RADNOR — Ellie Rinehart knew Tuesday’s showdown with Garnet Valley would feature two defenses that could make it a low-scoring affair. Rinehart just hoped she and her fellow Radnor backers would spend a little less time showing off that defensive acumen.
When called upon, Radnor did the job. But the fact that it didn’t have to do it as much as its opponent made the ultimate difference.
Thanks to the lion’s share of possession, Radnor claimed a nip-and-tuck 7-6 victory in a Central League game with big ramifications for a District 1 seeding picture, where eight teams entered Tuesday with one loss or fewer. Garnet Valley (11-2, 7-2 Central) is no longer in that group, while Radnor (11-1, 8-1) seals its hold on second place in the standings.
Another pivotal 11: The 11 draw controls, out of 15 chances, claimed by Radnor. With that domination of the ball and the patience to wait for the right moment to use it against a disciplined and talented Garnet Valley defense, Radnor simply wore the Jags down.
“We’ve been practicing getting the ball, moving it quickly so we get (their) defenders down and tired and we keep our momentum up,” Radnor’s Tori DiCarlo said. “It starts with the draw control and going through our plays, being patient, getting it around and waiting for our coaches and executing the plays they tell us to do.”
Garnet Valley midfielder Sydney Pyon just about summed it up: No ball equals a lot of defensive chasing. A lot of defensive chasing equals tired legs, which lead to goals allowed, which lead to the impulse to be too perfect once the ball returned their way.
Against a physical and savvy Radnor defensive group, that’s not a recipe for victory, especially with Garnet Valley trailing the whole way.
“I think that definitely made us a little bit antsy,” Pyon said. “We’re like, we need to get the ball, we need to turn (them) over. And I think that’s what hurt us when we got the ball. We made good stops on defense. I think in general, our backer zone looked good, our man(-to-man), we were stopping them, they were having to hold it for a long time. I think that looked good. But once we got it, we were like, ‘OK, we need to score not, and that didn’t happen.'”
“We know their attackers are going to be super desperate to get the goal when they come down here,” said Rinehart, whose myriad contributions were a huge stick check to deny Maddie Kalish an open look in the last two minutes. “So we have to be super ready.”
DiCarlo typified Radnor’s day in one late sequence. Kalish had just scored to get the game within 6-4 with 4:25 to play. DiCarlo won the ensuing draw, one of four DCs, tied for a game-high with teammate Julie Breedveld. Radnor held the ball for two minutes, then turned it over in the face of GV’s pressing defense.
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