EAST WHITELAND — Coming off a few less than competitive games where goals came at a breakneck pace, Unionville was going to have to adjust quickly to a team that was going to give them a challenge.
Great Valley, while still a young team, has been making some noise this season, and Wednesday’s Ches-Mont League American Division field hockey matchup with the Patriots featured arguably the top two teams in the division. Unionville got a first-half goal from Claire Donovan and made it stand up to post a 1-0 victory.
“We knew we were in for a test,’ said Unionville coach Beth Lynch. “After playing a few games where we scored a lot of goals, coming here and finding we weren’t connecting with the back of the cage, it’s a little tough. But they kept their cool and got the win. A 1-0 win in the league is nothing to be upset about.’
Just over ten minutes into the game, Unionville’s Erin Matson brought the ball up the right sideline and sent a pass across the front of the cage. Donovan was waiting on the post, and tapped it in for the easy score.
“Claire Donovan’s goal was beautiful,’ said Lynch. “She’s only a freshman. Kudos as well to Annie McDonough who did a great job getting the ball upfield.’
To Donovan, it was a simple matter of knowing where she needed to be.
“When I see Erin Matson with the ball, I know she going to bring the ball all the way down, and I know I have to get on the post,’ said Donovan. “I know she’s going to get it to me somehow and I’ll just have to tip it in.’
Shortly after the Unionville score, the Patriots’ ability to come back was hindered with the loss of Mia Tornetta, a key offensive cog, to injury when she was struck with a stick.
“Mia is just so aggressive,’ said coach Claire Emplitt. “That aggressiveness in bring that ball up is really big to our offense. She really makes things happen. Field hockey isn’t a one-player game—and I thought all my players played tough today– but when she went down it certainly had an effect on our momentum.’
Unionville did a nice job on the defensive side of the ball as well, limiting the Patriots to just a pair of shots on goals, and five penalty corners.
“Defensively, I thought we were very well prepared for Great Valley, especially on corners,’ said Lynch. “Catie Ward and Caroline Fisher are staples back there. They really gave pressure and did a nice job carrying the ball out, and help keep us playing our game, a possession game.’
Despite the tough loss to a quality opponent, the young Great Valley squad is starting to understand that they have something.
“I thought we played an excellent game, fighting start to finish,’ said Emlpitt. “We’re just starting to come to the realization that we can compete with the better teams. We just need to finish and get the ball in the cage. If we do that, we’ll get some wins and hopefully be in the conversation for a district playoff berth.’