CONSHOHOCKEN – A special era for Episcopal Academy (EA) field hockey has ended, but it ended in a big way as the Churchwomen won their second straight PAISAA championship in a thrilling 4-3 contest against Hill School on Tuesday.
This game also marked the last game for legendary head coach Gina Buggy. Buggy, who also serves as the school’s athletic director announced that she will be retiring at the end of the school year. Buggy has been at the helm of the field hockey program for more than 34 years and as athletic director for 28. She has coached 586 games and closes out her amazing career with a 479-07-1 record.
“I feel so proud of my girls with the way they worked hard together,” said Buggy after the win. “It’s exhilarating in hind sight but I was nervous heading into this game because you want to go out winning for the kids.”
The Rams scored first within 10 minutes of the game. EA sophomore midfielder Ashley Sessa, (Univ. of North Carolina commit), answered back with a lone goal right to the back of the Hill’s net. The Rams scored again but Sessa answered back once more on a corner to tie the score 2-2 going into the half.
With the game tied at halftime, senior captain Louisa Baxter, a Georgetown University commit, explained the message from Buggy during the break to get ahead in the game.
“She always emphasized on working together and she told us that this game is not going to work unless we use each other,” said Baxter. “We just go after it as a team and keep our composure using the skills that we built throughout the season.”
With that, EA took a commanding 4-2 lead quickly in the second half . The first goal came a little more than a minute into the second stanza from senior forward Jackie Miller with a Sessa assist. About six minutes later, Miller scored again off of a pass from senior Laura Null.
The Hill School eventually cut the deficit down to one with a goal from Kennedy Cliggett, but the Churchwomen’s defense managed to keep their lead intact to take home their 2nd consecutive PAISAA Championships.
Leading EA’s defense was sophomore goalkeeper Gianna Cilluffo with 4 saves on the day.
EA senior captain Kathleen Anderson, who will be playing for Cornell University next Fall, was thrilled to end her and Buggy’s career with a state championship.
“It’s a great testament to all the work she’s (Buggy) put in and what we put into the team this season and how much we’ve been focusing on the team than just building up as individuals,” said Anderson.
What a win for Buggy, who was also celebrating her birthday the same day.
Sophomore Macy Szukics, (Duke Univ. commit), was thrilled for her team to get the win for her coach.
“We’re all so happy and grateful for her and all the advice she has given us,” said Szukics. “We’re hopeful that we can continue to keep doing this and keep winning."
Buggy offered some sound advice for the team going into next season.
“My message is you’re always going to be better as a group than you are as an individual,” said Buggy. “And if you can sacrifice your own glory for what’s best for our team, it’s going to be a super good team for years to come.
When asked if she had a few coaching years left in her, Buggy had a appropriate response.
“I got one or two years left to watch them grow and excel,” said Buggy. “I know they will do that.”
On October 29th, EA won its 13th Inter-Ac Title under the leadership of Buggy.
The Episcopal Academy field hockey squad finished the 2019 season with an overall record of 20-1-1 and a 9-0-1 league record.
Congratulations to Episcopal Academy head coach Gina Buggy on an outstanding coaching career!