Olivia Breander-Carr wasn’t quite at full speed last fall for the Hun School girls’ soccer team after suffering an ACL injury in 2010.
This season, though, the junior midfielder/defender is feeling 100 percent and she gave ample evidence of that last week as Hun battled Episcopal Academy (Pa.) to a 2-2 tie.
Alternating between midfield and defense, Breander-Carr was all over the field, getting loose balls and displaying her sharp ball skills. Breander-Carr’s hustle paid off as she scored midway through the first half to give Hun a 2-1 lead in the September 25 contest.
While the tally wasn’t one for the highlight reel as Breander-Carr bounced in her own rebound, she was proud of her effort.
“That was probably the ugliest goal I have ever scored,” said Breander-Carr with a grin. “I worked really hard for that; it wasn’t pretty but I will take it.”
Breander-Carr enjoys working from different spots on the field. “I like playing everywhere; I do play defense for my club team,” said Breander-Carr. “I can play anywhere coach needs me to play; anywhere to help the team.”
In Breander-Carr’s view, the Raiders played well as a team in the tie with Episcopal which saw Hun rally from an early 1-0 deficit and then controlled possession after the Churchmen tied the game 10 minutes into the second half.
“I thought we played pretty well; we are getting a lot better with getting the intensity up toward the game when we really need it,” said Breander-Carr, who scored another goal last Thursday as the Raiders tied East Brunswick 1-1 to move to 2-1-3 on the season.
“I thought we were swinging around the back pretty well and we were connecting in the middle of the field.”
Hun head coach Ken Stevenson liked the way his team showed intensity after falling behind early against Episcopal.
“We have been talking about playing as a team from day one of preseason; maintaining possession and stringing passes together,” said Stevenson.
“When we do that, we play at a pretty high level. When we get frustrated and we get away from it, things fall apart. They are a very strong team. It was nice to see us respond after we gave up a goal early and to come back in pretty short order and get one.”
Having Breander-Carr at full strength is nice for Hun. “It was good to finally see her have a really complete game where she got forward and back,” asserted Stevenson.
“She won loose balls. She followed up on her own shot to score that goal. That pressure has been building and building and so for her to really have a complete game at a time when we are against a good opponent was great timing on her part.”
Sophomore Erica Dwyer also had a good game for the Raiders, scoring their first goal and playing some tough defense.
“Dwyer can cross the ball nicely and she is a tenacious defender,” added Stevenson.
“She moves her feet well; she understands positioning. She understands where to be on the field. She has been one of the most pleasant upsides of the team this year.”
Another upside for Hun has been the consistent effort it has been getting up front from senior forwards and co-captains Angelica “Bama” Tabares and Danielle Beal.
“It is frustrating for Bama because I have asked her to take on some defensive responsibilities which we need and it limits her touches,” said Stevenson.
“So it adds the pressure when she does get those touches to follow through and convert them. She can make the ball dance and then hit it with both feet. She takes our set pieces. Beal is fast and she creates those opportunities where she plays the ball into space and then runs onto it. There are those times when we really need to get numbers forward. Her playing as a target forward has worked reasonably well so far.”
Stevenson is proud of the way his squad has come back from a 5-0 opening day defeat at Montgomery as it beat George 2-0, tied Princeton Day School 3-3, and then edged Germantown Academy 2-1 before facing Episcopal.
“It would have been very easy for panic and frustration to set in after we lost to Montgomery,” said Stevenson, whose team plays at Springside Academy (Pa.) on October 4 before hosting Blair Academy on October 6.
“George was a good win. PDS was, as it always is, a hard fought battle. To have a nice win against Germantown; that was a game that we started to prove to ourselves that we can play this at a high level against some really quality teams. To play well against these guys is equally satisfying. That game could have gone either way at the end. It was a good battle.”
Breander-Carr, for her part, believes that the Raiders have raised the level of their game.
“We are definitely moving in the right direction,” maintained Breander-Carr. “We started off a little slow in preseason; we had a lot of injuries. I think we are coming back out from that now. I think we are getting our groove together. We are meshing and we are starting to feel how each other play a little more.”