Women’s soccer: Stowell’s second hat-trick propels Timber Creek to kick-off crown (PHOTOS)

Ava Stowell scored a club-record six goals for Timber Creek last season. Just two games into the 2022 season, she has already tied that total.

The junior striker scored three goals – her second hat trick in as many games – to lead the Chargers to a 5-3 win over hosts Deptford in Saturday’s Spartan Kickoff Classic final at Joe Corbi & Jim Hawkins Spartan Stadium in Deptford.

On a hot, sunny afternoon, Timber Creek dominated in time of possession and shots on goal, but had to recover twice from a one-goal deficit to claim the victory.

Senior Hailey Thaler scored the game-winning goal with 11:10 remaining, hitting a rebound after her initial shot was saved to give the Chargers a 4-3 lead. Stowell completed his hat trick with an insurance goal with just over a minute to play.

Thaler scored after an early shot from Adia Dickson was saved by Deptford keeper Isabella Norman. Thaler threw a left-footed rebound which Norman also stopped before throwing a second right-footed rebound into the net. (SEE A VIDEO OF THE THALER GAME WINNER BELOW).

“You just have to get those rebounds, follow through and hope for a goal,” Thaler said. “We broke the net today. We came out with a lot of energy and a positive attitude this year and I think that really helps us.

It’s Timber Creek’s first 2-0 start to the season since 2016, when the team was 13-6 – its last winning season. The Chargers were 4-11-3 a year ago.

“It’s a great way to start the season – I’m so excited to see what’s to come,” Stowell said. “Last year was a bit difficult and this year we are looking for a comeback and hope that we can get back on track and show everyone what we really are.

“Offensively, I think our prospects are bright. We have solid players. There is still work to do, but with these first two games, you can’t really ask for more than that.

With the addition of Washington Township to the Tri-County Conference, the Chargers were transferred from the Royal Big Schools Division to the Liberty Division. With a season-opening 5-0 win over Our Lady of Mercy Academy in the Spartan Kickoff semi-finals on Thursday, followed by victory over Liberty Division foes Deptford, Timber Creek can signal that this is a team to be reckoned with.

“We’re so excited with how the girls handled adversity today,” said Timber Creek assistant coach Jon Kates, who coached the team with fellow assistant Michaella Paradiso in the absence of the team. head coach Phil Falke. “In our scrums and our first game, we haven’t really been put in that situation yet.

“It really is their year to win games. We have a lot of upperclassmen and at halftime today I could see they were a bit sulky and kind of thinking they were going to fall back into what’s been going on for the past few years , but give them all the credit. They did a really good job of bringing out the energy in the second half and did everything we asked them to do.

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Stowell gave the Chargers a 1-0 lead just six minutes into the game when she took a pass from Thaler, broke the left side and slipped a shot between Norman and the left post.

But the Spartans responded with two goals in less than a minute.

First, Charlie Marsteller headed in a Riley Cogan cross to level the game, and Abigail Harding then scored from a direct kick to give Deptford a 2-1 lead.

The Chargers nearly tied the game just before halftime, but Norman managed to deflect a Billie Frazier shot that was supposed to enter the net just below the crossbar. Norman also stopped Rebecca Gordon at close range on an ensuing corner kick just as half-time ended.

Stowell added his second early in the second half to level the score at 2-2, but again the Spartans responded.

Deptford senior Sophia Henry broke free after taking a short pass from Caitlin Reynolds and beating keeper Libby Gallagher for a 3-2 lead, but Timber Creek finished with three unanswered goals.

Karissa Coleman tied the game when she planted a shot over Norman and just under the crossbar from 30 yards out with 17:52 remaining.

Seconds later, Gallagher made the game save, diving to his left to stop a shot from Deptford’s Marsteller on a breakaway. (SEE A VIDEO OF GALLAGHER’S BACKUP BELOW).

“Once we got that equalizer, for me it was our game – the energy was through the roof,” Kates said. “What a save (Gallagher) made by sprawling to his left like that. It was a great photo of their daughter and Libby was fantastic. She came in huge for us there and that probably wins the game.

Thaler scored the winning goal a few minutes later.

In addition to leading in time of possession, the Chargers outshot the Spartans 21-7 and had a 10-3 advantage in corner kicks.

“There were times on the pitch where we met and it wasn’t going well, but at halftime we got up and knew what we had to do,” Stowell said. “This is going to be a big confidence boost for us. Going out with two wins outright is something we haven’t done in a while.

Stowell and the Chargers will look to continue their strong start when they play Triton on Tuesday. She is looking to become the first Timber Creek player to hit double goals since Sarina Jones scored 31 in 2016.

“(Stowell) is a spark of energy,” Kates said. “You could see how the girl flies over there. She’s such a competitor. I have been coaching here for several years and she is one of the fiercest competitors I have ever had.

It was a frustrating finish for Deptford (1-1), who still had a chance to win the game despite the statistical gap.

“We weren’t disappointed with our game, but we were worn down and made mistakes,” said Deptford coach Dana Phillips. “I think we capitalized on our opportunities today. We pushed that with the girls. No matter how much you get you have to make the most of it and we did that, but it’s hard to lose, especially when it’s such a good game.

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