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GIRLS SOCCER: Dominant First Half Leads Westtown to Victory in League Opener vs. Abington Friends

By Josh Abrams (@jabrams1998), 09/22/23, 5:15PM EDT


By: Josh Abrams

Jenkintown, PA - 2023 FSL girls soccer conference play began on Tuesday afternoon, with the Lady Moose of Westtown making the trek to Jenkintown to take on the hosting Kangaroos from Abington Friends School

Both squads were off to rather hot starts to their season coming into this contest, as Westtown won all four of their non-conference games while AFS took care of business in their two matches prior to opening league play. Westtown recorded three of four possible shutouts, while both of AFS’ non-league games resulted in them dominating with two 5-0 shutouts themselves.

The Lady Moose showed they are looking to pick up right where they left off from the 2022 season, which ended in a FSL Championship & PAISAA Final Four appearance.

An explosive first half that included six goals helped Westtown to dominate AFS from start to finish and win the league opener by a score of 7-0. Senior forward Olivia Bley wasted little time getting the visitors on the board; she scored her first of four goals just three minutes into this one.

Clabaugh shot saved by AFS GK Sasha Van Steenburgh (Video/Josh Abrams)

Eliana Powenski shot attempt second half (Video/Josh Abrams)

Showcasing just how great of an all-around player she truly is, Bley spread the wealth around on the second goal for Westtown.

As her younger sister, Camille, was attacking from the left side of the net, she found Olivia at the top of the penalty area. AFS junior defender Mayalondyn Gray met Olivia and made contact as the pass came in, but the elder Bley was able to gain control of the ball and feed it back out to freshman midfielder Noelle Clabaugh. Clabaugh let the ball bounce off her foot, and ripped a shot from about 35 feet away with a left-footed kick that was perfectly placed in the top-left corner, giving WT a 2-0 lead 10 minutes into the game.

In a very short time, their lead would extend to 3-0 thanks to sophomore defender Juliana Del Beato, who tipped in a corner kick from fellow sophomore teammate Brianna Bartsch. Before even reaching 30 minutes into the contest, Olivia Bley notched a hat trick after tallying her second and third goals in the 15th and 28th minutes.

Clabaugh goal in early first half, Assist from Olivia Bley (Video by Josh Abrams for PSD)

Del Beato goal 13 minutes into game extends WT's lead to 3-0 (Video/Josh Abrams)

The scoring did not stop there; the Bley-to-Bley connection (this one Olivia-to-Camille) stretched the Lady Moose’s lead to 6-0 just before the halftime buzzer sounded. The teams reset and came back out for the second half, and was it ever a much-needed 10-minute break for the hosts. 

One more goal from Bley, her fourth of the game, made it 7-0 Westtown early in the second half. The visitors would still get their share of opportunities, but AFS did a much better job of limiting the number of shots within those chances and took some pressure off senior goalkeeper Sasha Van Steenburgh.

Camille Bley gets in the score column, assist from Avani Patton (Video/Josh Abrams)

Olivia Bley scores fourth goal of game, assist from Patton (Video/Josh Abrams)

Even though they did not come away with a goal, AFS junior forward Angela Stevens did all she could to keep the Kangaroos in attack mode as much as possible, forcing multiple corner kicks and providing aggressive play when necessary. 

The halftime break was huge for helping AFS catch their breath and gather themselves, something Gray spoke about after the game.

“I think we took the instructions that our coach (5th year HC Jessica Breuning) had for us at halftime,” said the junior. “And we implemented them well and we corrected (our mistakes), which I think is really important. Even if you’re down, if you’re realizing your mistakes you’ll do your best to correct them.”

Second half corner for AFS - Video by Josh Abrams

Interview with Mayalondyn Gray (#11) and Angela Stevens (#5)

It can be quite difficult to come away with positive observations in a game where your team loses 7-0, but Stevens did not hesitate to recognize the second-half improvements from herself and her teammates. 

“We had some good one-two passes, moving up (and back) as a unit,” the junior forward said. “Pressuring and (being) defensive as a unit, overall I thought that went well.” 

With the win for Westtown, the Lady Moose improve to 5-0 overall and 1-0 in FSL play. AFS falls to 2-1, 0-1 in league play. Both teams await non-conference opponents before continuing against fellow FSL teams on Friday; WT takes on Hill School and AFS against AIM Academy. 

Bley shot attempt second half

Brielle Kazemi shot attempt 2nd half