HAVERFORD >> After her team’s 4-1 District 1 Class 3A field hockey playback victory over host Haverford at A.G. Cornog Stadium Tuesday afternoon, Unionville coach Erin Curtis reminded her players that she had to get home as soon as she could.
“I’ve got three younger ones waiting to go trick or treating,” Curtis said. But she was happy her players had treated her to two more days of practice this week before the district fifth-place game they will host Friday.
The trick for Unionville was to win Tuesday. Because the Indians did, they have been assured a place in the PIAA Class 3A Tournament, their first game Nov. 7.
“They responded well,” Curtis said. “They played as a team, and today we found a way to find the net, which we haven’t always been doing.”
Sophomore Maggie Lawrence was the first Unionville player to find the back of the goal cage, finishing a play started by senior Annie McDonough in the sixth minute for the only goal of the first half.
“We knew there would be pressure,” McDonough, who will play field hockey at the University of Virginia, said. “We had to keep our focus and stay strong.”
The second half was only four seconds past four minutes old when junior Madison Miles doubled Unionville’s advantage by poking in a rebound.
The Fords’ coaching staff contended that goalie Mary Grace DePlato had to raise her hand high enough for the shot to have been ruled dangerous and the goal should not have counted. They didn’t win their argument.
“I don’t want this to come out sounding like sour grapes,” Haverford head coach Christa Taylor said. “But sometimes one goal can really change the momentum of a game.
“We did have trouble making connections today. We had some trouble clearing, and we just didn’t get enough shots on goal.”
Haverford got that goal back two minutes later as senior Maggie Murphy scored, assisted by junior Sydney Corcoran.
It took nine minutes, but Unionville built its advantage up to two goals again when Claire Donovan scored, assisted by Katie Anderson. Lawrence closed out the scoring with four minutes to play.
“This team has been very close, and we’re happy we can keep playing together and play in the state tournament,” said Donovan, a Princeton recruit.
Curtis was delighted with the team effort.
“Everybody did a great job,” she said. “We got some big saves from Lizzie (Gaebel) in goal and we worked hard up and down the field.”
Murphy was the only senior in Haverford’s starting lineup, which included seven juniors, two sophomores and one freshman.
“We had a great group of kids, and they had a great season,” Taylor said. “We love our seniors, but we know we’ll have a good group coming back and some real good kids who will be ready to join them.
“We know the difficulty it can be (for young players) in the playoffs. But this was a great experience for our younger players. We just hope we can be playing longer next season.”
Top photo: Unionville’s Rebecca Peakes, left, defends against Haverford’s Caroline Boornazian in the first half at A.G. Cornog Field Tuesday. The Indians were 4-1 winners in the Class 3A elimination game. (PETE BANNAN – DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA)