By Harry Chaykun
The Garnet Valley defensive unit doesn’t wait until game day to face challenges.
At each Jaguars practice, the defenders do all they can to frustrate their high-scoring teammates on the attack unit.
“When I practice against Haley (Warden), I make up my mind that she’s not going to score,” Jags senior Katie Stec said. “I keep her from scoring, then when we play a game I just imagine Haley’s face on the girls I’m going to guard and tell myself they’re not going to score on me that day.”
Tuesday afternoon at Strath Haven, Stec and defensive mates Molly Savage, Nova Ward, Rachel Glenn, Michelle Koscinski, Kara Nakrasius and goalie Paige Mitros got some help from midfielders Warden and Dana Davis as Garnet Valley (2-0, 1-0) blanked the Panthers in the first half and rolled to a 15-6 victory in the Central League opener for both teams.
“Before the game, we talked about how we wanted to hold them to no more than five goals in a half,” said Stec, who will play at La Salle University next spring. “We held them scoreless for the first half half and they only got six goals so we did better than we wanted to.
“Molly, Nova and I have played together for a long time and were teammates on Brandywine Majors. We’ve learned about what it’s like to work together.”
Savage, who is headed to Drexel University to major in nursing and play lacrosse, indicated the Jaguars’ defensive intensity was a key to the victory.
“You play against people who can really shoot each day at practice and it really helps you get better as a defensive player,” she said. “We know we have to communicate with each other, and we can be really loud out there. We just try to keep working hard.
“After what happened last year, when we lost to (Strath Haven) twice, we were all motivated when we came here today.”
While the Garnet Valley defenders were limiting Strath Haven (1-1, 0-1) to four shots in the first half, the Jags who were on attack fired 18 shots at the Panthers’ goal and connected 11 times.
Sabrina Fusco scored all four of her goals before the break, and Davis chipped in with three of her four scores. Sophomore Emily Mathewson (four goals, one assist) came up with a pair of tallies in each half, and Warden had two goals and one assist at halftime.
“Our defense was awesome,” Garnet Valley head coach Jenny Purvis said. “It’s great to get a win in our first league game. Now we have to try to get ready for Radnor (Thursday night at home).”
Kathryn Restrepo scored three goals and Suzanna Penikis, Bridget Sherry and Katie Sherry got one goal apiece for Strath Haven. Bri Irons added a pair of assists.
“Sometimes you need a loss to help you go forward,” said Haven head coach Rachel Busza, whose team faces Springfield (Delco) Thursday in its next Central League game.
Garnet Valley 11 4 – 15
Strath Haven 0 6 – 6
Garnet Valley: Sabrina Fusco 4G 1A, Emily Mathewson 4G 1A, Dana Davis 4G, Haley Warden 2G 2A, Madi O’Brien 1G 1A, Erica Coyne 2A.
Strath Haven: Kathryn Restrepo 3G, Suzanna Penikis 1G, Bridget Sherry 1G, Katie Sherry 1G, Bri Irons 2A.
Saves – Garnet Valley: Paige Mitros 6; Strath Haven: Mikaela Carzo 11.