CLAYMONT – Archmere Academy believed that it did not play up to its ability in the first half of its non-conference girls’ soccer showdown with Saint Mark’s, resulting in a scoreless tie after 40 minutes.
With increased intensity at the start of the second half, the Auks scored twice in the first 20 minutes of the half before holding off a furious Spartan comeback attempt to earn a 2-1 home victory Wednesday afternoon.
“I think we came out slow, and I think we didn’t expect the heat,” Archmere’s Gillian Sweeny. “We talked about it at halftime, and we knew we could outplay them. They outplayed us in the first half, so we knew we had to pick it up.”
In the first half, the Auks (7-0-1) possessed the ball more than St. Mark’s, but it was not consistent possession, as they did not make the passes they needed to maintain possession, allowing the score to remain deadlocked at 0-0.
That changed in the second half as Archmere regained its focus and started to pass better, opening up the field. One of those better passes came from Madison Love, which sprung Sweeny for a breakaway.
Learning from a missed opportunity in a similar scenario in the Auks 0-0 tie with Wilmington Friends last week, Sweeny put the ball in the back of the net to make it 1-0 in the 48th minute.
“The goal that I missed in the Friends game; I have watched the video of it at least six times every day since that game,” Sweeny said. “I knew I could fix what I was doing. I put it on my left foot and tried to put it on the far post. It went in.”
Archmere continued to pressure and added a second goal ten minutes later when Madeline Law’s corner kick bounced off a Spartan defender and into the net to give the Auks a 2-0 lead.
St. Mark’s (5-5) was not discouraged by its deficit and attacked. In the 69th minute, Madison Burnham got the ball, curled around her defender and rocketed a shot past the goalkeeper to make it 2-1.
“They didn’t give up. I mean, it’s easy to quit after getting down two goals. They had a lot of fight in them,” Spartan coach Dan Swasey said. “We didn’t get that last goal, but I’m proud of the way they battled back and fought hard.”
St. Mark’s had a couple of scoring chances in the final ten minutes, including one where a cross led to chaos in front of the net and resulted in the ball nearly crossing the goal line. But Archmere cleared it out to preserve its lead and, eventually, the victory.