PLYMOUTH TWP. >> The goals first came in bunches, then in waves for the Gwynedd Mercy field hockey team Monday afternoon.
Two strikes in 31 seconds gave the fourth-seeded Monarchs a 2-0 lead at halftime of their District 1-A first round contest with No. 5 Jenkintown at The Proving Grounds. Three goals in 80 seconds after the break pushed the advantage to five. And GMA did not stop putting the ball in the cage until it cruised to a 9-0 victory over the Drakes.
“I feel like it takes a minute for us to kind of get ourselves to work as a team,” Gwynedd Mercy’s Bridget Beck said. “But as soon as we connect our passes then we connect as a team on the field then it all just flows – the goals just go right in.”
Beck collected a pair of goals and added an assists for the Monarchs, who had eight different players register a goal as they advanced to the district semifinals to face top-seeded Dock Mennonite Academy Wednesday.
“The goals are one thing, but the way they played as a team – the passing was beautiful,” Gwynedd Mercy coach Alex McMahon said. “We haven’t connected that well, up and down the field, the whole season. We’re finally coming together at the right moment and even better we’re able to execute after making all those passes, so I was really happy with it.”
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) October 25, 2016
GMA and Dock played a thriller on Oct. 10, Dock coming away with the 6-5 overtime victory in the non-league contest. Winner advances to Friday’s final at Plymouth Whitemarsh while the losing side plays in the third place game.
“We’ve been waiting for this game since the last game,” said McMahon of the rematch with Dock. “We cannot. It’s going to be a huge turnout I’m sure and the girls are pumped and we’ve been wanting to play them for a week-and-a-half now. And we’re excited to see a different result (Wednesday).”
Three teams from District 1 advance to the four-team District 1-12 subregional with three from there qualifying for the PIAA Class A tournament.
“On Wednesday, just like today, we have to come out strong from the very beginning,” Beck said. “We started to come back towards them end with them, I soon as we step on the field, bringing it.”
Hailey Durkin, Alden Boccella and Kate Cusumano each had two assist for Gwynedd Mercy, which outshot Jenkintown 34-0 as the contest was played for the overwhelming majority of the time in the Drakes’ half of the field.
“The more the team’s willing to work for each other, the more we’re moving, the more we’re passing,” McMahon said. “And this team’s really close and they worked really hard all season. And it’s a small group and it makes them work very hard to get open and move the ball as fast as possible and make it easy on their best friends.”
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) October 25, 2016
Courtney Todaro made 24 saves for Jenkintown, which fell in their district playoff opener of the second straight year.
Durkin opened the scoring as the contest neared the midway point of the first half, getting a shot off in a crowd in front of the net for a goal at 16:56. GMA quickly doubled the lead as Beck struck off a Kathryn Catalino assist at 16:25.
“We definitely gained momentum as we got our feet underneath us and we went into a much more offensive formation” McMahon said. “Pretty quickly once we realized ‘Oh there’s opportunities,’ just kept on hitting at the door but we couldn’t break through so we went into a full press and we moved up our center back into an attacking midfield position. We just gave it everything we got until the dam broke wide open and let them run with it.”
The Monarchs struck a little more than five minutes after halftime on a penalty corner as Boccella spun around to put a shot in at 24:47 for a 3-0 lead. Beck added her second quick-strike 30 seconds later off a Boccella assist. Catalino scored thanks to a Cusumano assist 50 seconds after that to put the Monarchs ahead by five.
“It’s really nice to have that comforting numbers on your side,” Beck said. “When the passes (are) connecting you start working as a team, it all kind of just flows together.”
Kaitlin McCauley made it 6-0 GMA at 13:11 while Charlotte Gilmore extending it to 7-0 at 9:23. Emily Pizzirani (6:34) and Lilly Gilmore (1:49) tacked on the final two scores.