While zooming out to an undefeated start to the season, the Christ Presbyterian Academy girls soccer team has proven that it can handle success.
Now, after what unfolded on Tuesday night, the Lady Lions know they can handle adversity, too.
Operating without a couple of key players and facing a deficit on the scoreboard for the first time this season, CPA battled its way to a 2-1 victory over Grace Academy Christian in a high-intensity district contest on GCA’s home field.
CPA (7-0, 4-0), the defending state champions, trailed 1-0 at the half, but the visiting Lady Lions scored two goals in the span of about three minutes — the first coming from freshman Ella Kate Bevins in the 56th minute, followed by another by Caroline Betts in the 58th — to move in front. The CPA defense did the rest, holding GCA (2-2, 1-1) scoreless and preserving the win.
“This was a great test for us,” said Betts, the sophomore scoring machine who recently notched her 100th career goal and now has 17 for the season. “We haven’t had a test like this, and I think it was really important for us — especially as we get later into the season — to be put in a situation like this. I think this really helped us grow as a team, having to come back from being down a goal, and to see that we have the ability to come back when we are behind.”
GCA’s Savannah Phillips provided the lone goal of the first half when she converted a corner kick in the 31st minute. It was the first goal that CPA has allowed this season.
Although GCA didn’t score again the rest of the way, the home-jerseyed Lady Lions still came away from the game knowing that they had gone toe-to-toe with one of the best programs in the state.
“When we played CPA last year, it wasn’t very competitive,” said GCA head coach Brett Armstrong, a former coach at CPA. “So, the biggest thing I wanted our girls to accomplish was to realize that they can play with a team like CPA. And they did that. They battled all the way through. Our girls weren’t intimidated, they hung in there and played some really good soccer.”
CPA earned the victory despite injuries to key players Sylvie Keck, who was hurt early in the first half, and Caroline Moore.
Christ Presbyterian Academy’s Caroline Betts joined an elite club last week after leading th…
“I think when Sylvie got hurt — she is a rock-solid player for us and a team captain — it kind of put us in panic mode a little bit,” said CPA coach Tom Gerlach. “When you lose the foundation of your back line, and then you give up a goal, it’s easy to get frazzled. And I think the girls started freaking out a little bit. And I said, look, this is adversity. Your true character is tested when things don’t go well. And the girls responded.”
CPA’s defense was able to hold GCA star Gabby Jones in check with aggressive pressure throughout the night.
The match featured plenty of outstanding work from the keepers: MC Logan for CPA and Carlie Mason for GCA. They both made clutch plays throughout the game and provided many of the highlights in a contest that had plenty to go around.
“GCA was, by far, the best team we’ve played this season,” said Gerlach, “and we’ve played some really good teams. You could see from the get-go that GCA wanted this one; they came out swinging and they knocked us on the ropes.”
Although neither team kept stats in the game, Armstrong had a ballpark estimate of how many saves Mason recorded.
“She had about a 100 of them,” said Armstrong with a laugh. “They got off a lot of shots.”
Gerlach said he believes his team put a little too much stock in last year’s one-sided affair between the teams.
“We beat them, I believe, by seven goals last season, and I think we came in a little bit overconfident tonight,” Gerlach said. “At halftime, out girls said, this is a pride check for us.”
The Lady Lions responded to the challenge with a well-played second half — including a sprinkling of well-timed offense — to maintain their perfect record.