BUCKINGHAM >> Some nifty stick work helped Central Bucks East field hockey’s Riley Donnelly in posting the opening strike in Monday afternoon’s District 1-AAA first round contest with Wissahickon.
“There’s kind of few girls at the top of the circle, I a kind of lifted over the one girl’s stick and kind of hit it out of the air,” Donnelly said. “I was kind of fortunately enough just to hit the far post and they have a really strong goalie, so that was a happy moment for me. It was a good moment.”
Just 51 seconds later, Donnelly added to the exuberance by blasting in a shot from the top of the circle off a corner.
“Especially to get that goal that quickly, it really puts the other team on their toes,” she said.
The quick strikes proved too much for the visitors. The 19th-seeded Trojans struggled throughout most of the contest getting through the No. 14 Patriots high pressure, while East tacked on another goal after halftime to advance to the second round with a 3-0 victory.
“Our defense played amazing, we had great saves and everyone was marking. I think we just struggled with our transition,” Wissahickon goalkeeper Claire Tarzia said. “Getting through the midfield was definitely a hard point where we were slowing down and not speeding up and not recovering fast enough sometimes.
“And second half, we came out and we definitely sped up a lot and exploded and we needed that. We just didn’t capitalize on our shots. That was a little rough, but in defense from my perspective, my defense was amazing.”
Cailey Level added the final tally for Central Bucks East (15-4-0), which was making its first district appearance since 2011. The Patriots now face third seed Central Bucks West Wednesday. East lost twice to their undefeated Suburban One League Continental Conference rival this season — 3-1 on Sept. 24 and 2-1 Oct. 16.
“Every playoff game is exciting, but the East-West rivalry kind of has its own something to it, for sure,” Donnelly said.
Wissahickon, meanwhile, ends its year with a 13-6-0 overall record as the Trojans fell in the district first round for the third consecutive season.
“Overall, I think we had a great season,” Tarzia said. “We came out not really expecting to be this good, I think. But then we came out, I think we killed it. We had so many strong players, so many seniors that just came out of the works and played so well.”
Wissahickon’s best play Monday came after halftime when it found a way to break the East pressure. Sammi Pak got an open run at the cage, but her shot was blocked by keeper Sydney Richter. The ball rattled around in front, but the Trojans could not knock it in.
“They were really good with their first step to cut off passes and we decided to hold the ball a little more and dribble and let them smacks our sticks, which they did,” Trojans coach Lucy Gil said.
The Patriots, however, began once again to halt Wissahickon’s movement upfield and began pushing for a third goal. East earned a penalty stroke with 14:51 left, but Reilly Finegan sent her shot wide left.
“Strokes are always terrifying,” Tarzia said. “You see the ball seven yards in front of you and you just know you have to dive either way and block the ball. But I got lucky that she missed and I hoped that even if she hadn’t, I would have saved it either way.”
East, however, made it 3-0 with 6:54 left on a corner. Mackenzie Boyle lofted the ball at the cage and with it loose in front Lever finally banged it in.
Donnelly gave CB East the only goal it needed at 14:11 in the first half. Wissahickon defended a corner, but a call against the Trojans gave East possession six yards outside the circle. Sarah Sheehy quickly sent a pass forward to Donnelly, who got past a defender, played the ball over the stick of another then uncorked a shot past Tarzia for the 1-0 lead.
The Patriots doubled their advantage at 13:20 on a corner initiated by Lever with Donnelly ripping a shot from the top of the circle into the back of the cage.
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