ASTON >> The Cardinal O’Hara field hockey roster lists junior Molly Grady as a defender.
“I’ve played defense since fifth grade,” Grady said.
In the Catholic League playoff final against third-seeded Bonner-Prendergast at Neumann University Thursday night, Grady scored twice and added an assist in the second half as O’Hara (15-4) earned its second championship in three seasons by claiming a 4-0 decision over Bonner-Prendergast.
Carroll will take on Philadelphia Public League champion Northeast High for the District 12 title at Benjamin Johnston Memorial Stadium in Germantown at 3 p.m. Saturday.
“She’s our new forward,” Lions head coach Marie Murphy said after giving Grady a big hug during their team’s lengthy post-game celebration.
“She’s played defense for us for 2½ years. Four games ago, we moved her up and she’s scored some big goals. It’s
turned into a wonderful change for us.”
Grady said that she’s been given a big assist in more ways than one as she learned to become more involved in the O’Hara attack.
“Everything that happened (Thursday) was because we play as a team,” Grady said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the rest of them out there.
Assistant coach “Alicia (Govannicci) has helped me with so many things, like when to shoot, when to get to the post, and getting rebounds. So much of it is the way we have been working together.”
O’Hara’s defensive unit, which included Julia Boyle, Liz Tosto, Emily Quintas, Catholic League MVP Makayla Gallen and Kelley Methven playing in front of goalie Jen Ahern, kept the Lions going during the first half while the attack was putting things together.
Methven picked up the only goal of the opening half, finishing a play that Quintas got started. B-P goalie Maggie Baldini, who ended up with eight saves, received solid support from Lisa Tomasetti, Kacie Farrell, Kaitlyn Martin, Riley Dolan and Casey Rafferty.
Bonner-Prendergast had a chance to get even in the 13th minute of the second half, but Rafferty missed the mark on a penalty stroke. Less than three minutes later, O’Hara added to its advantage on a goal by Grady, assisted by Gallen, kicking off a three-goal run in just over four minutes.
Gallen’s hard drive made it 3-0, then Grady took control of the ball after a Baldini save on Gallen and knocked in her second goal of the match.
“Her skills have gotten so good,” Gallen said of Grady. “After we got that first goal, I think we knew we were here to win, not just to play not to lose. We wanted to get the (championship) plaque back.
“Alicia’s been such a big help. She really knows what we should be doing.”
Murphy was happy with her second title in six years as head coach.
“It’s good (Govannicci) finally got one,” Murphy said, referring to playoff disappointments her assistant went through as an O’Hara player. “We have good leadership from our (five) seniors. And we’re very excited about having so many good players coming back.”
If O’Hara claims the District 12 crown, it will open play Tuesday in the PIAA Class AAA tournament against the third-place team from District One.
Bonner-Prendergast’s loss put an end to the Pandas’ hopes of taking part in the PIAA Class AA tourney. Archbishop Carroll, which took second in the Catholic League regular-season standings and beat B-P earlier in the season, will represent District 12 in Class AA state competition.
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