RADNOR — For a split second, Springfield's Emily Verica thought something was seriously wrong.
She went down, got back up and tried playing again, then stopped and grabbed her leg. Clearly, something was up with the senior defenseman.
"I landed on it weird," she said in the cold rain Tuesday afternoon at Radnor High. "We had two ACL tears last year, so I panicked. But, it's fine. It was just like a dead leg or something."
After a minute or two on the sideline, she returned to action. Springfield needed her back out there, protecting goalie Katie Bedard as Radnor rallied in the second half to make what appeared to be an easy victory for the Cougars suddenly interesting.
Verica, bandaged knee and all, headed back out on the turf field and helped Springfield put the finishing touches on an 11-7 win.
"I just wanted to get back out there fast," Verica said.
Defensively, the Cougars bore down in the latter portion of the second half after the host Raiders cut a 10-3 deficit to three with roughly 10 minutes to play. In addition to Verica, the Cougars received solid play in the back from sophomore Noelle Morrissey, who made a key stop and spoiled a prime Radnor scoring chance. The defense shined late for the Cougars, but there's always room for improvement.
"As a unit, we're still working on playing together," Verica said. "I think today was a big test for that, a big game. Radnor is always a tough team to play, but we're really pushing ourselves to be better and taking more risks out there. I thought we did really good today, just talking and making sure everyone was communicating. It's always hard, coming up and playing varsity, especially when you're young. But the new girls we have in there this year have really stepped up."
And that's precisely what top scorers Katie Ryan and Emily Santana did against the Raiders. Ryan registered six goals and Santana, who was clearly the best player on the field in the opening half, added three goals, two assists and a handful of draw control wins. Due in large part to Ryan and Santana's production, Springfield (12-2) was able to jump on Radnor (11-4) and score the first seven goals of regulation.
"It was really important," said Santana, a midfielder-attack. "I think the draw control was the most important part of the game and we got most of them. Getting a couple goals right off the bat was good because it gave us the momentum for the whole game. We controlled the tempo."
In some respects, Tuesday was a must-win for both teams. Maybe not for Central League positioning, as Garnet Valley remains in first place after beating all the top contenders, including Springfield and Radnor, but certainly for District One tournament seeding purposes.
"In the Central League, every team you play is so good," Verica said. "I think we're just working on beating every team as we go and not really looking too far ahead. We have Harriton at the end of the week, so we're looking forward to that challenge against another good team. We're looking forward to playoffs, but we're taking every game as it comes and we're definitely still building our confidence."
Springfield struck a few times with a man advantage in the first half as Radnor didn't crack the scoreboard until Kaelee Helms found the back of the net, snapping seven consecutive goals by the Cougars. Seven players scored one goal each for Radnor — Helms, Sarah Curley (two assists), Megan Massimino, Reilly Masterson, Kate Stanley, Hannah Proctor and Katie Quinn.
"We definitely needed this win as far as being more confident going into Harriton on Friday," Ryan said. "We're really working on moving the ball around fast on offense, really attacking. If we're really moving the ball quick, we're going to get some goals, like we did today in the first half."
Bedard was very solid in the cage and stopped seven shots. Radnor goalie Maddie Lally struggled early, but came through with eight saves to help keep the Raiders within striking distance.
In other Central League action:
Harriton 15, Haverford 3: The Fords' Jess Mellon, Jess Lyons and Tess Horan tallied one goal each in defeat.
Conestoga 18, Ridley 5: The Green Raiders had no answer for '˜Stoga's Scootie Growney (four goals) and Sondra Dickey (three).
In the Del Val League:
Interboro 17, Academy Park 6: Sami Barnett had the hot stick, scoring six times for the visiting Bucs. Rosemarie Reitman got a hat trick and Gabby Lee scored twice for the Knights.
In the Catholic League:
Cardinal O'Hara 17, Little Flower 6: Sam Amicone erupted for five goals and one assist, and Chelsea Fox netted four goals to power the Lions (6-8, 5-2). Gabby Roe added a hat trick and goalie Kerry McCanns made three saves. Terri Shallow and Lauren Granata (one assist) tallied twice.
In the Inter-Ac League:
Agnes Irwin 8, Springside Chestnut Hill 6: Sophomore Hannah Keating led the streaking Owls with five goals and senior captain Bridget Chakey chipped in with a goal and two assists. Agnes Irwin (14-1) won its 11th straight game.
Goalie Haley Andress recorded six saves.
Penn Charter 10, Notre Dame 9: Carolyn Riegel's four-goal effort wasn't enough to prevent the Irish's overtime defeat.
In the Catholic Academies League:
Villa Joseph Marie 20, Sacred Heart 2: Abby McGuckin accounted for both Sacred Heart goals.