There are not many better ways to open a season than beating a conference champion. While it was a non-conference contest, Souderton opened its 2014 campaign with a come-from-behind win over Suburban One American title-holder Upper Dublin.
Souderton erased a four-goal deficit by scoring seven goals in the second half in an 11-9 win over the Lady Cardinals. Upper Dublin was the better team through 25 minutes, but the Indians came out firing after halftime and not only controlled the tempo, but scored seven goals while allowing just two.
"I couldn't be happier with how the girls played, especially in the second half,' Souderton coach Kelly Kelly said. "I know how good Upper Dublin is and we always knew they would be tough to beat. It's a very good start to the season.'
Upper Dublin came out strong, as expected, but never completely ran away from Souderton in the first half. Taylor D'Ginto, Rachel Difrangia and Elizabeth Barba all tallied within the first six minutes to give the Lady Cardinals a quick 3-0 advantage. Souderton's resiliency started there, however, as Amber Lambeth and Natalie Buliger cut the deficit to one soon after.
"I think it was a really physical game,' Upper Dublin coach Dee Cross said. "But I thought we played really well in the first half. We controlled the game in the first, but we lost our cool in the second.'
That's when Julie Cross took over for Upper Dublin. She recorded a hat trick, her only three goals of the game, within a three-minute period to give her team some breathing room. Souderton got a goal from Rachel Judge after the ensuing faceoff, and then D'Ginto and Buliger traded goals at the end of the half. While it wasn't a commanding lead, the Lady Cardinals looked pretty good heading into the second half.
But they were anything but good.
Most of that has to do with the fantastic half of lacrosse that Souderton played, though. The Indians established early on that they were going to apply copious amounts of pressure on defense and be fearless on offense. Lambeth set the tone, scoring four minutes into the half. D'Ginto completed her hat trick to keep the three-goal lead a minute later, but that would basically be it for the visitors.
"When we went into halftime, we talked about how we were not playing our game and how they were getting us to play theirs,' Kelly said. "We usually play a little bit more high speed. We changed it around and brought that back in the second half and I think that really adjusted our game.'
The Indians went on to score three unanswered goals, one each by Buliger, Judge and Ally Sonn, to knot the game at 8-8. With 8:33 remaining in the game, Chessie Rehmer scored Souderton's ninth goal of the contest and gave her team its first lead of the afternoon. The Indians were simply out-hustling their opponents and making them pay for it.
"Our motto this season has been work ethic, work ethic, work ethic,' Kelly said. "That first half did not reflect that and I told them that if they are going to stay by that motto, they need to show it. I think that kind of got to them a little bit and they definitely stepped up.'
Even with the offensive prowess shown by Souderton in the second half, the win would not have been possible if not for goalie Kelly Williams. She recorded nine saves in all, the majority of which were either spectacular in execution or simply at big moments in the game. When Souderton needed a big stop, Williams was always good for it.
"Our mentality was really just that we want to win this year and this was our first game, so we came out at 100 percent,' Williams said. "We beat them last year, so we knew some of their weaknesses. We wanted to start the season strong and let everyone know that Souderton is going to be tough this year.'
However, Upper Dublin is always in a game, especially when within just one goal. Difrangia caught a pass from Cross and buried it past Williams with 8:09 remaining to knot the game once again. Still, you just got the feeling in the second half that Souderton would eventually get the result.
And get it, they did. A minute after Upper Dublin tied the game, Nikki Palmer muscled her way to the cage and put the ball between the keeper's legs to give the Indians the lead back. A couple of minutes later, Rehmer notched her second goal of the game and gave her side the two-goal lead that they would not relinquish.
It was a great way to start the season for Souderton, but Cross was bitterly disappointed in how the Lady Cardinals played.
"We just got physically pushed around,' Cross said. "We need to be more mentally tough and take care of the ball. I think we had a lot of unforced errors in the second half. We never gave up, obviously they are a good team, but we just have some things to work on and go from there.'