EXETER TWP. >> For more than 20 minutes of the first half of Saturday morning’s PIAA Class AA field hockey quarterfinal game at Exeter High, Archbishop Carroll faced the challenge that was the Donegal Indians and refused to back down.
Donegal came into the match undefeated and ranked No. 7 in the topofthecircle.com national Top 10 poll, right behind No. 5 Episcopal Academy and No. 6 Unionville, the District One Class AAA champion.
“They’re really a strong team,” Carroll senior co-captain Mary Jones said, after Donegal scored twice in the final six minutes of the first half to break a tie score and added five second-half goals to earn an 8-1 decision over Carroll.
Donegal (25-0), the District Three champion, will take on defending state champ Villa Maria — a 6-0 winner over District Three runner-up Moravian Academy in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Exeter — in a Class AA semifinal contest Tuesday.
The Indians had allowed only seven goals during their perfect season, but senior Gracie McClatchy put Carroll ahead, 1-0, in the seventh minute Saturday. McClatchy, who had the Patriots’ two scores in their 2-0 decision over Southern Lehigh in their state tournament opener, was assisted by junior Sam Swart, who picked up a pair of assists against Southern Lehigh.
It took Donegal, which has scored 210 goals this season, one minute to get even. Freshman Mackenzie Allessie picked up the first of her two goals — her 58th and 59th this fall — on a sharp reverse sweep to pull Donegal even. Seven minutes later, Lily Saunders, another ninth grader, finished a play started by senior Kayla Walker, who picked up one goal and three assists.
Six minutes before halftime, Saunders and Walker teamed for another score, giving the Indians a 3-1 halftime advantage.
“They were just so good at hitting a big ball and making their connections and always having somebody open going ahead,” said Jones, who turned in a defensive save in each half.
Donegal added two goals in the first 6½ minutes of the second half and got its final three scores in the last 6½ minutes. The final stats were overwhelmingly in the Indians’ favor — 33 shots to four, and 24 penalty corners to five. Three years ago, in Donegal’s overtime state tourney win over Carroll, the Patriots had to defend against 37 penalty corners.
“We lost (to Bonner-Prendergast) in the (Catholic League semifinals),” Jones said. “Then we got a second chance when we found out we were going to states. And we made it to the second round.”
Jones, seniors Carly Peters and Jordyn Crossan, and junior Maddie Sutter did what they could to hold their team’s defense together in front of junior goalie Kimmy McGroary, who turned away nine shots.
“We tried to give it our all and make sure we were backing each other up,” Gabby Sutter, the Pats’ other senior captain, said. “We’ve been close as a team on and off the field.”
Carroll coaches Kelly Dougherty, who worked an overnight shift as a nurse at Lankenau Hospital Friday, and Jackie DePetris, who also is a nurse but had Friday night off and was able to drive Dougherty to the game, had to rush home from Ephrata to change their clothes and make the trip to Galloway Township, New Jersey, for Lauren Wuzzardo’s wedding, which was to begin at 4:30 p.m. Wuzzardo, an All-Big East player during her days at Villanova who also was a member of the Carroll coaching staff, and DePetris went through nursing school together at Drexel University.
“It’s a shame our season had to end with a game like this,” said Dougherty, who played for a Catholic League title team at Carroll 10 years ago. “We lost some very good players from last year’s (Catholic League championship) team, and we moved some girls around this year.
“We knew they would take time getting used to our new formations and their new roles. They came back from the disappointment of their (Catholic League playoff) loss. They have a lot to remember about what they did this season.”
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