HAVERFORD >> In their four years together, the Monsignor Bonner & Archbishop Prendergast field hockey seniors and coach Joanne Dolan experienced their share of highs and lows.
The Pandas’ 4-0 loss to Merion Mercy in a PIAA Class 2A quarterfinal at Haverford High’s A.G. Cornog Stadium Saturday morning will go down as the last of the lows.
Before that, though, there were plenty of “milestones,” as Dolan called the many accomplishments she and the nine seniors who wore a Pandas uniform for the final time Saturday had the opportunity to share.
“Making the state tournament and being the last (Philadelphia Catholic League) team left playing,” Dolan said, beginning to list what she will remember. “Watching them grow as players and seeing how they were always together as a team.
“Our object was to help build the program and they have done that. Our junior and freshman classes are strong, so I hope they will want to carry on what our seniors have put together. Our girls just got upset and didn’t have the right mind-set when some of the calls went against them today, and Merion Mercy never gave up. I just wish things could have come out a little differently than they did.”
The game statistics were tilted heavily in District 1 champion Merion Mercy’s favor. The Golden Bears (19-4) outshot the District 12 champ Pandas, 24-2, and had 15 penalty corners to Bonner & Prendergast’s four. Sophomore goalie Chelsea Rafferty kept B&P in the game in the opening half, making eight saves, including turning away a penalty stroke in the seventh minute of play.
Riley Dolan, Kyle Dougherty, Allison Martin and Meghan Sullivan did some solid work for Bonner & Prendie (14-6) in midfield and on the defensive side of the field, while Carly Brosious showed her skills and ability to advance the ball on the wing while pressuring the Merion defense.
Merion Mercy got on the scoreboard 11 minutes before halftime when Caroline Steller finished off a play started by Margo Carlin. The Golden Bears doubled their advantage five minutes into the second half when Jaime Natale, who is headed to Boston College to play field hockey, dodged several defenders in the circle and drove the ball past Rafferty.
Natale got her second goal less than six minutes later on Merion’s second penalty stroke of the game.
“I was surprised because I usually don’t take penalty strokes,” Natale said.
“We had never played this team before, so we said we’d just try to play our passing game and keep moving the ball around. All season we’ve been playing with three goals — to play with a positive aura, to win the district championship and to win the state championship.”
Gretta Ehret, Merion’s first-year head coach, said her players stuck to doing what had helped them be so successful this fall.
“They are a good team and have talent,” Ehret said of the Pandas. “Today our passing was really good, and we kept pressing forward in transition and got a lot of corners.
“We’re very pleased with this win.”
Merion Mercy will take on Crestwood, a 5-1 winner over West Chester East Saturday morning, in the semifinal round of the state tournament Tuesday. The Bonner & Prendergast players, who had enjoyed the extra practice time they had earned with a 4-0 first-round win over East Pennsboro, will get ready for winter sports.
“I just can’t believe how quickly these four years have gone by,” Riley Dolan said. “We played so hard to get here, and really wanted this game. We did well, but we couldn’t finish when we got to their end of the field. I hope everyone thinks more about what we did to get here instead of what happened in this game.”