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Archive for November 16, 2022

Nov. 16, 2022 — Drama in the Top 5

This afternoon, three out of our Top 5 teams were involved in playoff field hockey games.

Each of them has their own background, their own stories, and their own results. While they would have a lot do in order to match last Saturday’s nationwide drama, the three ranked teams and their opponents gave it their all.

The mid-afternoon game was the championship game of the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools Athletic Association (PAISAA). And you can’t help bur having a sense of deja vu when it comes to the game. Like last year, the matchup featured No. 5 Pottstown Hill School (Pa.) against Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.), in a game played at The Proving Grounds in Conshohocken, Pa.

Despite the fact that Hill had a win over the Churchwomen already this season, the Blues went into today’s game on a bit of a tear. Since their Oct. 21st loss to No. 4 Cherry Hill Camden Catholic (N.J.), they have outscored their next six opponents by a combined score of 35-2.

Episcopal, the defending PAISAA champions, held Hill down defensively and went into the final minute of play in a 2-2 tie.

But like last year, a goal in the final minute was scored to decide the winner. Only this time, it was Hill’s Opal Sparling scoring with 32 seconds remaining to give Hill the 3-2 win and the program’s first PAISAA title.

About the time that game ended, the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 2 semifinals commenced. In the game, No. 1 Delmar (Del.) zipped out to a 4-0 first-quarter lead. But when you look at the team’s overall production, forget about the number of goals, and focus on the quality.

Maci Bradford, the senior headed to Maryland, hit a backhand shot while falling down in the circle in the 10th minute of play. Two and a half minutes later, Jordyn Hollamon, the sophomore sensation, made a backhander on the move that looked effortless. In the third quarter, Bradford stuck in another reverse shot, then got her hat trick dribbling in on the Wilmington Friends goalie with 3D skill and bunted it over the line. Then, as the half ended, Josie Hollamon, another senior headed to Maryland, got a third rebound off a penalty corner and hit top cheese.

These were the definite highlights of the Wildcats’ 8-0 win, setting up a final with Claymont Archmere Academy (Del.).

While the Wildcats were finishing off the final quarter, the PIAA Class AAA semifinal game between No. 2 Emmaus (Pa.) and West Lawn Wilsom (Pa.) was taking place at Hamburg (Pa.).

Emmaus, like Delmar, has a wealth of attacking talent, from 40-40 Club member Rachel Herbine to classmates Ava Zerfass and Abby Burnett, to junior Melea Weber. The team leads the nation in scoring with more than 200 goals, and did pretty well in its non-league competition this year, coming from two down to beat Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) and beating Gwynedd Valley Gwynedd-Mercy Academy (Pa.) four days later.

As you might expect, from a team with an attacking mentality, Emmaus took the lead early in the second quarter, as Zerfass punched in her 28th of the season. But the Hornets found it tough to get anything more past goalie Catherine Wolf. Five minutes into the second half, Grace Chisholm tied the game.

Now, a word here about Wilson. Their coach, Kim Underwood, has developed some unusually talented defensive players during her tenure — perhaps no more so than her daughter Bryn, who is a goalkeeper for American University. Some of that goalkeeping talent might have rubbed off on Wolf, who made stop after stop against the Emmaus offense.

But in a bit of foreshadowing in the final minutes of play of the third quarter, Wilson hit the post with a shot. The teams fought throughout the fourth quarter until the 60th minute.

On a 16-yard free hit, Wilson escaped the Emmaus press with a deep pass that led to a 2-on-1 which Emmaus goalie Emma Cari cleared. Wilson had some pressure at the perimeter, but the Hornets cleared. Wilson rescued the ball and fed it into the offensive right-wing corner. The next pass found teammate Erika Culp, who then found Candace Horace at the left post for a goal scored with 4.2 seconds on the clock.

Emmaus’ 69 game win streak had ended. In a parallel worthy of what happened earlier today, tonight’s tournament game was the exact same circumstance as the game that resulted in Emmaus’ last lost. In 2019, Wilson beat Emmaus in a game played at Hamburg.

With all of this drama, will they leave some of it for Saturday at the finals?