By Harry Chaykun
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/23/13
Harriton goalie Melina Avery didn’t have much to do in the first half of Tuesday’s Central League game with visiting Radnor.
The Rams junior had six shots thrown her way and got in front of three of them.
Things were a little more hectic in the second half, and Avery was there when her team needed her the most. Avery made seven saves in the final 25 minutes, two on 8-meter shots in the last four minutes as Harriton (10-1, 6-1) retained a share of first place with a 10-9 decision.
The Rams – ranked No. 2 by Phillylacrosse.com and No. 14 nationally by TopLaxRecruits.com – made the most of their 17 first-half shots, putting seven in the Radnor cage, including four in a seven-minute run by Jane Henderson. Sabrina Tabasso got two of her three scores in the opening half as Harriton earned a 7-3 advantage.
“They face-guarded Caleigh (Foust),” Harriton coach George Dick said of the Red Raiders’ defensive strategy in the first half. “We expected that and had worked on other plays, and Jane was the one who kept scoring.”
In the second half, Radnor (7-3, 5-2) outshot Harriton, 17-6, and earned seven draw controls to the Rams three. Sydney Cowles and Brooke Pancoast, both of whom had scored once before halftime, finished off hat tricks, and a goal by sophomore Reilly Masterson with seven minutes left cut Harriton’s lead to 10-9.
That’s when Avery and defenders Hillary Lemonick, Alison Tepper and freshman Alexa Foust took over and denied the Red Raiders in their attempts to tie the score.
Avery stopped Taylor Quinn on a free position shot with 4:30 to play, then she grabbed a shot from Sara Curley on another 8-meter attempt two minutes later. Caleigh Foust, Tabasso and Henderson used their speed and passing skills to wind the clock down until the final whistle sounded.
“There isn’t much to do (on free-position shots) but focus on the ball,” Avery, whose season got off to a slow start when she suffered a concussion at practice, said. “I like to try to keep calm, because I know I play better when I’m calm. To me, they were just like any other shots even though they were at an important part of the game.”
With Foust, Tabasso and Henderson firing shots at her each day at practice, Avery gets a lot of work in preparation for seeing the talented players she will face in Central League contests.
“It’s great to have good shooters like that to face in practice,” Avery said.
Avery also works on her goalkeeping skills when she is not at school.
“My sister, Lauren (a sixth-grader), is playing now and I’m her (goalie) coach,” she said.
Tabasso and Melvin worked together during the winter with the Harriton basketball team. It was Tabasso’s pass to Melvin that gave the Rams’ their final goal.
“I play defense and I play attack,” Tabasso, whose interception started Harriton’s last scoring play, said. “We’re very familiar with Radnor and know they’ll always be tough to play.”
Radnor coach Brooke Fritz, whose team hosts Strath Haven in another important Central League game Thursday, was disappointed her team put itself in a big hole early against Harriton.
“We didn’t do too much in the first half,” Fritz said. “Then when we came back, it turned out to be too little too late.”
Harriton 10, Radnor 9
Radnor 3 6 – 9
Harriton 7 3 – 10
Radnor: Sydney Cowles 3G, Brooke Pancoast 3G, Kaelee Helms 1G, Shannon Quinn 1G, Reilly Masterson 1G, Lyndsey Britton 1A.
Harriton: Jane Henderson 4G, Sabrina Tabasso 3G 1A, Katie Melvin 3G.
Saves – Radnor: Grace Collins 4. Harriton: Melina Avery 10.