By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/28/08
Bayard Rustin attacker Alyssa Gallen said her team did not play smart at the outset of Thursday’s District One Class AAA quarterfinal against visiting Abington.
“Their defense is strong and we started to take it one-on-one in the beginning,” she said after the Golden Knights held on for a 10-9 victory. “We saw it wasn’t working. So, we pulled it out and we worked our cuts and waited for the good cuts.
“That left a couple girls open. They started to sag in the middle and we were open all over the place.”
Rustin (16-2) – ranked second by Phillylacrosse.com – advanced to Saturday’s semifinals at 2 p.m. against Downingtown West, a 15-9 winner over Ridley.
A big reason the third-seeded Knights are returning to the semifinals was surge of five unanswered goals that turned a 3-1 deficit into a 6-3 lead early in the second half.
Gallen had two of her game-high three goals during the spurt while Kelsey Corbett, Jillian Dougherty and Leana Brewer finished with two goals each.
Abington (18-2), the sixth seed, pulled within one goal, 6-5, but fell behind, 10-7, before getting within 10-9 on late goals by Kate Cooper (her second, with 4:11 to play) and Kailee Ashby (her third, with 1:26 left).
But Rustin goalie Kelsey Sward (14 saves) made some key save in the closing minutes and the Knights held on.
“My kids played with a lot of heart and heart won today,” Knights coach Dale Watkins said. “This is where we were last year; we just have to take that next step.”
Added Gallen: “Last year we went to the semifinals, but this year we’re older, more mature and we know what we have to do.”
For Abington, the loss caused many tears to be shed. The Ghosts felt they had something to prove after settling for a tie with North Penn for the Suburban One National Conference tie after rumbling through most of the season undefeated.
They wanted to show they could reach the semifinals and knock off a top seed. But coach Julie Martinez had only praise for her team’s comeback and its season overall.
“We had opportunities,” said Martinez, who especially praised her three senior standouts (Lisa O’Donnell, Kelly Condon and Rachel Dirksen) and junior goalie Alisha Aquilino (12 saves). “We’re fighters and we play with heart, and some days it’s just not your time. Abington’s been knocking on the door the past few years. We have two losses this season – both by one goal.
“So, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. This was a tremendous season by any means.”