ROYERSFORD — With her sister playing on the opposing team and her former mentor also pacing the sidelines for the Phoenixville Phantoms, Spring-Ford head coach Jennie Moore relishes the time that she can square off against friendly foes.
Big sister and protÃ©gÃ© emerged victorious as the Rams, led by a hat trick from reigning All-Area Player of the Year Gabby Major, overcame a shaky first half en route to a 3-0 victory in a PAC-10 cross-divisional clash on Senior Recognition Night at Coach McNelly Stadium.
For Phoenixville head coach John Tornetta, seeing his pupil shine was not a surprise.
"Jennie always has them prepared; she's one hell of a coach,' he said. "She does a nice job over there.'
The Rams' preparation was evident as Major struck early. The senior seized control of the game as she took a pass from Savanna Malloy, settled the ball, and then wound and fired a shot that rattled the back of the cage four minutes into the game.
"It's fun coaching against him (Tornetta),' Moore said. "I learned stuff from him that I took away to college and it's fun. We get to catch up before the game and it's nice to see that he's doing a good job with the program.'
As for her sister, Rose Moore; well, she became a problem early on for the Rams. Rose Moore and fellow Phoenixville standout Bailey Quinn paced the play in favor of Phoenixville throughout the first half. The tandem's speed along the perimeter opened up the center of the circle for crossing passes ' setting up numerous corners for the Phantoms.
Numerous is an understatement. The Phantoms accounted for 12 corners in the first half ' eight in the first 11 minutes of the game. However, despite the 12-3 advantage in corners, the Phantoms were stymied by a resilient Rams' defense that blocked numerous shots before it could reach goalkeeper Dante Vagnoni. Their best chance came from a brilliant stick handle from Quinn as she went through one defender before flipping a shot that went above Vagnoni, striking the crossbar and bouncing harmlessly away from danger.
"We had plenty of opportunities; we just couldn't capitalize in the center,' Tornetta said. "Our front line worked hard and tried to put in the cage but it just didn't bounce our way today. "
With her defense facing a heavy attack from the Phantoms, coach Moore made some halftime changes that quickly changed the momentum back into the Rams' hands.
"I know how dangerous (Bailey) can be. But we decided we were going to mark her lane in front of her and behind her and not let her touch the ball in the second half,' Moore said. "Her and my sister were hurting us in the first half. We decided we were going to cover their lanes and play in the middle and not let them get the ball.'
Her strategy worked. Quinn and Rose Moore were effectively shut down in the second half as the Phantoms' possession time slowly waned, making the contest a back-and-forth affair.
That is when the speed and finesse of Major quickly came into play. Major and the Rams' offense were relentless in the second half as they fired away nine shots on goal and tallied eight corners. Their last corner was the most effective as Major took the incoming feed, worked her way around a Phantoms' defender and blasted a shot above a sliding goalkeeper to give the Rams a 2-0 advantage. Major added another goal three minutes later as she took a pass from Malloy and sent a bullet to the bottom right corner of the cage.
"I talked to her and said ' If you can get this shot off a second sooner, that way the defenders aren't going to collapse on you'. She worked on that and she did that tonight,' Moore said. "It made a difference because she got much cleaner shots and it worked well for us.'
With the victory the Rams improved to 4-4 in conference play. Major, coming off a hat trick against Pottstown on Monday, now has hat tricks in the last two of her contests.
The loss does not do any significant damage to the Phantoms as they still remain in second place in the Frontier Division.
"Right now we're in a little downward streak and we've got to climb out of that hole,' Tornetta said. "We've just got to play harder, that's all. Play harder, regroup and come out and play again.'
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