HAVERFORD — It’s been apparent in the boxscore and on the field what is missing for Archbishop Carroll in states.
It hasn’t shown on the scoreboard, as a comprehensive 19-8 win over Mount St. Joseph in the second round of the PIAA Class 2A tournament Saturday at Haverford High attests. But it’s clear that Carroll isn’t the same without Ava Bleckley.
The junior midfielder can’t take part in states due to PIAA transfer rules, having spent her sophomore season at Notre Dame. That means that the reigning champs have to adjust minus their second-leading scorer at 42 goals and 53 points.
Two games against overmatched District 1 opposition in, however, Carroll (22-0) seems fine.
“It was great to have Ava out there because she’s such a prominent player and amazing all over the field,” senior attacker Kiley Mottice said. “But I think it’s been good for us because we’ve had a lot of younger players step up into bigger roles, and everyone’s working hard for each other.”
Bleckley’s athleticism, from her reaction time on draws to her open-field speed, is tough to replace. But Carroll is adapting with more draws taken by Mottice, the UNC signee, while Machaela Henry and sophomores Chloe Bleckley and Sienna Golden shoulder more of the load.
Saturday, Carroll controlled 20 of 28 draws. Mottice and Golden led with six each, Chloe Bleckley added five. Mottice can expand her role, and the rest is up to the depth cultivated by Lorraine Beers’ 21-time reigning Catholic League champions.
“I think it’s definitely hard not having Ava up there just because the entire team has gotten such good chemistry all together,” Mottice said. “But all of the girls on the team have stepped up, on the draw and on the field. The entire team has nothing but confidence to step up and do what we need to do.”
Eleven Patriots netted goals Saturday, led by Mottice’s four goals and two assists. The Patriots led 12-3 at half and tipped the game into running clock at 15-5 on with 21 minutes to play.
It could’ve been much worse for the Magic (16-7) if not for a superb effort from goalie Annie Shields, who made nine stops. Kate Donovan and Ava Rossi scored twice each for the District 1 third-place team.
Carroll’s Brooke Wilson tallied a hat trick to go with an assist. Henry, Brooke Hippert and Cate McConaghy scored twice each. Emma Talago, Chloe Bleckley and Shannon Wood had a goal and an assist apiece.
“It was good to attack something we don’t normally see,” Mottice said. “It was good to have the pressure on us because it required us to move the ball a lot and do a different kind of offense than we’re used to. But It’s obviously helpful to have Em and everyone else on the field that can feed the ball, so then it’s just focusing on finishing the shot.”