Oct. 3, 2007

Valkyries look like champions at Ballard


Nevermind that many eyes in the local field hockey community were focused on this Apple Tournament championship rematch, played under the lights on Tuesday night in the penultimate week of the regular season with the state tournament right around the corner.

Just a glance at Sacred Heart’s tailgate party in a parking lot overlooking Ballard’s Chilton Field told Bruins coach Kelly Logsdon - herself a former Valkyrie - that this was no ordinary game for the defending state champions.

“They treated it like a state final,” she said.

Sacred Heart's Hannah English

Whether or not that was true, even Sacred Heart coach Liz Lewis had to admit that her team’s impressive 4-1 victory over the Bruins - and its 47th straight win since 2005 - was a statement.

“It needed to be,” she said. “We talked about that. I feel like we haven’t reached our potential yet, but we’re getting closer. And this was a big test.”

In the Apple Tournament final on Aug. 18, Ballard (14-4) did two things that no other team has managed to do against Sacred Heart (19-0) this season: lose by only one goal and allow only one goal. The Valkyries have outscored all other comers 100-12.

But the Bruins, at a 19-5 disadvantage in penalty corners and a 10-2 disadvantage in shots on goal in that game, had to throw sand bags on top of the flood wall to keep Sacred Heart off the scoreboard for almost 45 minutes. They couldn’t pull it off again on Tuesday.

The Valkyries deluged Ballard’s circle early, earning seven corners and launching eight shots at junior goalie Lara Williams in the opening 15 minutes. When senior Hannah English (pictured at right) scored on a corner in the 16th minute, the wall had been breached.

Junior Kristen Henn punched a rebounded shot past Williams in the 23rd minute, and junior Maddie Cristofoli did the same on a three-on-one breakaway in the 29th minute.

After one of the most lopsided halves possible in such a game, Sacred Heart had a 10-2 advantage in corners, a 15-1 advantage in shots on goal and a 3-0 lead.

“We put the pressure on right away,” English said. “We knew that if we could come out and score early, we could keep scoring and scoring.”

Only Williams, who made 12 saves in the first half and 20 overall, kept the Valkyries from scoring and scoring even more.

“We could have had the mercy rule if not for her,” Logsdon said. “If anyone deserves credit, it’s her for sure.”

Ballard finally broke the calm around Sacred Heart senior goalie Meredith Golden in the middle of the second half, and senior Amanda Seeley scored in a scrum with 17:37 left.

That momentum shift didn’t sit well with Lewis, who called a timeout and berated her players immediately after the goal.

“We had a 3-0 lead, and I think it’s human nature to let down a little,” she said. “We warned them about it at halftime, and Ballard took advantage of it. But once we make adjustments and communicate our wishes to them, they respond.”

The Valkyries didn’t have to be told again. They regained control and eventually finished off the Bruins when junior Jessica Lindner took a pass from classmate Olivia Miller on a breakaway and scored her team-leading 19th goal of the season with 4:31 left.

“When she pulls us off the field and yells at us, it pumps us up and makes us want to show that we can play better,” Sacred Heart senior Devanny Kuhn said.

Golden benefited from the Sacred Heart defense’s typically good protection but still made six saves, mostly in flurries.

“Meredith did a fabulous job in the cage,” Lewis said. “She stopped several tough shots.”

The Valkyries finished with 17 corners to Ballard’s three and out-shot the Bruins 24-7.

“They wanted it more than we did,” Logsdon concluded. “At this point in the season, when there are so many teams that are competitive, whoever steps on the field and wants it more is going to win.”