HIGH SCHOOL FIELD HOCKEY

September 19, 2007

Unbeaten Valkyries rebuff another upset bid

By NATHAN CHAMBERS
BeyondTheDerby.com

Every team wants to throw its best punches at Sacred Heart these days. But few, if any, actually leave the field convinced that those punches were delivered.

Mercy became the latest such team on Tuesday, when the defending state champion Valkyries fended off the Jaguars in a 2-0 win at Horton Field.

Mercy (13-3) entered the game with the second-best record in Kentucky but exited as Sacred Heart’s 44th consecutive victim.

“We definitely could have played a lot better,” Mercy senior Alli Flood said. “We just didn’t play our game.”

Mercy coach Kelly Setser agreed. “We didn’t do the things that we can do.”

But the Valkyries (16-0), who were coming off five wins in two days at the Huskie Invitational in Oak Park, Ill., over the weekend, were no more impressed with their own play on Tuesday.

“I think we were very sluggish,” Sacred Heart coach Liz Lewis said.

The Valkyries dominated the first half, accumulating nine penalty corners while holding Mercy without one, but led just 1-0 at the intermission. The Jaguars didn’t even put a shot on Sacred Heart’s goalie, senior Meredith Golden (1 save), in the half.

Junior Olivia Miller scored on a broken corner, with an assist from senior Hannah English, for the halftime lead.

“They pretty much had their whole team in the circle when we were down there,” Lewis said. “They just kept a couple back. So it was very congested, very difficult to maneuver.”

The Jaguars played better early in the second half, but Sacred Heart kept them out of the cage. English then scored on a corner with 18:26 left, when she took junior Kristen Henn’s insertion pass and drove the ball past Mercy senior goalie Katie Spradlin (12 saves).

Mercy finished with two corners to Sacred Heart’s 16.

“We didn’t get as many opportunities as we’d like to have,” Setser said. “The ones we did get, we didn’t capitalize on them.”

The Valkyries now have defeated Ballard (1-0 on Aug. 18), Assumption (3-1 on Aug. 17, 3-1 on Sept. 9, 2-0 on Saturday), Kentucky Country Day (3-1 on Aug. 21), and all other comers this season.

“We believe we can (win),” Setser said.