The first half of Wednesday’s girls’ soccer game in Olney between No. 4 Spalding and No. 1 Good Counsel looked every bit discombobulated like an early-season matchup.
When a Good Counsel cross came flying toward the Spalding net about 20 minutes in, a Cavaliers player tried to clear it. A few bounces and kicks later, it banged off a Spalding player and rolled unceremoniously into the corner of the net.
A Good Counsel parent in the bleachers processed the chaos first:
“It’s in,” he said matter-of-factly. “Own goal.”
And so it was, a fittingly messy goal in game characterized by disconnect. Good Counsel would add another goal in the second half for a 2-0 win.
“It was ugly,” Good Counsel Coach Jim Bruno said. “. . . we gave the ball away way too easy, made poor decisions, but the last 20 minutes we played some really nice soccer.”
The first half tested each back line’s ability to retreat and recover, as everyone in the middle looked a step passive. Fifty-fifty balls bounced a few more times than normal, and touches aimed at corralling them often sent them a bit too far out of reach.
But while Spalding occasionally worked its way behind the Good Counsel defense, with a direct style of play that sent the ball deep and often, the Falcons’ back line showed the ability to recover. Seniors Kali Amoah and Mandi Wilson found their way to dangerous balls, stepping up or retreating as needed, clearing when possible. That effort took much of the pressure off goalkeeper Chloe LaRochelle, handed the unenviable task of stepping in after the graduation of first-team All-Met goalkeeper Megan Hinz, who now plays at Michigan.
“I feel like our defense is really well organized,” Amoah said. “That’s definitely really helpful. Our back line is relatively old, we all know each other, and we all know how we play.”
The Good Counsel offense, also recalibrating after the loss of standouts Imani Dorsey and Courtney Parr, steadied itself late in the second half. Anchored by senior Maddie Pack in the middle and by target forward Nia Dorsey up top, the Falcons began to find chances. Senior Lexi Andrews converted one of them, finding space 20 yards from the goal and burying a left-footed shot into the near side.
That goal pushed the lead to a convincing two goals in a game that was otherwise unconvincing, though a strong early-season win for Good Counsel, which heads to California for games against two of the country’s top-ranked teams before returning to one of the area’s toughest schedules.
“I’ll walk away from this saying that’s a quality team we played,” Bruno said. “and we came away with that? We’ll take it.”