up via their overtime win against Springfield, a big missed chance for the Cougars. The defense needs to be shored up (they haven’t kept a clean sheet in five games), but otherwise the Tigers are squarely in the middle of the Central League pack
Honorable mention: Delco Christian (5-1-1, struggling against a Shipley team that Springfield saw off pretty easily gives me a little bit of pause); Springfield (4-4-1, turn around one-goal losses to Marple (in OT) and Garnet Valley and the draw with Strath Haven, and the Cougars postseason credentials are looking much better); Radnor (4-3, the Raiders had chances to state their case as a top-half team in the Central, but losing in overtime to Haverford means they fall short of that mark).