Friends School took a 1-0 lead over host Mount de Sales during a see-saw first half on Thursday afternoon, and that didn’t sit well with a Sailor squad that had haunting memories of a last-minute loss to them last season.
The explosive Sailors responded with four unanswered goals in the second half and they held the Quakers without a shot on goal in a 4-1 triumph.
The win pulled the Sailors (8-2, 4-0 in conference) into a tie with Seton Keough (8-3-2, 4-0) in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference.
Seton Keough will play at Mount de Sales on Saturday (Oct. 6) at 1 p.m. and Sailor coach Mary Gentner is looking forward to the homecoming day game.
“Seton Keough is a good club and they are fast and quick and they like to take shots,” Gentner said.
Sounds a lot like the Sailors in the second half against Friends, after the Quakers had taken a 1-0 lead with 11:45 left in the first half on flick into the goal by Olivia Reed following a drive into the circle by Weezie Foster.
“It was beautiful,” Friends coach Sarah Foster said. “All I say to the girls is just get a stick on it and redirect it.”
The goal lit a spark in the Sailors after halftime and the never let the flames die down.
The Sailors scored all four goals in the first 17:12 of the second half, starting with a score by junior Amanda Ignacio off an assist by Leah DiGiandomenico.
The play ignited on a penalty corner pass from sophomore Riley Gentner to senior Ashley Lesniewski.
She patiently steered it to DiGiandomenco and her diagonal drive was redirected in by Ignacio.
“I was so excited we scored on a corner,” coach Mary Gentner said. “We’ve really been working on corners and I think it showed.”
Three minutes later, the Sailors scored the go-head goal on a rare back-handed reverse shot by Leah DiGiandomenico, off a pass from Lesniewski, that started with another penalty corner from Gentner.
“I’ve actually been doing it all season, but my coach doesn’t want me to do it because the refs call it when it gets up in the air,” DiGiandomenico said. “This time it happened to go on the ground and the goalie didn’t move. I guess she didn’t expect it.”
“It was just picture perfect,” coach Gentner said.
Hustle by sophomore forward Lacy Cole on the right side set up more scoring opportunities and DiGiandomenico obliged off an assist by Mary Kate Halligan.
Leading scorer Julianna Shearer (12 goals) scored the final goal with 13:48 remaining.
“They came out hard in the second half and they played to their strengths,” Friends coach Palmer said. “They had several good players with good stick skills and they transferred the ball up well.”
Sailor junior goalie Eve Lukowski was relieved at the sterling defensive effort from defenders Lauren Hiltz, Laura Gretz and Caitlin Carr and midfielders Ignacio, Lesniewski, Gentner and Amanda Donovan.
Last year, Lukowski was in goal when Friends scored the game winner in a 2-1 triumph with under 30 seconds remaining.
“It was a heart breaker,” coach Gentner said.
“I like watching my team score four goals,” Lukowski said. “It makes me feel a little bit better.”
If the first half, when she had all nine of her saves, she wasn’t watching her offense.
She was sprawling, diving and darting out to shut down the angles as Friends peppered the Sailor goal.
“They were coming in quickly and after I saved it we couldn’t clear the ball out quick enough and they were right there to shoot it right back in, but eventually we were able to get it out,” Lukowski said.
Foster, Reed, Lynn Cullen, Nikki Frank, Rebecca Handa, Molly Farrugia and Ellie Pollack all had shots on goal saved by Lukowski in the first half.
“She (Lukowski) just has that instinct,” Gentner said. “She’s got that goalie smarts and knows when to go for the ball and when to stay back.”
Friends goalie Kathleen Butler (11 saves) also had a strong first half when the Sailors were scoreless.
But, she and the Friends defense couldn’t contain the Sailor heat in the second half.
“They were pumped in the first half, but they were on fire in the second half,” Gentner said.
Friends first-year coach Palmer hopes her team got a lesson from the second half and recovers in time for a non-league game with North Harford on Saturday, before facing another tough league foe, Park, on Monday (Oct. 8).
“I really think they are going to learn from it,” Palmer said. “I think it was a wakeup call.”