Central Bucks South may have gotten off to a slow start but boy, these Titans are proving to be mighty powerful on the pitch, of late.
CB South moved up three more spots in the District One 4A Power Rankings after deadlocking 14th-ranked Council Rock North 1-1 Oct. 10 on the Indians’ home court.
Senior co-captain Lauren Farrell came through with the equalizer near the end of the second half.
“This team likes to come from behind,” admitted Titans head coach Betsy Bullock.
A few days earlier, CB South took top-ranked and unbeaten Pennridge to overtime and had the Rams trapped in a scoreless game in the final moments. Only an unstoppable shot by Rams sophomore Leah Malone with three ticks of the clock remaining kept Pennridge – a state finalist last year – in the win column for the 15th time this season.
“The girl just hit a beautiful shot – nobody could have saved it,” said Bullock. “We wound up losing but it was a really strong effort by my team. I was very proud of them.”
The biggest comeback by the Titans this season – and perhaps in the team’s 15-year existence – was South’s 4-3 victory over sister school CB East on Oct. 2. Trailing the Patriots 3-0 with 14 minutes left, Farrell jump-started the rally, putting home a corner kick by junior Aly Cutter. With nine minutes left, senior Grace Tecce fed junior Janessa Watson to cut the deficit to one and Farrell knotted the score in the 78th minute.
With only seconds remaining, senior Sophia Kane poked in the game-winner, capping off the initial shot taken by Farrell.
“I’ve coached soccer for 28 years at all different levels and I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Bullock. “It was the biggest comeback I’ve ever seen.”
Two days later, the Titans continued to climb the ranks, topping defending state champion Souderton 1-0 on an unbelievable shot by freshman forward Ksenia Semenovykh. With no score on the board, the ninth-grader launched a shot from 30 yards out that ricocheted off the crossbar and into the back of the net, giving CB South its fifth win of the season.
“She buried a ball from well outside the box,” said Bullock. “It was beautiful.”
State finalists in 2016, the Titans, currently 5-9-2 overall, are still trying to establish their identity after waving goodbye to midfielders Mackenzie Edwards (Pittsburgh) and Brooke Steigerwalt (Tampa) along with defender Izzy Manzella (Wagner), all of whom graduated last spring.
CB South has a pair of goalkeepers minding the nets this year in senior Shannon Snyder along with freshman Kristen Conway.
“Kristen is taller than Shannon so I kind of gauge who we’re playing – their style of play and go from there,” said Bullock.
The duo split duties, combining on a shutout in the big win over Souderton on Oct. 4. Snyder went the whole way Oct. 7 vs. Pennridge.
Defensive help has come from seniors Lauren Ewell and Lauren Spear, along with junior Bridget Curtis and sophomore Emalee Day.
The competition is tough this year, says Bullock.
“Our schedule is – bar none – one of the most difficult,” stated Bullock. “We have the Suburban One Continental League where you have North Penn, CB West, which is very good this year, Pennridge and Souderton.
“Our non-league games have been Pennsbury, Council Rock North. We really don’t have an easy game on our schedule.”
Central Bucks South battled Villa Maria to a 1-1 tie Saturday and fell to North Penn 2-0 Tuesday. Remaining on the Titans’ 2019 slate are non-league rival Villa Joseph Marie along with SOL Continental rival CB West. The Bucks topped the Titans 4-0 the first time out.
“Every single game we play from here is important,” said Bullock. “We need some big wins through the remainder of the season.”
Three years ago, CB South toppled West Chester Henderson and No. 2 seed Pennsbury in districts then got past tough District Three rivals Hempfield and Manheim Township in states, falling only to eventual PIAA champion Canon-McMillan in overtime.
If the Titans continue to battle it out on the pitch, they very well could be in the District One playoff mix, and perhaps beyond.
“I know from coaching the state (finalist) team (in 2016), we were the runners-up but we didn’t have the most stellar record in the district. But because our district and our schedule is so hard, once we advanced into the playoffs, we started to do much better.”
With only five returning starters, this year has been a bit of a rebuilding season at CB South. Bullock says she talked at length with her players about playing with emotion, rather than allowing emotions on the field to rule the day.
“In the beginning of the season we’d be on a high but then we’d fall apart.
“Now, they feel confident – they feel like they can play with heart.”
“We are becoming more and more cohesive and settling into a better rhythm with possession and we’re making better decisions, tactically.”
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