DOYLESTOWN >> It was not meant to be for the New Hope-Solebury Lions as dreams of a perfect season came crashing down against the Gwynedd Mercy Academy Monarchs.
The Monarchs used defense and a pair of goals to defeat the Lions by a score of 2-1 in the District 1/12 Class A regional championship Thursday at War Memorial Field at Central Bucks West High School.
“It feels amazing to get our title back,” said GMA’s Lilly Gilmore, who had a goal. “We played as a team and everyone did it for each other. We didn’t do it as individuals. We played as one.”
New Hope-Solebury (19-1) was no doubt favored in this game, but Gwynedd Mercy Academy (15-8) showed little fear.
The Monarch’s came out and got five quick steals against the Lions and thwarted any early offense.
New Hope-Solebury got the first chance to score, but was swallowed up by goalie Zoë Rogers.
Rogers had 10 saves against New Hope-Solebury’s 12 shots.
Gwynedd Mercy Academy took the ball down the other way and Alden Boccella scored off a ricochet for a 1-0 lead.
The goal gave the Monarch’s momentum that they carried for much of the second half.
The Lions’ defense then came alive as it began getting steals and turning them into offense.
It seemed like the New Hope-Solebury could never get a great shot off once in Monarchs’ defensive zone.
When it did, the chances were squashed by Rogers and company.
The biggest threat to Gwynedd Mercy Academy was Sarah Wilson.
Wilson leads the Bicentennial Athletic League with 53 goals, 122 points and ranks in the top 10 with 16 assists.
She was clearly the best player on the Lions, but struggled to get her shot and couldn’t solve the Monarchs’ defense.
“They have a lot of strong players, but I think coming together and working as one shut their strongest players down and we did it,” Gilmore said.
Gwynedd Mercy started the second half in the defensive zone of New Hope-Solebury, but the momentum did not last long.
The Lions then seemed re-energized on offense and looked intent on making something happen.
After New Hope failed to come away with a goal, Gwynedd Mercy came the other way and Gilmore scored to give the Monarchs breathing room.
The extra goal lead proved critical when Lilly Smith scored with 4:22 left in the game.
New Hope-Solebury had 11 corners in the game to eight for Gwynedd Mercy, but could only take advantage of one of them.
Smith appeared to score off one corner off the goalie’s foot, but a whistle had blown before the goal crossed the line.
On the next possession, Smith whacked another ball into the goal mouth that counted this time.
“I was just really happy because I thought we could have had a chance to get another one and win the game,” Smith said.
The Monarchs won the ensuing faceoff that kept the ball in the Lions’ defensive end for the next two minutes.
New Hope-Solebury got the ball back into Gwynedd Mercy territory, but could not come up with the necessary tying goal and time expired.
“We got caught on a quick transition goal,” Smith said. “That is unfortunate, but honestly my girls played hard. They came back. We had opportunities, but we just didn’t put them away. We had more corners, but we just didn’t convert them, whereas last game we didn’t have as many, but we converted more.”
This was a revenge game for the Monarchs after the Lions defeated them 3-0 in the District 1 championship Oct. 27.
“It is extremely rewarding,” GMA coach Alex McMahan said. “Last Friday was a big blow. We went in there hoping and expecting a different result. When they set us back on our heels, it made us determined to come back and correct the record and work even harder today. We are thrilled to have played such a great hockey game and to come out on top.”
The season is not over for either team as both are headed to the PIAA tournament.
Gwynedd Mercy Academy 2, New Hope-Solebury 1
New Hope-Solebury 1 1 – 2
Gwynedd Mercy Academy 0 1 – 1
Goals: GMA: Alden Boccella, Lilly Gilmore. NHS: Lilly Smith.
Assists: GMA: 0. NHS: 0.
Saves: GMA: Rogers 10. NHS: Elsie Jones 3.