Rosati, Gwynedd Mercy stand tall in PIAA AA 1st round win over Donegal

MILLERSVILLE — The word flustered doesn’t exist in Ava Rosati’s vocabulary.

Despite facing nearly unrelenting pressure in the form of 26 corners, Gwynedd Mercy Academy’s junior goalie was practically unbeatable. Rosati made 11 saves as the Monarchs topped District 3 champion Donegal 3-1 Tuesday night at Penn Manor’s Comet Fied in the first round of the PIAA Tournament.

“We’ve had games where we faced a lot of corners, so we know what we’re doing,’ Rosati said. “We practice them and we’re confident with the defense.’

Donegal capitalized on a sluggish start by the Monarchs, drawing its first corner not even three minutes into the match.

An excellent insert by Abby Sauder found Kayla Walker, who fired to the far post. Walker was a bit wide, but Kayla Forrey was there to beat GMA keeper Rosati.

The next 25 corners? They didn’t yield another goal.

The Monarchs stayed pinned in their end, unable to find senior Nicole Catalino in the midfield. Having seen enough, Monarchs coach Sue Persichetti called a timeout with 15:32 left in the half.

“We had a better idea of what we were dealing with,’ Persichetti said. “We knew (Donegal) was fast, we knew they were strong and that they were talented, but you have to see that in play.’

The talk worked, as GMA came out with a renewed energy. Catalino started to find the ball and was able to weave through the Indians to generate some chances.

A corner called at 11:28 would be the moment for the Monarchs. Megan DuVernois inserted to fulcrum Corinne Persichetti, who took a touch then cranked a shot from straight away. The ball drifted to the left post where Hailey Durkin tapped it in to level the score.

Hustle netted GMA’s go-ahead marker. Catalino again worked her way up the field, putting a shot into the circle that pinged off the near post and back out. Trailing the play, Caitlin McCauley was waiting on the far post to knock the ball in for the 2-1 lead with 8:04 left in the half.

GMA carried that lead into the half thanks to the stellar play of Rosati.

About three minutes after the Donegal goal, the Indians had drawn another corner. The insert found Rachel Robinson, who unleashed a thunderous shot that Rosati calmly parried.

“There was so much pressure that you just have to make sure you’re marking up,’ sophomore back Christina Motz said. “We had to make sure we were marking their players because the ball kept coming our way a lot.’

The junior preserved the lead with about 3:34 left when she made two saves in quick reaction. On the second shot, Rosati stoned a shoulder-height shot by extending her stick straight out to the side.

“It’s absolutely a reaction,’ Rosati said. “I think my Hail Mary before the game kind of helped.’

Catalino’s work was rewarded quickly in the second half. The Monarchs drew a quick corner and while the play didn’t get a goal, the ball stuck around.

Catalino pounced, going to the right side of the circle near the endline and threaded a shot into the cage for the 3-1 advantage.

Rosati had two big saves on Walker in the second half. With 7:18 left, Rosati denied a shot from the point by Amanda Robinson off a corner.

“We know it’s a team effort and we all have to be on our game,’ Rosati said. “The defense, it’s both us and the offense working together to get the win.’

Christina Motz had her goalie’s back with about 13 minutes left, sliding across the turf to knock a ball away from a sure goal.

“I felt that coming,’ Motz said. “I knew I had to get my stick down. I knew to mark up the post and I cleared it right out.’

Knowing her backs have, well, her back is a big comfort to Rosati.

“I know I can count on all of them,’ the goalie said.

McCauley and Catalino played a slick give-and-go that yielded two saves by Donegal goalie Katie Jean. That was about it as far as GMA’s offensive threats.

Donegal kept drawing corners, and while the Monarchs had a two-goal lead, they knew it was far from done.

“We take nothing for granted, especially with a team as excellent as Donegal,’ Persichetti said. “Even with a 3-1 lead, our goal was to keep them from scoring instead of trying to keep scoring.’

With Rosati and the backs, that wasn’t an issue. The goalie stoned another big rip from Amanda Robinson with 7:18 left.

Robinson forced another save by Rosati a few minutes later, collected the rebound and fired again only to be denied by a GMA defender for another team save.

Donegal got six corners in the final three minutes, but only two shots, each answered by Rosati.

“When we have a timeout, the first thing I say is, ‘ Ava, what’ve you got?,’ Persichetti said. “Her perspective is so huge for us on defense and on offense.

“She is a true leader and a positive leader and she brings people together. She’s been in some really tough positions with our defense and she just rallies them, she never blames them, instead she rallies them and they listen to her.’

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