Like bookends on their high school field hockey career, nine seniors from the Academy of Notre Dame won the State Title their freshmen year and again yesterday, their senior year. The Irish topped Episcopal Academy 3-2 in overtime of the Pennsylvania State Independent Schools Athletic Association (PAISAA) State Championship game. EA had captured the coveted title the two years in between.
“This was a great game. The best championship you could ask for us and for the spectators too,” a beaming Adele Williams, Notre Dame’s Head Coach said. “Episcopal is a great team and I expected nothing other than a great game. All year, we’ve been saying it’s our time and my seniors were not leaving without a win.”
Notre Dame was led by three senior captains: Quinn Maguire and MaryKate Neff, who combined for all the team’s points, and defender Cami Osborne who was pivotal in the Irish’s transition game.
Maguire had another reason to be excited about the win; her two goals and one assist put her over the 100-mark for season points, although her focus had nothing to do with her personal stats and everything to do with the team win.
“I just have so many emotions right now but most of all that our hard work and our heart paid off,” Maguire said. “We gave it our all and we kept going as hard as we could ‘til the end.”
Both teams played with heart and as the game progressed late into the second half tied-up, with real grit. It was the third meet-up for the two InterAc powerhouses this season with Notre Dame coming out on top in all three contests but not without a fight from EA, in this game especially.
“It was well played up and down the field and both teams had good scoring opportunities, particularly in overtime, and Notre Dame was able to convert,” said EA Head Coach, Gina Buggy. “I am so proud of our girls – the way they fought back, never gave up and pushed a talented Notre Dame squad deep into overtime. It was a great, thrilling game – the quintessential championship contest.”
Throughout the game, Notre Dame and EA pretty well split possession time but Notre Dame created more opportunities inside their circle. The Irish outshot the Churchwomen 11-3 and amassed 18 corners. EA’s stellar defensive corner unit of Genevieve Becker, Katie Crager, Lauren Devletian and Corinne Zanolli, anchored by goalkeeper Bridget Boyle (15 saves), thwarted all of Notre Dame’s corner attempts.
On the flip side, Notre Dame’s defensive unit of Colleen Kearney, Ryan Loftus, Osborne and goalkeeper, Katie Liebskind were a formidable wall to penetrate, often allowing EA zero shots when they entered their circle before pushing the ball back to the Irish. Liebskind is credited with three saves, one of which was critical in overtime.
The first goal of the game came at 11:51 when Maguire, running the baseline, found Neff at the top of the circle who then blasted a hard shot. Sixty-two seconds later, Maguire dodged three players, from the thirty, and fired a hard shot — and goal — from just inside the circle to the opposite post.
Episcopal’s Lexi Fischer netted her first of two goals at 6:58, slipping the ball behind Notre Dame’s goalkeeper, Liebeskind on a pass from Corinne Zanolli. Senior Zanolli was seen everywhere on the field at yesterday’s match-up, taking every free position for EA, often lofting the ball high above numerous players to connect with teammate Maddie Rehak.
Fischer scored the equalizer just 33 seconds into the second half; the far-range shot seemed to catch the Irish off guard and left the crowd at Bryn Mawr College gasping. It was a whole new game, tied up, 2-2.
Overtime kicked in with sunlight fading but intensity mounting. With less than five minutes remaining in overtime, Neff hit the backboard, off a corner insertion, but the would-be goal was called back with Notre Dame receiving a free positon just outside the circle. Neff wasted no time; she passed to D’Anjolelo who shot on goal. Maguire then fielded the small rebound off Boyle’s pads to score. It was 11:20 into OT and Notre Dame had won the PAISAA State Title.
“It was definitely a long one and a very high tempo game,” said Osborne. “We had to dig deep to win this one. I’m really feeling so happy ending my high school career winning and we couldn’t have done it without all of our teammates.”
Neff shared Osborne’s sentiments that it truly was a team win and also special for the seniors who will always remember their last game with the Irish. “We write ‘heart’ and ‘our time’ on our wrists every game. As captains and seniors, we wanted to empower everyone and the words are reminders of the way we play every game, and the way to model our program,” said Neff. “We fulfilled our goal. We finally came out on top again and we did it by never giving up. We did it!”
10:09: ND goal Neff
12:53: ND goal Maguire assisted by Neff
6:58: EA goal Fischer assisted by Corinne Zanolli
29:30: EA goal Fischer
OT 3:40: ND goal Maguire
ND shots on goal: 11
EA shots on goal: 3
ND corners: 18
EA Corners: 9
ND GK, Liebsekind: 3 saves
EA GK, Boyle: 15 saves
Notre Dame record: 19-2-1 overall; 10-0 InterAc
Episcopal record: 13-7-2 overall; 7-2-1 InterAc
Photos by Tommy Meehan, Photos from the Sidelines. Click to enlarge. Photos available for purchase.
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