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Germantown Academy edged in shootout by Episcopal Academy in PAISAA final

Germantown Academy's Sammy Popper send the ball past Episcopal Academy goalie Caroline Kelly. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

LOWER MERION >> Germantown Academy looked like it was on its way to its first PAISAA field hockey championship late in the second half Tuesday afternoon.

The No. 1 seeded Patriots overcame a two-goal deficit to take the lead over No. 3 Episcopal Academy with 8:18 remaining.

The Churchmen immediately answered 26 seconds later to tie the game.

The Inter-Ac rivals remained locked for the rest of regulation and the entire 15-minute overtime.

Episcopal came away with a 2-1 win in a shootout to claim the PAISAA championship, 4-3, over Germantown Academy at Bryn Mawr College.

Cat McFadden was Germantown Academy’s second shooter in the one-on-ones and was the only Patriot to score. She gave her side a 1-0 edge before Episcopal’s Gianna Pantaleo evened the score.

After four shooters for each side, the teams remained tied, 1-1. EA’s Maddie Rehak gave the Churchmen the lead and goalie Caroline Kelly stopped Grace Pacitti to clinch the state championship.

“We knew coming in Episcopal has a great goalie,” senior captain Sammy Popper, who shot fourth for the Patriots, said. “We heard in the Notre Dame game she had 27 saves and obviously we have a fantastic goalie (Olivia McMichael), too. Especially after an overtime like that, people are tired, legs are dying. Sometimes it just doesn’t go your way and that’s what happened today.

“Both goalies were really strong in the shootout and I think both sides’ legs were definitely dead. It was the goalies’ thing there. We did everything we could.”

Germantown Academy has been a second half team all season and that showed again against Episcopal.

The Patriots trailed, 1-0, at halftime and allowed another goal 59 seconds after intermission.

GA responded with three straight goals over a 13:02 stretch to take a 3-2 lead.

“We shuffled our lineup around a little bit,” GA coach Jackie Connard said. “We changed who was playing up front and we were able to generate a few more goals in the second half, but also gave up two. I was really, really proud of the way the girls fought back from being down 2-0 to get that 3-2 lead. That was huge.”

Popper scored all three goals.

The first she knocked in a pass across the middle.

The second came off a corner. She received an insert pass from Sophie Towne, dribbled through a few defenders and sent a backhand shot into the back of the net.

Her third came off another backhanded shot to make it 3-2 with 8:18 to go.

“When we went back on at halftime we just said, ‘Guys who wants it more? There’s 30 minutes left. Leave it all out on the field,’” Popper said, “and I think that’s what we did. After we scored our third goal and we were ahead I think we let the excitement get to us a bit too much. That would be the only thing I’d have to change about that half. Other than that I’m super proud about how we played.”

The lead was short-lived. EA’s Macy Szukics scored her second goal of the game with 7:52 remaining to knot things up at three.

“It’s always tough right after you score,” Connard said. “The other team gets mad, gets a little momentum and boom — right in. I thought our defense played outstanding today, but (Episcopal was) able to get fired up, take it right in and get that goal.”

Germantown Academy’s 2018 campaign comes to an end with the loss.

“It’s a tough way to lose in a shootout,” Connard said, “but I think you have to look at the bigger picture and realize it’s better to lose in a shootout than 10-2 like we did last year. We’ve come a long way. We won the Inter-Ac for the first time in 12 years. We’ve got to step back and realize that they did a lot of great things and today could’ve gone either way.”

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