By John Knebels
Special to The CS&T

PHILADELPHIA – One adjective perfectly describes what is occurring for the Cardinal Dougherty girls’ soccer team – bittersweet.

In what should be a daily dose of celebratory medicine, the Cardinals are having difficulty enjoying their incredible record because of the recent announcement that Cardinal Dougherty will close its doors effective the end of the academic year.

With most of the regular season finished, the Cardinals are 10-1-1 overall but more importantly are 10-0 in the Catholic League’s Blue spanision. Their latest triumph, a 3-1 win over John W. Hallahan on Oct. 12, had a familiar theme to it.

The Dougherty defense was stellar; junior goaltender Brenna Coll was stingy, and almost all of the offense was provided by superstar senior Mo Hawkins.

The St. Cecelia grad scored all three Dougherty goals. In Dougherty’s previous game, an Oct. 8 win over West Catholic, Hawkins scored her 100th and 101st career goals. Earlier this year, in a 6-2 victory over second-place Archbishop Prendergast, Hawkins set a school record when she scored all six goals.

But Hawkins has had more problems forcing a smile than she’s had scoring.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s not a lot of fun right now,” said Hawkins. “Ever since we found out that we were closing, it just makes us think about it all the time.”

First-year Dougherty coach Paul Metzgar has noticed his players’ collective sagging foreheads. He has attempted to use the sad state of affairs as a motivational tool. He realizes he still has a long way to go with his endeavors, but he fully understands why.

“It’s devastating to go through this,” said Metzgar. “It hurts the whole team. You can see it most in practice.

“It’s bad enough for the seniors, but at least they will have a chance to say goodbye. The toughest part is for the juniors. They don’t know what will happen next. They don’t know where they will end up. They have a lot on their mind besides soccer.”

Metzgar is hopeful that at some point, the Cardinals will break through the emotional malaise and regain their focus. When they do, it might be impossible for any Blue spanision team to a devise a strategy that will slow down the Cardinals.

Hawkins predicts that she and her teammates will heed Metzgar’s advice and use their disappointment as a springboard to post-season success.

“We’ll be okay,” she said. “We’ll try and make the most out of the situation.”