EAST WHITELAND >> In the aftermath of a home loss against a lower ranked opponent, things were pretty subdued for the Great Valley field hockey squad following a 2-0 loss to Merion Mercy on Tuesday. But it wasn’t any different than during the action.
And that was the problem.
With the sound of the coaching staff constantly urging the Patriots to start communicating, Great Valley came up short in its bid to make it to the District 1 2A final in large part because of the silence.
“I was disappointed,” said Pats’ head coach Maddie Craig. “I don’t know the team that was out there today.”
Normally an outgoing bunch, for some reason the team went into a shell at the worst moment possible. The only positive aspect is that fourth-seeded Great Valley’s season is not over. The Patriots (15-6 overall) will play at No. 3 Mount St. Josephs on Friday in the battle for third place. And either way, Great Valley is going to receive a berth in the PIAA Tournament.
“We’ve been really clicking and that starts with communicating,” Craig said. “Maybe there was some fear and we were hesitant.”
As a result, the eighth-seeded Golden Bears advance to Saturday’s district final to take on AACA rival Villa Maria. Merion Mercy (13-7-1 overall) finished fourth in the AACA, a couple spots lower than Mount St. Joe’s.
“It will not get any easier. We need to learn from this game,” Craig predicted.
The district semifinal was also a bit unlucky for the Pats, and particularly Aiden Drabick. The sophomore had a pair of prime scoring chances, but both missed the mark by about an inch.
“It was just really unlucky. I don’t know what happened today,” she said.
Despite having a clear edge in both shots on goal (5-1) and corners (6-2) in the first half, Great Valley found itself trailing 1-0 when Merion Mercy’s Emily Hauck scored off a penalty corner with 1:21 on the clock.
“We took a lot of wide shots. We just didn’t capitalize on our scoring opportunities,” Craig pointed out.
Drabick had a chance to give the Patriots the first goal, but with 13:21 on the clock, her penalty stroke bounced off the cage.
“I was just unlucky,” Drabick said. “I always go to the left and it hit the post.”
With momentum on their side, the Bears picked up the pace in the second half, and about nine minutes into the second half added another goal off another penalty corner. Victoria Arra took the pass from Tori Natale and buried it. It was Natale’s second assist of the day.
With about 80 seconds left in regulation, it looked like Drabick finally was going to get off the snide when she took a pass from teammate Mackenzie Hilditch, but her blast clanged off the crossbar.
“I guess in the second half we backed off a little bit,” Craig said.
“This is not a quiet team – we are very outgoing,” Drabick added. “But we were silent the whole game – no talking whatsoever. Most games we’ve been good with it, but some games we’ve been off. This was an off day.”
Even though Merion Mercy closed the gap, Great Valley ended the game with an edge in both shots (9-8) and corners (10-6).
“We weren’t really connecting today,” Drabick said.
“The field was silent,” Craig added. “I was just shocked to watch a game like this.
“It was very out of character. Maybe it was because of the high pressure, but it definitely took a toll on us.”
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