Although his team played much of the match in its defensive third of the field, Friends coach Nick Gill was still upbeat after the Quakers fell, 2-1, to Notre Dame Prep on Thursday afternoon in Roland Park in the opener for both teams.
"We were looking to learn from this game," said Gill, whose team should be a serious contender for an Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference championship this season after advancing to a semifinal last year. "Obviously, we wanted to win, but I told the girls before the game, 'Nobody's expecting you to win this game today.' They (NDP) were in the (IAAM) A Conference semifinals last year. I'm happy how we grew today against a very good team."
Conversely, the Blazers could take heart from creating a slew of scoring opportunities against a young and maturing Friends backline in the second half.
"We're still trying to learn how to turn pretty plays into goals," NDP coach Chris Lopez said. "Once the girls start playing together, we should get better at it."
The biggest stumbling block for NDP was sophomore keeper Bianca Washington, whose eight saves in the final 40 minutes kept the score close and gave the Quakers hope.
A diving save by Washington midway through the second half denied senior midfielder Casey Clarke, whose 18-yard rocket was set up by junior defender Sarah Hannan. In the 75th minute, senior forward Sarah Frey suffered a similar fate.
"Their goalie was terrific," Lopez said.
However, the Blazers solved Washington early in first half when senior Rachael Consoli, on a Frey assist, broke through and junior Julia Mangione, set up by Clarke, gave them a 2-0 advantage.
"We should compete for a championship this season said Clarke, a Phoenix resident. "We just have to work on our shooting."
By the time Friends finally scored (71st minute) on a great individual effort by freshman striker Julia MacGibney, there wasn't much time afterward to net the equalizer.
Yet Gill felt his senior-less squad acquitted itself in a positive manner.
"We wanted to throw them right into the fire," he said about scheduling such a talented non-conference opponent to open the campaign.
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