HIGH SCHOOL FIELD HOCKEY

Oct. 20, 2007

Just like old times: Valkyries prevail in OT

Assumption pushes defending champions to brink; Ballard, KCD, Collegiate all win

By NATHAN CHAMBERS
BeyondTheDerby.com

Leaning on her knees near the outskirts of Assumption’s circle, Sacred Heart junior Olivia Miller looked like she had just run down the field twice on a sore knee after more than 65 minutes of hockey.

Sympathy was not forthcoming, however - not in this rivalry, not in the state quarterfinals, not in overtime.

“Suck it up,” she was told.

Only a minute later, she could let it all out anyway.

Miller’s goal with 3:17 left in the sudden-victory period salvaged Sacred Heart’s 15th busted penalty corner and freed the defending state champion Valkyries to celebrate a physically and emotionally exhausting 1-0 win over the Rockets at Ballard’s Chilton Field.

“You can’t give up,” Miller said. “You can’t give up on your teammates. You always have to push for that extra effort for them.”

Such effort, not only from Miller but from all involved, returned the most heated rivalry in Kentucky high school field hockey to its old form. Sacred Heart had outscored Assumption 8-2 in three previous games this season, a far cry from the one-goal margins, the overtimes, and the flick-offs of recent years.

“That’s right,” Assumption coach Debbie Judd said. “This is the state tournament, and this is the way it’s supposed to be. I just wish it turned out a little different.”

The Valkyries (24-0), who extended their winning streak to 52 games, will play Ballard (17-6) in a semifinal at the University of Louisville’s Trager Stadium at 5:30 p.m. on Monday. The host Bruins beat Mercy 2-0 on Saturday.

Kentucky Country Day (20-6-1) will play Collegiate (19-7) in the other semifinal at approximately 7 p.m. At KCD on Saturday, the Bearcats edged Christian Academy 2-1, and Collegiate blanked Manual 2-0.

Sacred Heart-Assumption

Miller and senior Devanny Kuhn caught Assumption senior goalie Jennifer McGill between a rock and a hard place on the decisive play.

With Miller dribbling toward one post and Kuhn positioned at the other, McGill moved to protect the former. But Miller heard Kuhn calling for the ball and shot it in her direction instead, hoping for a tip-in if she was off-target. She wasn’t, as she scored her 22nd goal of the season and her fifth in four games against the Rockets (18-7-2).

“She hit it right on an angle that I wasn’t covering,” said McGill, who made four saves. “It was a great shot.”

That shot was the product of another in a long line of inauspicious corners for the Valkyries, whose ineffectiveness in that phase “wouldn’t even be acceptable in practice,” Sacred Heart coach Liz Lewis said. “But whether it’s a busted play or not, you have to take advantage of what the defense gives you.”

No team does that better than the Valkyries, who only put five shots on goal but still won.

“This was a game that truly tested us,” Lewis said. “Assumption gave us everything they could give us. I’m just so excited and pleased for the kids that they could step up and finish.”

Judd was pleased, too, despite the outcome.

“The girls gave everything they had,” she said. “I’m proud of them. They came a long way.”

The Rockets, who clearly were outplayed in 3-1 losses to Sacred Heart in the Apple Tournament semifinals on Aug. 17 and in the Mug Game on Sept. 9, looked much better in a 2-0 loss in the final of the Chicago-area Huskie Invitational on Sept. 15.

Then, on Saturday, the Rockets jumped on the Valkyries in the first half, building a 7-3 advantage in corners. Sacred Heart turned the tables in the second half but couldn’t score.

“In Chicago, that should have been a little more of an eye-opener for them,” Judd said.

Assumption forced Sacred Heart senior goalie Meredith Golden to stop six shots.

“This was by far her biggest test,” Lewis said, “and I felt she really stepped up and made some great saves.”

But Kuhn kept the Valkyries in the game, particularly with her work in her own team’s circle.

“Dev was all over the field,” Lewis said. “This was one of her best games, I thought.”

