LOWER GWYNEDD — Weather can change a lot on the field hockey pitch. However, the wind, the cold, and the rain wasn’t what seemed to trip up the No. 2 seed Gwynedd Mercy Academy Monarchs Saturday afternoon as they took on the No. 1 Villa Maria Hurricanes for the District 1-AA title.
Both teams will be moving on to the AA state playoff’s but that didn’t make the District 1-AA finals matchup any less meaningful to either squad. In the end the Hurricanes defeated the Monarchs 5-2 and captured the District 1 crown.
“It wasn’t as much of a team effort as we have been playing with lately,’ said Monarchs head coach Sue Persichetti. “We kind of went back to the way we were playing at the beginning of the season where we were relying on a couple of strong players and today it just seemed like maybe the younger players got intimidated by these big games but it’s not going to happen again.’
Villa Maria head coach Daan Polders believed the rain actually helped his squad and played to their strengths.
“We like a fast game,’ he said. “And the wet weather only made us faster.’
These teams had met twice before this season, and split the matchups earlier in the year so on paper it appeared to be a toss-up as to who would come out victorious today.
Polders said it was important for his team to trust what got them there and not necessarily focus on their previous head-tohead battles.
“You know their weaknesses you know their strengths and we tried to put a little bit more emphasis on it but we really don’t do much with it (knowledge from the previous matchups),’ he said. “We just play our own game and go from there because we trust in what we do and rely on that and it seemed to work again today.’
It didn’t take long for the scoring to begin in their third matchup. Just under three minutes into the game, Villa Maria junior forward, Abby Siana, knocked a loose ball into the goal to give her team the early lead and an early boost as well.
Another goal from the Hurricanes, this time from Lindsay Dickinson about midway through the first half, gave her team the 2-0 lead and what looked to be command of the game, but the Monarchs came storming back and weren’t about to go down without a fight.
A goal by senior midfielder Corinne Persichetti put them down just one with over 10 minutes remaining in the half and gave her team some momentum going into the break.
Just one minute and fifty one seconds into the second half the Monarchs were once again on the board, this time courtesy of Nicole Catalino. Just like that the game was tied and completely up for grabs.
Unfortunately for Gwynedd Mercy, it would only stay that way for about a minute.
While Catalino did have one goal in the game, the Monarchs’ star was held relatively in check by the Hurricanes and struggled at times to create opportunities.
“I think it was just one of those days which are few and far between,’ said Coach Persichetti. “We made some strategy changes that we thought could help us around that (Villa Maria’s defense) and it didn’t work.’
Fifty seconds after Catalino’s equalizer, Monarch goalie Ava Rosati made a great initial save on a difficult shot that looked like it was headed for the back of the goal.
Unfortunately, as one of her defenders was trying to clear the rebound out of the goal area she inadvertently knocked the ball off of Rosati and into her own net.
That own goal seemed to take the sails out of the Monarchs ship and two later goals by the Hurricanes sealed the deal and gave them the District 1 championship.