Northeast Times

Ragdoll soccer continues to fire on all cylinders

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While the St. Hubert soc­cer team con­tin­ues to iron out its early sea­son kinks, one of its chief North­east Philly rivals is soar­ing.

With Monday af­ter­noon’s 2-0 state­ment win on the road over the scuff­ling Bam­bies, the Rag­dolls of Arch­bish­op Ry­an stayed un­beaten at 9-0-1. More im­press­ively, Ry­an Haney’s young team isn’t just win­ning … it’s dom­in­at­ing.

After a 1-1 tie to kick off the sea­son, Ry­an has won nine straight, outscor­ing its op­pon­ents by a stun­ning mark of 44-2. Sopho­more goalie Jazmin Gonzales has re­cor­ded six shutouts between the posts, while a de­fens­ive unit con­sist­ing of a fresh­man, a sopho­more and a ju­ni­or has smothered op­pos­ing of­fenses. Everything has gone Ry­an’s way so far and they have won in every way ima­gin­able, from blo­wouts to tight league de­cisions, all of which has left the team’s head coach very im­pressed.

“We’re get­ting chances and we’re put­ting them in the net,” Haney said. “But really, our de­fense is why we’re here. They keep us in games by not giv­ing up op­por­tun­it­ies and keep­ing play in front of them. They’re really hand­ling their busi­ness right now.”

Against the Bam­bies, the game re­mained sco­re­less un­til about five minutes left in the first half, when Scar­lett Walsh in­ter­cep­ted a ball in the St. Hubert zone and found for­ward Brit­tany Robin­son for a tap-in. In the first 10 minutes of the next half, Ry­an em­ployed some pretty end-to-end passing up the field, where Robin­son ul­ti­mately found Bri­ana Egen­lauf in front, who slid the ball in­to the corner past fresh­man keep­er Emily Jef­frey. From there, the Rag­doll de­fens­ive unit shif­ted in­to nor­mal shut­down mode.

“What I was most happy about was that they didn’t get a ton of chances,” Haney said. “We kept them in front of us and were nev­er play­ing back on our heels. We’d win the ball, then pos­sess it. When you’re up 1-0 and con­trolling the ball like we were, it can seem like it’s 10-0 to the oth­er team. If you con­trol the ball, then they can’t score and we took con­trol of the game.”

The Ry­an win helped deny long­time St. Hubert coach Mick Mc­Groarty his 400th ca­reer vic­tory, at least for the time be­ing. After the game, Haney, spoke glow­ingly of his coach­ing eld­er, say­ing, “The only thing that could have slowed Mick down was if they closed the school. He’s the lead­er of the Cath­ol­ic League from the girls’ side. He’s been there since day one, and he just gets it. He’ll get his mile­stone … I’m just glad it didn’t hap­pen against us.”

Of his goalie’s stingy play, Haney had noth­ing but pos­it­ive things to say.

“She doesn’t make it more dif­fi­cult than it has to be,” Haney said of Gonzales. “She catches crosses, dives on top of balls, you name it. She’s only a sopho­more, and right now she’s play­ing really well. She’s answered the bell and has been very im­press­ive. She’s a big part of our bright fu­ture that’s play­ing out right now in front of us.”

As for the win, Haney said the Rag­dolls can’t dwell on it, es­pe­cially against a Lans­dale Cath­ol­ic squad that Ry­an hasn’t de­feated in three years. (That game was played after the Times went to press.) But he knows a big win over a chief rival can do won­ders for any team.

You can reach at emorrone@bsmphilly.com.

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