Field hockey team knocks off Mt. St. Joseph in double OT, will take on Owen J. Roberts, Sat. for District title
By Dave Conard, Correspondent, UnionvilleTimes.com
TOWAMENCIN — The dictionary describes “confidence” as “a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances”.
That being said, Webster’s may need to amend that definition with a team photo of the 2011 Unionville field hockey squad along with a caption “see them.”
In her first season at the helm, head coach Madison Weary has the Indians in uncharted waters as Unionville, battled back from two, one-goal deficits to emerge from Wednesday’s PIAA District One semi final with a 4-3 double overtime, strokes victory over perennial state championship contender Mount St. Joseph Academy.
As the eleventh seeded Indians line up Saturday at Wissahickon High School to face number five seed Owen J. Roberts in pursuit of the first District One Field hockey championship in school history, a shout out or two directed at net minder Sam Carlino, who was nothing short of sensational in the semis, may be in order.
Carlino was spectacular in the stroke tiebreaker format, which is implemented in the playoffs by the PIAA when a game cannot be decided after two 15-minute overtime periods, as she did not allow a goal in the shoot out while Unionville snipers scored on three-of-four attempts.
That in itself would be reason enough to ensure that the senior captain never has to carry her own bag again or fill her own water bottle, but the four saves that Carlino made during the two overtime periods which preserved an chance for Eleni Kirifides, Izzy McDonough and Brielle Hartzell to work their magic, pardon the pun.
“We knew that people take us a little for granted,” said Carlino. “I was confident before the season started that we would make the playoffs, but never imagined that we would be playing for the district title. We have so many talented girls and are playing so well as a team right now this is so much fun.”
The Magic, who have played for state title in two of the past six years jumped out to an early lead on a goal by junior Anne Burgoyne with 6:58 left in the first, after which Weary immediately called a time out, instead of the goal taking the wind out of the Indians sails, instead it seemed to energize the Unionville squad.
Katja Hansen evened the score with a rebound of a shot off the stick of Annabeth Donovan, who pushed the Indians to a 2-1 halftime lead, less than two minutes later on a laser shot from 20-yards out.
“This is amazing,” said Weary, who is in her fist year as a varsity coach. “I knew we had talent on this team, but you need more than that. They have come together so well as a team and are beginning to believe and have confidence in them selves and each other, which has help them take their game to a whole new level.”
“I wanted to get us back in focus after that first goal,” added Weary. “They (Mount) have been in this situation many times, for us it’s new. We did a great job of getting right back at it and going into halftime with a lead was huge for our confidence.”
Mount refused to go quietly as they rallied in the second half, boosted by a goal on a stroke, awarded due to a ball being kicked away from a vacant Indians goal mouth to Brooke Sabia then snagged the lead at 3-2, when Sabia assisted her sister Allie on a tally from 10-feet out.
The Indians relentless defensive pressure forced the Magic to continue to execute on offense as well left no room for a let up in their own end as Mount held a 7-2 penalty corner edge in the second half and overtime.
As time was dwindling away and Unionville’s title hopes along with it, a sensational play by Donovan and freshman Izzy McDonough forced Mount to make one their few mistakes made in the second half giving the Indians their first corner chance since prior to the intermission.
“Sam is just a brick wall back there,” said McDonough. “This is so exciting and I can’t wait for Saturday. I think we all are so confident that some one is going to step up each game; we pick each other up and never let anyone get down even if they make a mistake. It’ something special to part of this team, we have come so far and aren’t done yet.”
Unionville capitalized on their corner opportunity when McDonough battled for the ball and slipped a shot toward the Mount net, following a sliding save Hansen was quick to pounce depositing the rebound into the twine knotting the game with 1:38 left in regulation.
“This is just unbelievable,” said Carlino. “When it got down to strokes, as soon as I see any kind of first move, I go right at it aggressively and was able to get my blocker on them. Having the game on your shoulders like that really gets the adrenaline going.”
The Indians will battle the Pac-10 champion Wildcats Saturday at 5:30 at Wissahickon High School for the District One championship and the number one seed heading into the PIAA State tournament next week.
Unionville 2 1 0 0 (3) -4
Mount St. Joes 1 2 0 0 (0) -3