NEWTOWN SQUARE, PA – Cold temperatures and blustery winds did not sway away the intense competition of this year’s EA/AIS/Haverford day. The two-day series of sporting events, which began on Friday, Nov. 8, concluded with the Episcopal Academy Churchwomen winning the “banner,” and the Churchmen walking off of the field with the coveted “split sweater.”
The girls’ competition day began with tennis at 12:30 p.m. in which the Churchwomen won 5-2. Episcopal Academy was also victorious in cross-country coming away with a 20-37 meet score.
At 1:30 p.m. the Agnes Irwin took the field in what would be the Owls lone victory of the day. Senior Natalie Pansini, who is committed to play lacrosse at Princeton, scored for the Owls at the 13-minute-mark in the first half to give Agnes Irwin a 1-0 edge over Episcopal. Turns out, that would be the only push the Irwins would need to secure a 1-0 victory in the contest.
A FinEAl Farewell…
Arguably the most anticipated contest of the opening day of events was the 2:45 p.m. field hockey game.
Episcopal Academy defeated Agnes Irwin 5-1 to end the day, securing the banner.
However, the final game of the day meant more than just a final score on the board. This game marked the final home victory for Episcopal Academy head coach, Gina Buggy, whom after serving 34 years as head coach and athletic director will be retiring at the end of the school year. After the game when asked what Buggy will miss the most, her response was simple and sincere.
“The kids, and the people,” said Buggy. “The joy of the kids getting to know what it means to work hard together towards common goals. When you see that, it’s the coolest thing ever.”
Episcopal put on a dominant display of play in front of the home crowd by scoring four goals in the first half.
Junior midfielder Kelly Smith started off the scoring barrage with a goal early, followed by a goal from senior forward Jackie Miller, with an assist from sophomore Macy Szukics. Then sophomore Ashley Sessa scored two back-to-back goals, giving EA a comfortable 4-0 lead at the end of the half.
“(Knowing I helped the team win) meant a lot to me because it’s not just one person on the team, its everyone and once one person scores the energy becomes so fun,” said Sessa, who has committed to play at the University of North Carolina.
Although the first half did not go their way, Agnus Irwin played with urgency in the second half, creating chances and eventually being rewarded with an electric goal from Avery Medland. Unfortunately, it was not enough, and EA responded with a goal of its own off the stick of Szukics to solidify a 5-1 victory.
“We had a great second half going 1-1 with them (EA),” said Agnes Irwin head coach Morgan Paese following the game. “It is one of the steps forward going into next season.”
Coach Paese also talked about the Agnes Irwin’s youthful roster.
“We had five seniors graduating, but we have a really strong core, we have many freshman and sophomore starters who have this whole season under the belt as a group,” said Paese.
Day Two Commenced More Celebrating for the White & Blue…
The following morning Haverford School and Episcopal teed off at the Aronimink Golf Club. The Fords won its first contest of the day, defeating EA 148-152.
At the same time the boys’ were putting on the green, the Ford’s and Churchmen cross-country teams were racing through the woods. EA managed to come away with the first victory of the day finishing with a final collective score of 24-32. The Churchmen placed first, third, fifth, sixth and ninth to seal the victory.
Back in the pool at EA, the Churchmen and Fords put on an exciting water polo match for fans in attendance. The Fords dominated in the Burke Natatorium cruising to a 18-6 victory. With the victory, the Haverford School completed a 27-1 overall season record.
At 12:30 p.m., fans made their way to Alumni Field where the Churchmen and Fords battled it out in an intense soccer game. At this point in the day, The Churchmen had won cross country, but trailed Haverford in water polo and golf. In order to tie up the day before the football game, the Churchman needed to rally together to get a “W” on the field.
Just like the girls’ game the day before, it only took one goal to win the contest in a very defense dominant game. Senior Jackson Tuma scored for the Churchmen to tie up the day’s contests in the quest for the split sweater. Senior Clemson commit, Trevor Manion was credited with the shutout.
The day concluded on Smith Field for the highly anticipated football game. Not only would this game determine who would win the split sweater, but more importantly (for the football players specifically), the winner of this game would crown an outright 2019 Inter-Ac champion.
With electric senior quarterback Maurcus McDaniel leading the way in typical style, the Churchmen captured the Inter-Academic League championship by defeating Haverford School, 38-28.
During the two-plus hours that it took Episcopal (9-1 overall, 4-1 league) to clinch the school’s first Inter-Ac title since 2012, the Churchmen dominated.
McDaniel was sensational. Although his final numbers (24 carries, 121 yards, three touchdown runs; 9 of 12 passing, 145 yards) were gaudy, McDaniel’s leadership stood out from the time that he and his senior teammates were honored with a heartfelt ceremony before the game.
Although EA’s offensive line did excellent work throughout, helping junior Malcolm Folk collect 94 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, as well as senior Matt Bush adding 84 yards and a score on 15 rushes, McDaniel occasionally needed to display his frightening athleticism to escape the grasp or pursuit of Haverford’s frustrated defense.
Once the Churchmen seized a 21-7 lead in the second quarter, the ultimate victor seemed secure. Whenever Haverford senior quarterback Dante Perri (16 of 27, 304 yards, four touchdowns) kept the Fords (6-4, 3-2) within striking distance, McDaniel and Co. would engineer long scoring drives to eat clock.
When the final seconds dissipated, Episcopal’s student body left the stands and rumbled onto the field to celebrate with their gridiron giants.