Peterson’s goal helps GA deny Episcopal in final

CONSHOHOCKEN >> The recipe for Annelise Peterson, by her own admission, required a little luck and hope.

The reserve Germantown Academy forward fielded a long ball from Bailey Gilmore in the waning moments of the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association final Saturday night. She hoped for space to get off a shot, then received her dose of luck.

Peterson’s shot skittered off the turf at the Proving Grounds, befuddling Episcopal Academy goalkeeper Hannah Moriarty and tickling the net for the only marker in a 1-0 win.

“Great ball over the top,” Peterson said. “Adrenaline was pumping, there was two defenders on me. I was very hopeful to find that open space, take that shot. It kind of curved on the ground, so I was very lucky for that.”

Peterson, an imposing sophomore, was only in the position thanks to a steady exodus of GA attackers from the field on a frigid, physical evening. Some five minutes before Peterson’s tally, center forward Mackenzie Pluck limped off, while attacking midfielders Riley Axenroth and Kathryn Hackley also were forced out of the affair.

Peterson did her bit, eluding EA’s center back pair for that window of space. The odd bounce off the turf wrong-footed Moriarty to her right as the shot bee-lined for the corner panel to the goalie’s left.

“I’m thinking, ‘please let that go in,’” Peterson said. “That’s the only thing you can think of.”

Despite getting the goal, top-seeded GA ceded most of the possession and chances to No. 3 EA. (Those seeds were determined before EA claimed the Inter-Ac title, securing a second 3-2 win of the regular season over GA two weeks ago.)

Episcopal forced six saves from Germantown’s Kat Stambaugh, including a superb tip over the bar of a Jess Shanahan shot in the 28th minute.

Shanahan and Molly O’Brien, EA’s primary attacking protagonists all season, received several open looks at net. But their efforts either sailed over or wide, the creativity yielding few concrete chances.

“It kind of went both ways,” the junior forward O’Brien said. “They had opportunities, we had opportunities. I think we had a little bit more of the opportunities, but we were just unlucky tonight. We couldn’t finish, couldn’t put it in the back of the net.”

The loss further complicates EA’s legacy this season. The Churchwomen won 10 of 12 Inter-Ac games en route to a first league title since 2012. But they’ve stumbled at two big hurdles down the stretch — losing to archrival Agnes Irwin in the regular-season finale to be denied an unbeaten league season, and the PAISAA final loss. Both of those losses, not coincidentally, came without center back Lily Shaner, who injured her ankle in the last GA tilt.

Even after the setback Saturday, though, the consensus appraisal of the season skews heavily toward the positive.

“We had a really awesome season,” O’Brien said. “We won the Inter-Ac and our team, we really came together. But unfortunately tonight, we couldn’t prove that we were the (PAISAA) champions as well.”

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