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Girls’ soccer: Joan Fleischman leads Sidwell Friends past National Cathedral

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From her forward position, senior Joan Fleischman could only watch as the National Cathedral girls’ soccer team repeatedly threatened the Sidwell Friends net during Wednesday’s game in the District.

But with enough patience, Fleischman took full advantage of her precious few opportunities, scoring twice to help the No. 5 Quakers to a 3-1 win over the fourth-ranked Eagles. The speedy forward quickly turned a National Cathedral corner kick into a  breakaway goal in the 63rd minute, and the successful counterattack proved to be the game-winning score in the Independent School League AA matchup.

“It’s always frustrating when you kind of get stuck back there and can’t clear it out,” said Fleischman, who also converted a first-half penalty kick. “But we made it work, and I think that’s what counts.”

Fleischman gave Sidwell Friends (4-0) the lead in the 32nd minute, taking advantage of a National Cathedral hand ball in the box, but the Quakers rarely crossed into their scoring zone with possession for most of the second half.

National Cathedral (2-1-1) tied it on a goal by junior Bella Blosser and continued to press for the go-ahead tally. With the Eagles pushed up for a corner kick, Sidwell Friends junior Meg Cunningham emerged from the scrum around the net with the ball and fired a pass to Fleischman.

She burst up the left sideline, outrunning a defender and beat the goalie one-on-one. Four minutes later, Cunningham found junior Olivia Michael open in front of the net for an insurance goal. The Quakers managed just four shots on goal in the game.

“We’re going to find other ways to win,” said Coach Martin Dell, whose squad lost All-Met forward Kara Wilson off last fall’s 13-win team. “The character is strong [with this group.] The energy is strong. If we stay switched on, we can compete with anybody.”

National Cathedral kept the pressure on the Sidwell Friends defense throughout the game, but a unit led by senior sweeper Shannon Phillips kept finding ways to keep the ball out of the net.

While the Eagles only put six shots on goal, they consistently controlled play and also had an apparent goal off a corner kick disallowed early in the second half.

The attack managed plenty more opportunities with 12 corner kicks and a half dozen free kicks around the net. Phillips smartly committed several fouls to stem promising breaks, and National Cathedral never took advantage of the ensuing set pieces.

“A couple of them were dirty, but I had to do it,” said Phillips, a Rutgers commit. “I couldn’t let them past me — whatever it takes.”

Related: River Hill’s Colleen McKenna embraces position switch

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