St. Mary's adjustment topples No. 1 Catholic No. 6 Saints get 1-0 win, A Division championship

Girls soccer

November 07, 1996|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Sophomore Beth Hemminger's third goal of the season, six minutes, 58 seconds into the second half, became "pretty much the most important of my career," and "a necessary adjustment" by Saints' coach Jerry Tobin became a stroke of genius.

Both were critical elements last night at Utz Field, where No. 6 St. Mary's (16-2-1) dethroned top-ranked Catholic (15-2-1) for the Catholic League A-Division crown with a 1-0 victory.

The Saints, champions in 1992 and making their fifth title game appearance in the last eight seasons (all under 11th-year coach Tobin), kept Catholic -- ranked No. 16 nationally -- from adding to its league-leading five crowns. They also shut down top scorer Nicole Brooks (22 goals, nine assists), whose goal in an earlier meeting knocked St. Mary's (then No. 12) from the national rankings.

St. Mary's usual 4-3-3 formation revolves around midfielders Melissa Murphy (nine goals, three assists), Maria Smear (eight, 11) and Erin Coppedge (15, two). It has produced scoring from every starter, even keeper Jen Corradini.

But a broken collarbone sidelined sweeper Tina Fedarcyk five games back, forcing Tobin to juggle his lineup. "We moved Murphy back to stopper, and switched Erin to center halfback, but I promise you, it wasn't a stroke of wisdom or any psychic ability," Tobin said.

But the result was perfect: Murphy and sweeper Kellie Thompson limited Brooks to one shot in each half, while also helping to set the tone offensively.

St. Mary's early pressure resulted in a 9-2 advantage in first-half shots (16-9 for the game) and three corner kicks, but was often foiled by Cubs' keeper Corrine Butcher (13 saves) and defenders Kristen Kane and Beth Frey.

But after getting off the game's first shot, a doorstep header, cradled by Corradini, Brooks was tackled, legitimately, three times. "Regardless of where I'm positioned, I just play soccer, but Kellie did an awesome job on Nicole," said Murphy.

Butcher kept Catholic afloat early. She knocked down a shot from Marianne Gioffre five minutes into the game and one by Coppedge moments later. Near the 20th minute, Butcher also scooped a soft volley from Murphy. Just before halftime, St. Mary's Susan MacWilliams nailed one off the crossbar and down, but Butcher beat St. Mary's to the ball.

Corradini did her job when Catholic outshot the Saints, 3-0, early in the second half, including a snag of Brooks' one-on-one 15-yarder, then Hemminger turned the tide off a mis-kick by sweeper Maria Adams.

"[Kristin] Hagert got it upfield, and [Adams] got a weak touch on it," Hemminger said. "I stepped in front, and the keeper was coming out. I felt [Adams] tugging my shirt, so I shot." Corradini preserved her ninth shutout with seven of nine saves as Catholic pressed.

"We were even in the second half, but they finished one and we didn't," said Jason Dieter, Catholic's co-coach with his father, Jerry.

"As a team we showed a lot of heart," Murphy said, "and as a senior, it's great to go out with a bang."

Seton Keough 4, Mount de Sales 2: Senior striker Sarah Tollick scored all four goals as the Gators (16-2) won the Catholic League B Division Tournament championship for the second time in three years. Tollick scored three of her goals in the second half after a 1-1 halftime tie. Nikki Brown and Johnna Fellows each had an assist for Seton Keough.

Pub Date: 11/07/96

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