The Oxford versus West Chester East game, selected by fans via an online Game of the Week poll, earned a walloping 62% of the vote in a 4-game contest. And what a contest it was. Phila-area fans made a great choice in choosing this match-up.
The game, hosted by East under the lights, was highly competitive and riveting, and… somewhat unusual. Throughout the game, particularly in the second half, the ball was in each team’s offensive circle more than in the midfield and remained at one end for long stretches before changing possession. There was so much fire inside the 25s and so much intensity; it really lived up to being Game of the Week.
In the end, it was Oxford who rose to the top, winning 3-2 and netting their 3rd goal with 13 minutes remaining — but not without a fight ‘til the final minute from East.
The game kicked off with Oxford showing dominance, securing a shot on goal (Emily Quesenberry) less than a minute in and notching three corners in less than three minutes. WC East, however, capitalized on their first real opportunity with a breakaway goal by Kelly Conlin assisted by Lauren Fredricks at 19:51.
Sensing the change in momentum, Oxford called a time-out but returned to the game against a fired-up East who, for the next six minutes, dominated inside their offensive 30 with intricate passes between Conlin, Lauren Fredricks, sister Nicole Fredericks and Maggie Gallagher. Oxford’s defense, anchored by goalkeeper Sam Bartos and defensive standouts Mary Cate London and Abby Rush, kept East at bay despite numerous opportunities right in front of the cage.
“I thought we played strong passing-wise, finding in-and-out passes. Oxford really did well packing it in and we just have to work on finishing,” Lauren Fredricks said. Her sister Nicole concurred: “We were just really struggling to finish but our intensity was there; we never let up.”
Finally breaking away from their defensive circle at 11:52, Oxford answered with a goal by Sarah Johnson, unassisted (11:10). The powerful forward smacked a hard-hitting reverse at the very top of the circle; you could hear the board from high up in the stands.
The third goal of the first half came at 7:28 for East. A long pass from Gallagher to a composed Lauren Fredricks who took a second to look up, find the perfect angle and fire past Oxford’s Bartos.
The half ended with East up, 2-1, and dominating in possession time.
That was certainly not the case in the beginning of the second half. Oxford’s Coach Anderson must have given a huge pep talk at halftime, as the Hornets swarmed the field and maintained possession for the first six minutes, mostly inside their 25, with players firing shots left and right including two that crossed the goal line but were called back because they were just outside the circle. East’s first possession inside their 50 was at 19:07.
Oxford’s Johnson struck again, tying it up with a bullet shot off a comer at 15:20, assisted by Rachel Hannum. Less than 2 minutes later, at 13:43, Hannum notched the game-winner, assisted by Reese Canaday after a stellar passing combination from the 45.
“We came in with a winning mentality and knew that we could handle anything that happened,” said Johnson. We’ve been working so hard as a team to get where we are now; it took some time but we’re here and plan on improving even more with every game! Props to WC East for being a strong team that never let up.”
For the final 12 minutes of the game, it was nearly all East inside their 30 but they just couldn’t get it in the goal. The Vikings created numerous runs with their fast passes and quick feet, misfired shots, and pressure in front of the goalie. But, a tenacious Oxford defense would not allow it. Oxford pulled out the win in a tight match that would make Phila-area fans proud of their Game of the Week pick.
“It was an exciting win for Oxford,” shared London. “We had tremendous fan support which helped push us through!”
WC East Coach Taylor Shronk noted: “Overall, we did well with passing sequences and on defense, we can really see an improvement since the beginning of the season. Our intensity has been great and this won’t slow us down. Oxford came out aggressive and had two girls on us when we had the ball, which worked for them. It was a high-intensity game for both teams and made for a great game.”
Oxford Coach Anderson agreed, particularly for their squad who plays on a grass field. “We haven’t won a game on turf this year and it’s been a real struggle for us mentally but we said we were going to prove it to ourselves tonight that we could do it. Our goals were to force corners and really pressure them on D and we did both. It was a great win for us!”
Oxford: 8 comers, 4 shots on goal, 6 GK saves
West Chester East: 6 corners, 8 shots on goal, 8 GK saves
Photos by Tommy Meehan, Photos from the Sidelines. Photos available for purchase. Click on photos to enlarge.
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