Cardinal Spellman forward Jacinta Addo’-Badu has played enough rivalry games against Preston to understand to can’t lose them if you want to show your face at school the next day.
“When you say Spellman is playing Preston it is kind of a big deal,” the junior said. “If you should lose and go back to school with a loss, that’s bad for us. We kind of didn’t want that.”
Addo’-Badu ensured she and her teammates can hold their heads up high. Her 66th minute goal off a cross from Rebecca D’Aloia was enough to give host Spellman a 2-1 victory over Preston in a CHSAA girls’ soccer crossover game on Sept. 19. The pass was perfectly placed in front of the right post. All Addo’-Badu, Spellman’s leading scorer, had to do was stick out her foot to direct it in.
“Thank you to Rebecca because she did all the work,” she said. “I just basically poached.”
The motivation behind the score was the players wanting to back up coach Mel Brown, who was ejected minutes earlier with a red card for arguing a call.
“It gave us a boost to try harder, to win for him because we want to make him proud” freshman midfielder Nichole Carrillo said. “
Spellman (6-8) needed the score because Preston got even at 1-1 right after the break. Panthers sophomore Lexis Henry connected on a 20-yard free kick from outside the along the left side that she put into opposite bottom corner in the 49th minute.
The Pilots had dominated play up until that point, but first-year Preston coach Mamadou Fofana refocused his team at the break, telling them to improve their communication and pick up its energy on the pitch.
Despite the defeat to a Spellman team that plays in the AA division, Preston (3-8) feels good about its chances in the A playoff. The Panthers have a tie with unbeaten St. Vincent Ferrer, the league leader, and lost to the Pilots 4-0 earlier this month. There is certainly improvement being made.
“We are a little confident,” Fofana said of his young roster. “It’s getting better. From the first day to today it is getting better. We are working. It’s a learning process.”
He noted that his club wasn’t aggressive in the first half and not man marking properly. It allowed Carrillo space to shoot from 30 yards out after a feed from D’Aloia. She didn’t miss her chance, booting the ball in the lower left corner to make it 1-0 in the 23rd minute.
Brown moved Carrillo into the offensive midfield from a more defensive position for this game. She made sure it paid off with her second goal of the year.
“The way I want the position to be played is how she is playing,” Brown said. “She is always at that crucial point where the ball has to come back for her to take a shot.”
Spellman is looking to build some momentum heading into the postseason. The group has raised its level of play to meet competition in the newly formed intersectional AAA division.
“The new division is pretty tough,” Addo’-Badu said. “It’s pushed us to work harder.”