WEST CHESTER >> Great Valley faced a rough task Monday in the opening round of the District 1 3A field hockey tournament.
The 13th seeded Patriots were facing No. 4 seed West Chester Henderson on a cold, blustery evening at J. Oscar Dicks Stadium. One week ago, the youthful Patriots – who have only two seniors on their squad – lost to Henderson, 3-0. And the Warriors, with a 7-1 record entering the game, were coming in on a five-game winning streak.
But this time, the Patriots came out on fire, took a 1-0 first quarter lead, and never trailed in a 2-1 victory against the Warriors. Great Valley (6-3) advances to the district tournament quarterfinals Thursday, against No. 5 seed Central Bucks East.
“Our mindset was different this time,” said Great Valley freshman midfielder Eva Nemeth, who was a force in the middle against the Warriors Monday. “In the games that we won this season, we scored first, and I thought it was important to get our offensive movement going.”
Eva’s sister, freshman forward Nadia Nemeth, scored both of the Patriots’ goals Monday.
“We came out with more energy this time,” said Nadia. “We had the early momentum and did a really job keeping it. And our defensive press was tight tonight – we made a lot of interceptions in the middle.”
The Patriots had the ball deep in Henderson territory for much of the middle of the first quarter (with six corners in the period). With 2:43 left in the first stanza, Nadia Nemeth tallied an unassisted goal to put the visitors on top 1-0.
“We made some adjustments for this game – changed our attack formation,” said Great Valley head coach Brenda Haley. “We really came ready to play today, and while Nadia was great and Eva and Marley [Alleva] controlled the middle, the biggest key for us tonight was teamwork – we all worked together.”
Henderson head coach Courtney Evans said, “I thought both teams played at a high level, with lots of intensity, but we needed to play with that high intensity for all 60 minutes today – the playoffs are a whole other season – and we didn’t. Great Valley is a young team, and I thought they played at a higher level than they did against us a week ago.”
Henderson began to work the ball into Great Valley territory more frequently in the second quarter. The Warriors tied the score at 1-1 with 1:36 to go before halftime, as Sammi Cantor scored with an assist from senior Lauren Franco.
Throughout the third period and early in the fourth quarter, Henderson continued to threaten offensively, and had two corners in the last 15 seconds of the third stanza, but did not score.
With 11:11 left, the Patriots suddenly reversed the Warriors’ momentum when Nadia Nemeth scored on a long breakaway.
“With 15 minutes to go, I remember thinking, ‘We really have to go [all-out] here,’” said Nadia. “Then a few minutes later I saw Marley [Alleva] have a great drive up the field; she saw me get open and passed the ball to me, then I took a shot from the corner.”
“Nadia’s goal really charged us up,” noted Haley.
Great Valley penetrated deep into Warrior territory several times during the rest of the fourth quarter, but there was no more scoring by either team on this cold, blustery night.
While the Patriots continue to feel the warmth of the PIAA post-season, the season is suddenly over for Henderson.
“This was a tough game to lose,” said an emotional Evans, who just completed her second year as Henderson head coach. “We have some great seniors that we’ll be missing, but we also have some strong underclassmen who will work hard to bring us success in the future.”
A trio of Henderson seniors have committed to play field hockey in college – Franco (University of Scranton), Gianna Cugino (Fairfield University) and Liv Ingram (Catholic University).
“I think this season was the best one, out of the four years I played for Henderson,” said Franco.
“It really all came together for us this season,” said Ingram.
Great Valley 2, West Chester Henderson 1
Great Valley 1 0 0 1 – 2
WC Henderson 0 1 0 0 – 1
Great Valley goals: N. Nemeth 2.
West Chester Henderson goals: Cantor.
Goalie saves: GV – Hanlon 6; WCH – Martin 5.
Corners: GV 9, WCH 11.