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Familiar foes shine as Conestoga outlasts O’Hara

PHILADELPHIA >> Cardinal O’Hara junior Makayla Gallen and Conestoga 11th grader Meredith Ross spent 60 minutes trying to help their teams win a PIAA Class AAA field hockey tournament opener in the rain at Benjamin L. Johnston Memorial Stadium Tuesday night.

Gallen had several sharp drives toward goal that sailed wide for the District 12 champion Lions (16-5), while Ross scored a goal in each half to help the Pioneers (20-3) to a 3-2 victory.

Conestoga, District One’s third-place team, will face District One runner-up Downingtown East in a Class AAA quarterfinal contest Saturday while O’Hara’s season, which included another Catholic League championship, came to a close.

After the final whistle, Gallen and Ross stood at midfield smiling and answering questions about their future plans and some things that happened in the past.

“We’re going to practice at WC (Eagles Training Center in Pottstown) now,” Gallen said. “I guess I’ll hear a lot about

O'Hara's Sara Hayes (2) jumps for joy with Kelley Methven (5) after Hayes' goal in a first round PIAA tournament game against Conestoga.

O’Hara’s Sara Hayes (2) jumps for joy with Kelley Methven after Hayes’ goal in a PIAA tournament first-round game against Conestoga.

this game when we get up there.”

“We’ve been teammates since eighth grade,” Ross said, looking at Gallen.

Two weeks ago, Ross scored three goals as Conestoga knocked off Haverford High, 4-1, in a District One tournament contest. A couple of those came on penalty corner drives, including one as the first half expired.

Tuesday night, she took a pass from Casey Allen on ’Stoga’s first corner of the first half and drilled a shot into the corner of the goal cage.

“It’s something we work on so much,” Ross said.

It took O’Hara just one minute and 14 seconds to answer the Conestoga goal. The Lions took advantage of their first penalty corner as junior Emily Qunitas finished a play set up by junior Annemarie Banes.

Conestoga freshman Charlotte DeVries blasted a hard drive from the top of the circle that sailed by O’Hara goalie Jen Ahearn 1:37 after Quintas’ goal, and the Pioneers, who outshot the Lions in the first half, 12-1, went ahead to stay.

Ross got her second goal in the 13th minute of the second half, but O’Hara again bounced right back in one minute and 14 seconds as Sara Hayes scored on the Lions’ first corner play of the half, assisted by Hannah Nihill.

O’Hara continued to push on attack, but senior Allen and sophomore Emma McGillis helped the ’Stoga defense earn a rematch with Downingtown East.

“We always make corners a big part of what we do,” Conestoga coach Megan Smyth said. “(Monday) night we watched videos and talked about some of the things we knew we needed to do better.

“We tried to find out as much as we could about O’Hara, but we just told the girls that they had to go out there and play their game.”

Marie Murphy was disappointed to see her sixth season as Cardinal O’Hara’s head coach come to an end.

“We (got better) during the second half of our season,” Murphy said. “You can’t ask much more than that. We knew we were going up against a good team that was similar to us. We have speedy forwards and they have speedy forwards.

“Our goalie played great. We came back, but we just couldn’t get even with them there at the end. We have a lot of good people coming back next year, which is something for us to look forward to. Everyone gave us a great season this year.”

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