ABSECON -- Holy Spirit High School senior Melissa Normant was in good "spirits," so to speak, despite her slight injury on Friday afternoon. Normant, who hails from Galloway Township, said some "slight bruising" kept her out of the match against Wildwood Catholic, but she'll be ready to go next week.
"Coach (Bob) Martin wanted me to get some rest today," Normant said during the first half Friday. "We have important games next week against Oakcrest, Buena and Absegami. I like to see other people get a chance to play."
Normant watched Danielle Peck, a freshman, score the first goal in what ended up being a 6-1 win by the Spartans. If it wasn't for Crusaders goalkeeper Hannah Padrnos' 29 saves (according to her coach, James Davis), Spirit could have put up a dozen or more goals.
Spirit coach Martin was in vocal form on the touchline, trying to will his team to excellence even though they were in control of the game. "Come on Ottavia (Dolci,) you usually kill that ball in practice," he said.
Spirit's Peck is a terrific player. She sees the field well and knows when to switch the ball and change the point of attack. A few times, she led Summer Crilley into space with nice, angled balls. Spirit definitely plays as a unit, but that's taking nothing away from Wildwood Catholic.
Kaci Youschak, in particular, likes to stay vocal and fire up her teammates, and the coach, Davis, stayed positive despite the developments taking place on the field. "The game's not over yet," he shouted to his girls ... even though, for all intents and purposes, it was.
Assistant referee Steve Gold, an old acquaintance of mine from the club soccer scene, even took my good-natured ribbing about the recent form of his team, Tottenham Hotspur, before the game. Gold, an Englishman, could have put me in my place by mentioning that my club, West Ham United, is way below Spurs. But, he took the higher road.
Back to Normant for a moment. She plays her club ball for the South Jersey Elite Banshees, where she's coached by Joe Banks, the former Drexel University standout who played many seasons for the Ocean City PDL team. Even though she was unable to play, her enthusiasm was contagious. With this Spirit team (now 2-0-1, while the Crusaders drop to 0-2), she might have a lot to smile about.