PALMYRA TWP. — Abington Heights’ defense limited Wallenpaupack to two shots, neither of which were on goal, and the Lady Comets blanked the Lady Buckhorns, 3-0, in a key, early-season Lackawanana League Division 2 contest Tuesday.
“The best thing I liked was that our defense won the majority of balls out of the air or stepped in front of their forwards to win the ball, which kept possession on our half of the field most of the game,” Abington Heights head coach Errol Mannick said. “Our midfielders and forwards were also doing a good job of putting pressure on the back side. I thought (sophomore) Anna Marchetta really dominated in the middle of our 4-3-3 formation.”
Abington Heights senior Abby Brown credited the team’s change in defensive strategy for helping them hold down Wallenpaupack’s attack.
“We’re playing a stopper-sweeper formation instead of a flat back four,” Brown said. “I think having a person back, especially Paige (Morgan) with her speed and ability is really helping us out a lot.”
Abington Heights (3-0) outshot Wallenpaupack, 9-1, in the first half and struck for a goal in the 34th minute when sophomore Morghan Stiles headed in a well-placed corner kick from Brown.
“(Abby) is placing the ball exactly where we want her to and Morghan was at the right spot,” Mannick said.
Stiles believes the group is meshing well as they prepare for a difficult stretch of games this week.
“I feel like we’re developing as a team and, due to the fact that so many of us get rotated in, we’re all getting better every single day,” she said.
Wallenpaupack senior goalkeeper Olivia Gregory, who finished with nine saves, made three big stops in the first half.
Brown gave Abington Heights a 2-0 lead with an unassisted goal from 35 yards out in the 48th minute.
The Lady Comets added their final tally in the 57th minute when senior Hannah Kowalski placed a short cross from freshman Riley Mulherin into the net.
“She’s tenacious and has a great cross from the side of the field,” Mannick said of Mulherin. “It’s nice to see them play team soccer.”
Wallenpaupack (2-1) played without Rachael Tirjan, one of its top players, who suffered an eye injury during the team’s previous game on Monday.
“We thought we were prepared for this game, but Abington is a great team and they have weapons all over the field,” Wallenpaupack head coach Alicia Sodano said. “With Rachael not being able to play today, the girls kind of got their heads down but they worked hard and didn’t give up.”