For the second year in a row, Concordia Prep opened C Conference play in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland against Saint Vincent Pallotti.
But, unlike last year, when host Pallotti lost in overtime, 2-1, this year’s Concordia Prep squad led from start to finish on the way to a 6-1 triumph in Towson.
The host Saints got three goals and an assist from freshman Phoebe Bannon and three assists from sophomore Bevin Russ.
Sophomore Emily Chamish added a goal and assist and sophomores Juliana Carriera and Faith Vernarelli also scored for the winners.
Tahlia Brown-Stangherlin’s unassisted tally in the second half was the lone goal for the Panthers.
The win came two days after the Saints lost 2-1, in overtime, to IAAM B Conference foe Bryn Mawr.
Bannon’s goal in the first half was the first of her varsity career, but she preferred her assist.
“My assist was better then the goals,”Bannon said.
Apparently, Russ likes to feed her teammates as well as all three of her assists came in the first 10 minutes of the second half, two on crosses to Bannon and one that Vernarelli deposited.
“I like it better then goals. I’d much rather assist then score,” said Russ, who had added motivation. “We wanted to win the first game of the conference and we were at home so we wanted to win.”
Concordia Prep coach Megan Christian, who lost only two seniors from last season and has just three seniors on this year’s roster, likes the way her younger players have jelled under the leadership of senior captains Sam and Tori Lassahn.
“Internally, I don’t have to do much motivating,” said Christian, whose Saints went 10-0 during the regular season last year, but lost to Annapolis Area Christian school in the playoff semifinals.
“Our captains, twin sisters Sam and Tori Lassahn, are fantastic.”
Precision passing and strong finishing ability were the keys against Pallotti.
“The big thing is we connected, we talked today, we did a really good job with our passing,” Christian said.
She also felt comfortable giving her starters some rest.
“I think the big thing from last year is understanding that we do have a target on our back, but we do have subs,” Christian said. “That’s a big thing, we’ve definitely grown in size over the past two years that I’ve been here and so we are definitely building a program, finally, instead of just year by year.”
Pallotti coach Maceo Rojas, whose 2018 squad went 5-4-1 during the regular season, but was the only team that scored a goal against eventual IAAM champion Catholic, in a 2-1 playoff loss, made some changes in the second half in an attempt to rally his Panthers (0-1).
“You are down 3-0, you try to go for it and it didn’t work out,” Rojas said. “I told the girls I fully accepted responsibility. I changed up the tactics and it just didn’t work out.”
Rojas saw some familiar faces on the opposing side when his team arrived and knew it would be a challenging opener.
“They definitely are motivated. [No.] 16, Tori Lassahn, and [No.] 18, Sam Lassahn, were their rocks in the back last year and [No.] 5, Madison Hieber, was their attacking threat last year and all three of them are back,” he said. “I think all three of those players made All-Conference last year.”
Brown-Stangherlin is an All-Conference candidate and is elated to be back with the Panthers on the soccer team after playing two years ago, but missing last year after transferring.
“Today, was just to like give me a fresh start and to see where we are at and set some goals from right now and to know where I want us to be at the end of the season,” Brown-Stangherlin said. “We had some mishaps in the midfield and we’ve got to work on that now.”
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Brown-Stangherlin is also a standout basketball player and runs sprints for the outdoor track team. “It’s my senior year and I’m really excited,” she said.