Expect another big year from Morgan Druce as Haverford chases a Central League title.
You’ll have to excuse Beth Sandowich if she still has to consult a roster when talking about her Haverford team. It’s been a whirlwind offseason for both her and the Fords.
Former head coach Dana Ramsden, who led Haverford to a runnerup finish in league play, a 12-5 record and a berth in the District One tournament, resigned her post to take a teaching post in New Jersey just a few weeks ago. That move left the Fords scrambling to fill their vacancy with barely enough time to set anything up for the preseason.
But Sandowich, who last year taught Spanish at Haverford while being an assistant coach on the West Deptford High School (N.J.) staff, was officially named the head coach Aug. 9, completing the coach swap between Pennsylvania and the Garden State. Now that the dust has come closer to settling, Sandowich was able to reflect on the position that she’s walked into.
“I came into my interview and I told them that I wasn’t really familiar with the teams around here and that I wasn’t sure who the team to beat was,” Sandowich said. “And they told me right away, ‘we are. We’re the team to beat.’ It’s a great challenge and we’re ready for it. The girls know it. It’s big, but three years at a very successful program give me confidence that I can help this team win.”
The Messiah College alum inherits one of the best teams in the county, and one of the teams that many are banking on having a shot to take over Conestoga for the league crown. Sandowich takes over a team that boasts a tremendous senior class, one that features the likes of two-time All-Delco midfielder Jess McCarthy, midfielder Morgan Druce, and defender Kim Carden. Those three have been given the nod as team captains, and Sandowich is excited about what the talented trio brings to the table.
“Those three have really stepped up in leading the rest of the team both on and off the field,” Sandowich said. “We’ve got a good team, and our positional strengths are the midfield and defense, but our team strength is the ability to play as a team.”
McCarthy is the most accomplished of the three, and she’s one of the most accomplished players in the state. McCarthy, who boasts 34 goals and 20 assists in her past two seasons, was recently named to the U.S. National U19 team and will be the focal point of every one of Haverford’s opponents’ defensive schemes. Despite that, though, Sandowich said that the success away from Haverford doesn’t deter McCarthy’s mindset about playing for the Fords.
“What I admire most about her is that everyone knows her success, but she just plays for Haverford and her teammates,” Sandowich said. “It’s not all about her. She just wants to help the team win.”
And the team will likely win, and win a lot, this year, especially if a player like Druce can continue her momentum from a year ago. Druce was the Fords’ main playmaker a year ago, often setting up others for goals, and she’ll have plenty of chances to do so again this year.
It’s a good thing that Sandowich considers the defense one of her team strengths, because there’s a three-way battle to take over the starting goalie job. The Fords lost last year’s starter, Mia DePlato, to graduation, and senior Olivia Grassi, junior Caroline Russo and sophomore Katie Wyman have all made convincing arguments to earn the starting nod. Sandowich expects to have a better idea as to who the winner might be after a Friday scrimmage with West Chester Henderson.
Carden will be the leader of the defense in front of whomever Sandowich selects as her first starting goalie at Haverford. That suits Sandowich just fine.
“Kim is quiet, but she steps up, she’s strong, and she’s consistent,” Sandowich said. “She’s not flash, but she’s going to come up on the ball and make plays. On defense, you want dependable players, and she’s going to stay composed in hard scenarios.”
Rounding out the back line will be junior Gillian Ross and senior Hannah Beck, both of whom Sandowich expects big things from.
This year has all the right tools to be a special one for Haverford. The Fords will have an eye on avenging their only two shutout losses from a year ago – a 1-0 whitewashing at the hands of Conestoga to determine the league title and a 2-0 upset loss to Avon Grove in the first round of District One play – and there’s little reason to think that many teams will be able to keep them off the scoreboard this year. Think big…really big, for the Fords this year.
- MATT CHANDIK