PHILADELPHIA >> A week ago, the Monsignor Bonner & Archbishop Prendergast field hockey players didn’t know if they would be taking part in the PIAA Class 2A tournament.
The Pandas had lost to arch-rival Cardinal O’Hara in the semifinal round of the Catholic League playoffs, then had to watch as the Lions took on Archbishop Carroll in the title contest.
O’Hara’s league championship victory not only knocked Carroll out of the playoffs, it also put Bonner & Prendergast in the state tournament field for the first time since 2009.
The District 12 champion Pandas (14-5) made up for lost time at Benjamin L. Johnston Memorial Stadium Tuesday afternoon, firing in four goals in the first 25 minutes of their 4-0 state-tourney opening victory over East Pennsboro (16-6), the fourth seed from District 3.
Bonner & Prendergast will take on District 1 champion Merion Mercy, an 8-1 winner over Gettysburg, District 3’s sixth seed, in a Class 2A quarterfinal contest Saturday.
“We’ve had games where we scored a lot of goals in the first half but didn’t score in the second half,” Pandas head coach Joanne Dolan said. “I think we backed off and played defense because we didn’t want them to score.
“We came into this game not knowing anything about our opponent, so we decided to keep with the game plan we’ve had this year and swing the ball, keep it moving and make good passes. And we wanted our midfielders — Riley Dolan, Allison Martin and Casey Rafferty — to control what we were going to do.”
Rafferty put the ball on goal in the fifth minute of play, and Molly McNulty opened the scoring with the first of her two goals.
“We were making good passes, and we could have even scored more in the first half,” McNulty said. “(On the first goal) the ball came out of the circle, and when it came back in I was able to score.”
Kerri Quinn finished a penalty corner play that Riley Dolan kept alive for the second B&P goal.
“Riley made such a beautiful pass, and I was just in the right place,” Quinn said. “We’ve been excited about playing since we found out we would be going to states.”
Martin added to the Pandas’ lead, assisted by Meghan Sullivan seven minutes before the end of the first half.
“It was the kind of play we practice a lot,” Martin said. “We have a big opportunity playing now, and we want to enjoy it as much as we can.”
McNulty and Dolan joined forces in making the score 4-0 five minutes before the break.
“We came out strong and really worked hard together,” Dolan said. “All season we said we wanted to keep winning and get to states. Now we have some time to work at practice and get ready for our next game.”
Sophomore goalie Chelsea Rafferty turned away six shots, making a sharp stop with her hand pad early in the first half, and got help from the goal post on a first-half penalty stroke to earn the shutout for the Pandas.
“I was happy that they were keeping the ball away from me,” Rafferty said of her defensive teammates.