The regular season did not end well for the Sacred Heart Academy field hockey team. The Lions lost six of their last seven games, all to schools significantly bigger than the tiny private Catholic School located in the Bryn Mawr section of Haverford Township.
Two of the losses were to Catholic Academies League rivals Villa Maria and Merion Mercy, which finished 1-2 in the District 1 Class 2A tournament. Villa is the defending PIAA Class 2A champion. Yet that has not prevented SHA from going on a playoff run for the ages.
The Lions have won three of their last four games to reach the quarterfinal round of the PIAA Class A tournament. Tuesday’s 4-1 victory over District 12 champ Lansdale Catholic was the first state tournament win in program history.
The only loss in that stretch was a 2-0 decision to New Hope-Solebury in the District 1 championship game.
Can the Lions continue the magic against defending Class A champion Greenwood in the quarterfinals Saturday morning at Manheim Township High School (11 a.m.)? They’ll certainly give it a try.
“We play in such a competitive league,” Sacred Heart coach Patty McNevin said. “When they’re up against those opponents that have all these Division I players, we don’t have that. We have one girl (Julia Flood) who is committed to college. But I think that it is finally sinking in that they can play with these teams as long as we play as a team.”
Flood, who will attend Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, has been the go-to player on offense for the Lions (9-12-1). She has scored five goals in the postseason, three in the District 1 tournament and two more in 4-1 triumph over Lansdale Catholic in the state opener. Mary Lauren Franz (two goals) and Dani Santori (one) have the other goals for the Lions, who are in the PIAA tournament for the fourth time in program history.
Greenwood (20-1), the District 3 champ, has won 18 in a row. The only loss was a 3-2 setback to Lower Dauphin on Sept. 15. The Wildcats are led by senior Paitlyn Wirth. She is ranked as one of the top 10 players in the country by Maxfieldhockey.com. Wright is headed to Penn State and has scored more than 170 goals in her career.
“We’ll see,” McNevin said. “We’re walking into it not really knowing too much about them, but we’re ready for the task at hand.”
In Class 2A, Catholic League and District 12 champ Archbishop Carroll (18-4) has an equally daunting task in the quarterfinals at Twin Valley High School (2 p.m.). The Patriots face a Donegal team that is ranked No. 7 nationally and No. 3 in the state by Maxfieldhockey.com.
The Indians (25-1) have won five in a row since suffering a 1-0 loss to Penn Manor, the No. 6 team in the nation, on Oct. 20. Donegal is led by senior Mackenzie Allessie, the National Federation of High Schools record holder with 347 career goals. She has 120 goals this season and is headed to Ohio State.
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