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Villa Maria continues dominant path through PIAA-2A field hockey tourney

REFTON >> It isn’t supposed to be this easy. The Villa Maria field hockey team isn’t merely winning games in the state tournament. They are totally dismantling the opposition.

Mary Harkins shoots

Tuesday night at Exeter High School, in the state semi-finals against Twin Valley, the District 3 runner-up, it was 4-0 by halftime, and then the Hurricanes coasted to a 5-0 shutout to advance to the state championship game for the fifth time in the past seven years, and the third in the four years with coach Daan Polders at the helm.

The Hurricanes will square off against Wyoming Valley West, the District 2 champion, and a 1-0 upset winner over Donegal, who came in to the contest ranked No. 3 in the country.

“It’s always fun to play in a state final,” said Polders. “And this was a nice win with five different players scoring the goals. We were really motivated and wanted to take ownership of this game. I think the girls played really well.”

It didn’t take the Hurricanes long to get going. Forty-five seconds into the game they had already forced their first penalty corner, and a little over a minute later they were on the board when Emily Doyle sent a pass forward to Adriana Yacovelli, and the sophomore banged it off the back of the cage for a 1-0 lead.

“That’s what we wanted to do from the start was to come out harder than they did,” said Doyle. “You saw that right away when you saw the first play. Scoring that way set the tone for the rest of the game.”

Two minutes later, Villa was knocking on the door again, forcing another corner. This time, Villa put the ball in play on the insert to Lindsay Dickinson. Dickinson passed to Adele Iacobucci, who hit a rocket of a reverse shot for the score.

Adele Iacobucci

“This is a team we’ve seen before, and they beat us in state finals so we had respect for them,” said Iacobucci. “We came into it prepared to play, and we executed, but I was a little surprised we got out so quickly on them.”

The Hurricanes converted another corner at the 18-minute mark, with Dickinson assisting on a Mary Harkins goal, then bumped the lead to 4-0 just before the half. Iacobucci took the ball at the top of the circle on a corner, then passed forward to Doyle, who lifted an arching shot over the Twin Valley goalie and into the back netting.

“It was kind of an accident, honestly,” said Doyle. “I saw Adele looking at me and I just tried to put my stick on it and it went in.”

At the end of the first half, Twin Valley had barely crossed midfield, and were being out-cornered 11-1. They wouldn’t be in state semi-finals, though, if they would pack it in because of a deficit, and started attacking inside the circle. But goalie Dani Acuna and the rest of the defensive unit were up to the task, and preserved the shutout.

“It can be tough for a goalie when you don’t see a whole lot of action,” said Polders. “But we try to give her as much work in practice as we can, and Dani is self-motivated enough that she is going to come through when needed.”

Hannah Miller shoots

Villa tacked on one more goal late, with yet another player, Hannah Miller, credited with a score.

“We all try to make sure we don’t hold on to the ball long, and pass it off to a teammate,” said Iacobucci, a University of Virginia commit. “We work it around to everyone. We don’t care about individuals. We just play a team game and that is going to be a big part of any success we have.”

Twin Valley 0 0 –0
Villa Maria 4 1 -5

Goals: Yacovelli, Iacobucci, Harkins, Doyle, Miller
Goalie saves: Morrow (TV) 6, Acuna (VM) 3

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