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Heavy-hearted Gwynedd Mercy Academy wins District 1-2A opener over Phoenixville

Gwynedd Mercy Academy's Alaina McVeigh scored three goals in a 10-2 District 1-2A quarterfinal win over Phoenixville Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (Ed Morlock/MediaNews Group)

LOWER GWYNEDD >> The Gwynedd Mercy Academy field hockey team took the field with heavy hearts Tuesday afternoon for its District 1-2A first-round playoff game against Phoenixville five days after coach Zoë Rogers passed away.

Rogers, a 2019 GMA grad and member of the University of California, Berkeley field hockey team, was reported missing after a road game last Tuesday. She was found dead two days later. No details have been released about the cause of death or where her body was found.

“It’s been really tough for us,” GMA captain Alaina McVeigh, who played alongside Rogers during the 2018 season and believes they got closer this year, said. “Zoë was a huge part of our team. Today we really wanted to come out and play for her.

“(The team has) been getting together. I think that we’ve all had to become really close to each other and be with each other during this time.”

The Monarchs, Phantoms, officials and fans took part in a moment of silence before the game began at Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School.

When the game started, No. 3 seeded GMA wasted little time in honoring their coach. The Monarchs scored 35 seconds into the game to start a 10-2 win over No. 6 Phoenixville and advance to the district semifinals against No. 2 Upper Perkiomen Thursday at 4 p.m.

“(Monday) at practice was our first time back on the field,” GMA coach Ally Fuller said. “We’ve all been working, everybody individually and as a team, for us to come together and keep supporting and keep checking in on each other and trying to be unified. I think besides the win, (today) was really good for everybody to be able to do that together.”

McVeigh scored the first of her three goals in the opening minute, carrying the ball from midfield to the circle, stickhandling through defenders and finishing for a 1-0 lead.

“We didn’t really know what to expect,” McVeigh said. “We just wanted to come out and play our best and I think we did play really well today. Our passing was really good and obviously the score shows it.”

Alex Wentz followed with her first of four goals, scoring courtesy of a McVeigh assist to double the Monarchs (8-1) advantage halfway through the opening quarter.

“Alex has been great,” Fuller said. “Whether she’s been the one putting the goals in the net or helping us work the ball up across the 25, she’s just so powerful. She’s catching these balls from all over the field and taking it in. She’s really been a huge force this year and today with the four goals.”

Mel McGill and Wentz added goals in the second quarter to take a 4-0 lead into halftime.

GMA blew the game open in the third quarter, scoring four goals over an 11:58 stretch. Gabby Lorenzo, Wentz, McVeigh and Sydney Mandato each found the back of the cage to extend the lead to 8-0.

“We’ve really been working on moving the ball and focusing on our passing game,” Fuller said. “We’ve got a strong, fast attack so the more people that get involved the better, which you can tell by how many different people were scoring or getting assists it’s been working for us.”

Wentz and McVeigh each scored again in the first 4:25 of the fourth quarter. McVeigh’s score, the 99th goal of the junior’s career, came on a penalty stroke.

The Phantoms (3-3) fought until the end. Aubrie Breisblatt and Julia Grosso scored in the fourth quarter while Phoenixville put eight shots on goal in the final 15 minutes.

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