NEWTOWN SQUARE — As Jordan D’Ambrosio played on one good ankle Saturday, Springfield teammate Belle Mastropietro erred on the side of caution.
D’Ambrosio took a hard fall to the floor, but kept going after Haverford at less than 100 percent. Mastropietro picked up her fourth foul early in the third quarter, even though the officials called for a foul she didn’t commit on two occasions.
For three quarters, it was an agonizing, crummy, day for Springfield’s senior captains.
So, it wasn’t a big surprise the Cougars were involved in another defensive and low-scoring slugfest with Haverford, the second year in a row the teams clashed in the Central League semifinals at Marple Newtown. D’Ambrosio and Mastropietro weren’t in tip-top form, but Springfield came back to win, 33-30, and will take on No. 1 Garnet Valley for the league championship Monday at Harriton.
While Mastropietro was glued to the bench, D’Ambrosio stayed on the floor and scored, as it would turn out, the game-winning basket with 5:50 left on the clock. Fun fact: it was the last field goal made by either Springfield and Haverford.
The rest of the quarter required patience from the players, coaches and fans. Or maybe it was an exhibition in physical endurance. Either way, the action was minimal.
Without D’Ambrosio and with Mastropietro neutralized, sophomores Alexa Abbonizio and Rachel Conran played excellent defense down the stretch, and made key shots, to help the Cougars rally past the Fords.
“We had grit on defense and we really wanted to win,” said Conran, who made a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter and finished with eight points. “We knew we had to get a stop to finish it out, we knew we had to step up.”
Junior guard Alyssa Long and Abbonizio each had a steal in the final seconds. But let’s rewind to immediately following D’Ambrosio’s go-ahead basket to give Springfield a 30-29 edge. Haverford gave the ball away, one of 17 turnovers, which enabled Springfield to take a huge bite out of the clock. For nearly four minutes, the Cougars dribbled and passed, dribbled and passed, dribbled and passed, all while daring Haverford to play up, take a risk or foul.
This, the Cougars insisted, was not something they planned.
“We wanted to get a layup and score,” Abbonizio said.
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