Resiliency remains an important part of any successful team’s repertoire. You can have an abundance of talent and skill and still not succeed if you lack the ability to bounce back. Neshaminy girls soccer has shown they possesses all three of these essential qualities this season.
Going into the 2019 campaign the 'Skins boasted thirteen seniors on their roster. The plethora of veteran performers alone spoke of Neshaminy’s depth and experience. Their four captains Gina Sexton, Kristen Curley, Emily Tantala and Alex Zigler exemplify these virtues. All four earned All-League recognition for the 2018 season.
Gina, who was second team all-league, had to decide where to channel her athletic talents. Her older sister Mia was a standout hockey performer for Neshaminy hockey and now performs for Temple. Gina decided to follow a different path. “I actually had to choose between field hockey and soccer and I chose soccer. I started playing soccer for the Langhorne Pearls when I four. I just loved it ever since.”
Gina’s love proved very fundamental. “It provides an everyday challenge and it’s enjoyable. It gives me something to look forward to. It’s also a very fast paced game.”
It did not take Gina long to decide what position suited her skills and personality. “I’ve played every position except defense. My favorite is definitely attacking mid and I’m best at that. Right now, I’m playing at striker because we need more speed up top. When I get the ball, I’ll hold it and let other people come around the ball and then make runs off it.”
Switching to striker reflects Gina’s selfless attitude. As the season unfolded the 'Skins were victimized by a series of unforeseen injuries. She knew she had to adjust to help her team out. “I think we have a good team but we don’t completely have our lineup set because we had so many injuries. It’s been hard. We have had five or six kids out. One girl had an ankle injury. One had a fractured hip. Two had ACL’s.”
The ‘Skins needed to show resiliency or they would not survive in the highly competitive SOL National Division. Gina knew, “It was very hard to adjust because everyone got hurt in the same relative time. We had to try new players out at different positions. Girls from junior varsity were brought up to see what they could do.”
Though physical handicapped by the loses Neshaminy did not lose heart. They currently are in forth place in the league, close behind Council Rock North and South. Pennsbury has a strong hold on first place with an 8-0 mark.
Tellingly, Gina feels their initial encounter with the high-flying Falcons was their best game so far. “The Pennsbury game was key. We had come in with a high degree of intensity. We were all on our A game. We really wanted to win.”
Emily Tantala gave the ‘Skins an early lead when she tallied on an assist from Kelli Kowalik with 11 minutes gone in the contest. Unfortunately for Neshaminy faithful, Pennsbury answered when Rosie Bostian scored twice on penalty kicks. Her second score came in the closing minute of the game.
A week later, on their Senior Night, Neshaminy took on another dangerous foe in Council Rock South. Gina recognized that, “They are a very good team. They have speed up top and they are very technical.”
The Golden Hawks’ Sammy Jones found the back of the Neshaminy net twice in the first half. The 'Skins, however, refused to fold. In Gina’s estimation, “The ball got through our defense and with their speed up top they were able to score and we weren’t able to put the ball in the net. But I feel we had the majority of the possessions up top.”
The 'Skins showed how truly resilient they can be when they battled both the rain and a determined foe in the second half. “The coaches told us to let the last 40 minutes go. There is nothing we can do about that. What we can do is keep fighting for the next 40 minutes. Half way through the second half we put three people up top instead of two.”
Despite numerous assaults on the Golden Hawk goal, Neshaminy could not produce a goal and suffered a 2-0 loss. Two days later they rectified this scoring deficit when they beat Harry Truman by an 8-0 margin.
With five games left on the regular season schedule and nearly working at full strength, Neshaminy could make a definite mark on the league standing. They have shown they have that all-important resiliency.