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No miracle this time as Bonner & Prendergast falls short

PHILADELPHIA >> There were 17.3 seconds to play in the Philadelphia Catholic League field hockey final last week when Bonner & Prendergast scored to pull even with Archbishop Carroll.

The Pandas scored the winning goal early in overtime that night, and came back a day later to win the District 12 Class 2A championship and qualify for the PIAA Tournament for the second consecutive year.

Things have been a little different at Berks Catholic, which is a newcomer to state tournament play in field hockey. The Saints have a fresh face in their program who made a big difference in their 4-3 win over Bonner & Prendergast in the opening round of the PIAA Class 2A tourney in a match played at Benjamin Johnston Memorial Stadium Tuesday afternoon.

Junior Isabella Bressler scored all of Berks Catholic’s goals, and the Saints (19-4) held on to snap Bonner & Prendie’s eight-game winning streak and put the finishing touches on the Pandas’ season.

Berks Catholic’s reward for its success Tuesday will be a quarterfinal game against District 1 champion Villa Maria, which rolled to a 10-0 decision over New Oxford in its state tournament opener.

Bonner & Prendergast coach Joanne Dolan spent a good portion of the game disagreeing with a number of calls that were made by the officials, at one point drawing a yellow card, which put her team one player down for five minutes.

“I just didn’t like that kind of officiating for a game as important as this,” Dolan said. “It’s very disappointing when it seems like you’re playing against the other team and the officials.

“Our girls tried to play through it and never gave up. They showed something with the way they came back.”

Bonner & Prendie (15-7) had to come back after falling behind at halftime, 3-0, and trailing 4-1 with seven minutes to play. Bressler, who has committed to the University of Maryland, scored her first two goals two minutes apart midway through the opening half, and she used a strong reverse-stick drive to make it a hat trick four minutes before halftime.

“I transferred from Schuylkill Valley to Berks Catholic this year,” said Bressler, who plays for the X-Calibur club team in Pottstown. “Being new to the school, I was happy that we could get this far in my first year and do this today.”

Bonner & Prendergast outshot Berks Catholic in the second half, 9-1, and had eight penalty corners to the Saints’ four. Hailey Horan got the Pandas on the scoreboard in the 11th minute after the intermission, but the Saints’ combination of Bressler and Madeline Iswalt, who had two assists, made Berks Catholic’s only shot on goal in the final 30 minutes count with 7:08 to play.

At that point, the B-P rallying cry became “17.3” as a reminder of the magic the team had worked four days ago in the PCL final. With 4:39 left, Maeve Finnegan converted a penalty stroke, and less than two minutes later Meg Sullivan got another Pandas goal, with Horan adding the assist.

That would be as close as Bonner & Prendie would come as Berks Catholic tightened its defense and played a possession game in running out the clock.

“It just turned out that it wasn’t our day,” Dolan said. “We wanted to get to the second round of states again this year. I just hope our girls who are coming back will keep working hard and give us that chance next year.”

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