A goal scored on a cross by junior forward Laura Irvine, 12 minutes into a traditional rivalry, set the tone for an early season girls’ soccer match in the Philadelphia Public League/District 12 on September 5, 2017. The opponents, Central Lancers and Northeast Vikings, are always two of the top teams in this league.
After the initial goal by Laura Irvine, the game rolled along with strong defense by both teams for 57 minutes before the Lancers of Central finally broke the match open against a tiring Vikings squad. Three scores in the last nine minutes of play accounted for the final of 4-0. Ola Owodunni, a junior, after numerous opportunities from the left wing, broke through at the nine minute mark right in front of the goal and beat sophomore keeper Tamara Jenkins. She was quickly followed for goal number three by senior forward Emily Lorenc, who scored from about 25 yards away with a strong right footed stinger. The final goal was scored by Irvine for her second of the match on a second chance opportunity.
Central and the Franklin Towne Charter Coyotes have between them won the last 15 league titles, and both look poised to be right in that exalted territory once again. Northeast, which is being led by second year coach Dan Psoras, is always in the mix but has fallen short all of those long years. NE is now 0-2, having lost to FTC 5-0 in the first game of the year.
Very strong sweeper work was consistently demonstrated by Ashiek Sewell of Northeast, who was called on again and again to challenge drives by the well coordinated attacks of Central forwards Owodunni, Irvine, Grace DelVecchio, Krista Walicki and Azure Lintulahti. Starting keeper Tamara Jenkins of Northeast showed athleticism and, for the most part, good decision making. She is backed up by junior Tymaine (pronounced Tom-ah-nae) Brown, who will split time during the season.
Other players who might help the Vikings as the season wears on are newcomer sophomore forward Juliana Oliveila (who just arrived from Brazil), sophomore defender Marita Nothacker, senior defender Marta Marin and junior midfielder Sienna Doherty.
Northeast needs to be more aggressive overall and work on basic fundamentals such as challenging on 50/50 balls, not forcing attacks through the middle and stronger throw in work. Quicker takes on those throw-ins and free kicks would also be to their benefit.
Central’s starting goal keeper Amber Dilks, a senior with game experience as a 4 year starter, was not challenged much during the game. She should be a strong element in an overall well balanced Lancer squad for head coach Richard Johns. Some of the Central girls play year round for the Fairmount Falcons, clearly to the benefit of the school team. Other players expected to contribute are sophomore forward Zoe Moosbruggar, junior defender Krysta Walicki and Taylor Viz, a junior midfielder. Central lost top player Djavon Dupree to graduation. She will be playing for Temple University and is expected to be a significant contributor to the Owls, certainly a feather in the cap of the Central coaching staff.
Coach Johns is hoping to have his girls repeat as Public League Champions. He has a team that is 19-20, deep with nine seniors who are mostly starters. The Lancers beat FTC in 2016 after the Coyotes had won four in a row. Prior to that, Central had won ten in a row. Central also won the City/Dist 12 Championship over the St. Hubert Bambies, but fell in the States to a powerful CB South team from District 1. South had eight corners in the first half alone and just had too much firepower. Philadelphia Public League teams have a way to go against the high skill level in some of the suburban leagues that compete in District 1 and elsewhere.
In the Philly Pub, the top seven teams get automatic berths in the playoffs with a bye for the first two. Both Central and NE are aiming to improve as the season goes along, and finish strong.
Photo Credit: Jack Kapp