WHITEMARSH >> With an eye towards facing Episcopal Academy in the next round, the Germantown Academy field hockey team played a complete new system against Academy of the New Church in the PAISAA quarterfinals Tuesday.
“Just make sure we have everyone up and back on defense and everything,” GA freshman Sammy Popper said. “Just balance it out.”
The changes had little effect on the Patriots’ scoring touch. Popper and Colleen Carrigan each collected a hat trick as fourth-seeded GA rolled past the visiting No. 5 Lions 7-2 at Oberkircher Field.
“We were really focused on getting a lot of corners, which they did, especially in the second half,” Germantown Academy coach Jackie Connard said. “We actually played a new system today that the girls have never played before, so we had people in different positions, kind of in preparation for our game tomorrow against Episcopal. So, really communicating well over the field and kind of adjusting to the new spots the girls were in.”
Corners led to four goals for GA (16-6), which move on to face Inter-Ac rival Episcopal 3 p.m. Wednesday at the top-seeded Churchwomen’s home field. Episcopal cruised past No. 8 Hill School 8-0 Tuesday.
“We work on (corners) everyday, so we know where we have each other and kind of working on getting in the rebounds and everything and all being there for each other,” Popper said.
Germantown Academy has lost twice the season to EA, the defending PAISAA champ.
“We almost beat them in our first game, we were up 3-2 with like seven minutes left and then we got a yellow card and they scored two goals in the last seven minutes,” Connard said. “But that was the first time they’d been down all season. And our second game we had two injuries, two of our defenders were injured. They ended up winning 7-3, but we matchup pretty well with them so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Academy of the New Church, which won its fourth straight Friends School League title, never kept fighting, but could not keep up the offensive attack of the GA – which built a 4-0 lead on Popper’s second goal at 11:40 in the first half.
“I think that we did really well considering that we’ve had like a two-week break from field hockey, because we ended our season with a championship two weeks ago,” ANC coach Whin Brown-Sylla said. “A lot of days off, so it was kind of hard for the girls to get back in field hockey shape. But I think that did a great job out here.”
Aubrey Asplundh and Susan Scappatura scored for the Lions, while ANC Caitlin Irwin made a number of tough saves to deny Germantown Academy even more goals, including a split save on a hard shot from Popper.
“Our girls are so good about at not worrying about what the score is, they’ll play no matter what the score is,” Brown-Sylla said. “Even if they’re down by four, whatever, five, they’ll still keep playing and really work to get the ball up and score.”
Popper, a member of the U.S. U-19 Women’s National Team, opened the scoring at 25:17 as she took the corner pass from Ali Crump at the top of the circle and blasted a shot into the cage.
Popper played the facilitator on GA’s second tally, cutting through the ANC defense in the circle before finding an open Carrigan at the left post for a goal at 16:47.
Carrigan made it 3-0 at 14:19, putting in a rebound after Shayne Cerebe’s shot deflected off the left post. Popper extended the advantage to four at 11:40 with another impressive run through the circle.
“It’s just practice, I guess,” said Popper of her ability to navigate through tight spaces. “Ever since I was little working on it. I started out with indoor, it obviously helps, the smaller space and everything.”
Academy of the New Church cut the margin to 4-1 with 1:21 left in the first half as Asplundh put a ball in after a shot from Rachel Fink.
But GA regained the four-goal edge at 19:30 in the second half after a corner, with Carli McCrossen giving the ball a final touch over the line.
Popper earned her hat trick on another corner. Carli McCrossen sent a ball to the top of the circle to Carrigan, who passed over to the freshman for a shot past Irwin.
Scappatura’s strike made it 6-2 before Carrigan collected her third strike with a hard shot on a corner.
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