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Mount St. Joseph-Donegal matchup highlights big PIAA playoff weekend

Mount Saint Joseph Academy head field hockey coach Tina Reinprecht has not seen Donegal High School play this year.

But she knows, that when her Magic field hockey team takes on the unbeaten Indians (26-0) Saturday at Twin Valley High School (noon) in the PIAA Class field hockey quarterfinals, they’ll be seeing a club that’s young (two seniors), potent (note their record) and as determined as her own to reach the state semifinals.

“They have a strong program, and we’re going to have to play very well as a team to play with them,” Reinprecht said. “We haven’t been to states in a while, so none of our players have had that experience.

“But we don’t want them to be playing with a fear of losing — we need them to play the same team game we’ve played all year.”

The Indians have been nothing less than a juggernaut, having won their third straight District 3 title and then escorting District One’s Henderson out of the opening round of the playoffs, 4-1, this past Tuesday.

But Indians head coach Jess Shellenberger is aware her team is in for a battle.

“We took (Wednesday) to regroup after a very physical game (Tuesday),” Shellenberger said. “We’ve been going over some tactics in preparation for Mount Saint Joseph.

“We’re looking forward to playing another good team with a strong tradition, like Mount Saint Joseph.”

To do that, the Indians have the likes of senior Rachel Robinson (who Wednesday signed a National Letter of Intent to play at the University of Virginia), scorers Mackenzie Allessie and Grace Miller and goalkeeper Katie Jean (whose eight first-half saves against Henderson kept the Indians alive before a three-goal, second-half barrage forged the end result.

“We know we’re up against a very strong program,” Reinprecht said. “We have to play hard, possess the ball and not be reckless.”

The Mount, making its first state trip since reaching as a Class AAA program in 2012, relies on scoring from the likes of Julianna Kratz, Margot Biamon and Princeton commit Margaret Lynch.

Shellenberger is aware of that firepower, but is confident in her team’s ability to stick together and play with determination is a major key to their success.

“This team has the will to win,” the coach said. “They hate to lose, and there’s a genuine love, trust and respect for each other.

“We’re a family and we want to keep this run going for as long as we can.”

Reinprecht feels her team has that same cohesiveness and used defender Hanna Poliwoda as an example of the Magic’s determined stance.

“She just works really hard,” Reinprecht said. “She’s one of the most consistent players on the team, and she wasn’t guaranteed anything at the beginning of this year. She’s just worked her way into the lineup and now she’s one of our best defenders.”

As for how far the Magic can go, Reinprecht said that will depend on how long they can play as a team.

“Collectively, we have a lot of different playing experiences here,” Reinprecht said. “But if we’re going anywhere we have to do it as a team.

“We’re happy with this opportunity. One of our girls’ goals at the beginning of the season was to get to states. And it’s going to be exciting to see what Saturday will bring.”

In other weekend playoff action

North Penn (1-3) vs. West Chester Henderson (1-1)
When: Saturday. 1 p.m. Spring-Ford High School.
The Knights seek to do what only one other team has done this year, defeat the Warriors.
North Penn needed, and got a first-half penalty kick from Mike Kohler to defeat La Salle, 1-0, in Round One while the Warriors shook off a slow start and got two goals and an assist apiece from Aiden McFadden and Frank DeRosa to close out Cumberland Valley, 6-2.

Lansdale Catholic (12-1) vs. Salisbury (11-1)
When: Saturday: 3 p.m. Parkland High School.
These two district titlists square off as the Crusaders, fresh off a 3-2 win over Biglerville, try and advance to the state semis at the expense of the Falcons.
LC got a hat trick from Noah Saba in the victory over Biglerville, although the Crusaders also have plenty of firepower in the persons of Josh Yurasits and Matt Noti.
The Falcons, fresh off defeating unbeaten District Two champ Scranton Prep, are led by the scoring of Ethan Heydt and James Hadinger.

Camp Hill (3-1) vs. Faith Christian (1-1)
When: Saturday, noon, Governor Mifflin High School, Shillington.
The Lions of Camp Hill have plenty of scoring power, with Noah Resota (23 goals) and Amias Colestock (15 goals) leading the way.
Faith Christian is paced by the triumvirate of Kory Shuster, Kazuya Hirano and Michael Pearson, and is fresh off winning the program’s first district soccer title.

Pennridge (1-2) vs. Cumberland Valley (3-1)
When: Saturday, 7 p.m. Exeter High School.
The Rams got key goals from Erin Stevenson, Kennedy Peace and Sarah Williams in an opening-round, 3-0 win over Stroudsburg to reach the second round.
Cumberland Valley used goals from Katie McInroy, Rachael Dorwart and Mallory Johnson to overcome Downingtown East in Round One.

Plymouth Whitemarsh (1-2) vs. Parkland (11-1)
When: Saturday, 2:30, Exeter Township High School.
The Trojans are coming off their third straight District 11 title, while the Colonials fell to Bishop Shanahan in the District One title game.
Parkland always seems to play its best at this time of year, and this season is paced by the trio of Sam Graver, Morgan Shervin and Grace Steurer.
The Colonials, who unseated long-time district powerhouse Upper Merion in the D-1 playoffs, are led by Lily Acquaviva, Emilee Waltz and Lauren Coscia.

Cardinal O’Hara vs. Allentown Central Catholic
When: Saturday, 12:30, Exeter High School.
The Vikings landed their second straight District 11 title behind the skills of Emily Pellini, Rachel Hess and Julia Bradford, while the Lions, who stunned state-ranked York Suburban to earn a state quarterfinal berth, are paced by Meaghan Williams and the sister team of Erin and Kiki Daly.

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