A day after the first official day of spring, Cheltenham and Jenkintown took to the field for their respective season-openers. Cheltenham used a quick start and a big first half to hold off a late push by the Drakes to win the season premiere 13-7.
With solid midfield play out of Allie Liss, Liza Becker and Emily Hawkins, the Panthers jumped out to an 8-0 halftime lead. Cheltenham took advantage of Jenkintown mistakes as passes were missed in the midfield and defensive positions were compromised.
"We worked a lot on our transitioning passing,' Cheltenham coach Mary Dean said. "That was key, we just connected all over the field.'
For Jenkintown the game was tail of two halves. The Drakes opened the second half on a 5-1 run, scoring three consecutive goals in the first three minutes, including a pair by Emma Dorshimer and Avery Shenk separated by only 20 seconds.
"We got our kinks out, got our passing down [and] got good defensive footwork down,' Jenkintown coach Jeanie Ewer said.
Jenkintown won the second half 7-5, with two Panthers goals coming in the final 22 seconds, but the offensive mistakes and defensive break downs suffered in the first half were too much to overcome. Ewer displayed no concerns over the poor play as the team responded nicely and many of the lapses were caused by early season rust.
"No concern, it's the first game working with everybody, just kind of connecting, we lost a lot of seniors last year,' Ewer said. "It's kind of a new team out there, so [we're] learning to work with new people.'
A large part to the Drakes improved second half was the play of Dorshimer and Kourtney Walter. While Dorshimer settled things down in the midfield, Walter took care of the scoring as she netted three of Jenkintown's seven second half goals.
"They definitely played with intensity, they defended, they never gave up on the ball, kept going for it so they really did a good job of getting the team back in the second half,' Ewer said.
While Jenkintown was mounting its second half comeback, Cheltenham experimented with some of its substitutions and showed a balanced scoring attack that it is looking for this season. The Panthers had seven deferent players factor on the score sheet, while Liss and Hawkins chipped in with five and three goals, respectively.
"This is a different year,' Dean said. "We have some transfers that came back from old schools, and we have a handful of really good freshmen and we just have threats all over the field.'
Cheltenham gets the season started the way they would have liked and Dean is pleased with the way her team handled its first taste of live action for the season.
"I think they handled it very well,' Dean said. "I was pleased with how they ran plays and how they worked together as a team, they really had some great connections which I was very happy about.'