Ballard-Mercy

The Bruins trailed 3-0 in the District 1 final on Wednesday when coach Kelly Logsdon called a timeout with a little less than five minutes to go in the first half.

She recalled that assistant coach Lindsay Jones told the players, “If you don’t score before halftime, the game is over.” The Bruins did score and rallied in the second half to force overtime before KCD pulled out a 4-3 win.

So, after watching her team outplay Mercy (22-6) but not score in the first half on Saturday, Logsdon threw the same challenge at her players with five minutes left.

“We dominated too much of the half for it not to show on the scoreboard,” she said.

Right on cue, senior Ali Pulliam scored her team-high 20th goal with 2:58 on the clock, giving Ballard a 1-0 lead.

Then, during the break, Logsdon pushed her luck and asked for another goal within the first five minutes of the second half. This time, a freshman - playing in just her fourth varsity game - made it happen. Caroline Downer, who scored three goals against Eastern in her varsity debut on Oct. 9, got her stick on junior Hannah Walter’s shot and redirected it past Mercy senior goalie Katie Spradlin (5 saves) for a 2-0 lead.

“(Downer) is really good at adjusting to where the ball is,” Logsdon said. “She’s always in the right position.”

The Bruins, who lost to Mercy 3-2 in a flick-off on Sept. 6, had a 9-3 advantage in corners and a 7-4 advantage in shots on goal, and junior goalie Lara Williams had to make only four saves for the shutout.

“We controlled the game,” Logsdon said. “I thought that the team that gets to the 50-50 balls was going to win, and that’s what we did.”

But she didn’t expect that she would be able to pull some of her starters and get all of her seniors on the field with five minutes still to play.

“That’s the strongest Mercy team I’ve seen since I’ve been coaching,” she said. “We lost to them in strokes, so I knew it would be a close game. But I’m a bit surprised; they seemed to come out a little flat.”

“They outplayed us today,” Mercy coach Kelly Setser said. “I don’t think it was for a lack of effort. We just didn’t execute.”

KCD-Christian Academy

The Bearcats, who led 2-0 at halftime, appeared well on their way to a win similar to their 5-2 victory over Christian Academy on Sept. 11.

But the Centurions (16-12) rallied in the second half, earning seven corners to KCD’s three, and Karli Neutz scored in the 21st minute.

“They were a different team in the second half,” KCD coach Amy Charasika said. “They came out like the team that beat Mercy (1-0 on Oct. 4) and Ballard (2-1 on Oct. 8). We’re still working on being a second-half team.”

But KCD’s offense was hampered when senior Maggie Flowers left with inflamed shin splints shortly after the team’s second goal.

“Hopefully, she’ll be ready to go on Monday,” Charasika said.

Freshman Paige Henry and senior Christena Burell each scored for the Bearcats. Burell leads the state with 31 goals.

Collegiate-Manual

Collegiate coach Wendy Martin wasn’t sure how her team would respond in its first game since a 2-0 upset win over Assumption in the District 3 final on Wednesday, not to mention the fact that the Amazons lost to Manual 2-0 on Aug. 21.

As it turned out, she had little need to be concerned.

“It’s really hard to come off an emotional win and play emotional hockey again so soon,” she said. “It wasn’t as pretty and sharp and crisp, but we did what we needed to do and gutted it out.”

Collegiate, which has won nine games in a row, scored a goal in each half and limited the Crimsons (11-15-2) to three shots on goal.

“Our defense came up big,” Martin said. “They did a nice job.”

So did the makeshift front line of sophomores Lauren Boone, Carol James and Montrice Scott, who entered the game late in the first half when Martin decided to pull all of the starting forwards except sophomore Taylor Hodge.

“We weren’t putting enough pressure on Manual, and I wanted to talk to them about it,” Martin said.

Boone then assisted Scott on Collegiate’s first goal.

Senior Anouk Westerveld made it 2-0 in the middle of the first half when she lifted a rebounded shot into the cage off a corner.