By: James Williamson
SPRINGFIELD, PA – 2020 has been a difficult year for almost everyone, but the girls of Cardinal O’Hara had something worth smiling over after securing their first win of the season, defeating rival Bonner-Prendergast 3-0. This match-up came just a few short months after it was looking like these girls wouldn’t have a season at all. Both teams are just thankful that they’ve been given the opportunity to play.
“We had big plans and great expectations for the ‘shortened season’ that we were given in late September. Unfortunately, before we even got started, we were shut down due to Covid protocol,” said Bonner-Prendergast head coach, Joanne Dolan. “Once we were back up & running, we knew we had to accelerate our practices and trainings we had for the 21-day season.”
“We’re taking every game and we’re appreciative of every game at this point,” said Cardinal O’Hara head coach, Jenna Spaeder. “We’re gonna keep playing hard and we’re going to keep playing until we can’t.”
With so much uncertainty surrounding the season, one might assume these girls would have a hard time focusing and getting ready for game day. However, both teams played with fire and intensity as if it were a playoff game on Tuesday afternoon.
“We get excited about every game. We’re treating it like every game’s our last. We’re excited to be playing,” said Spaeder. “We’re happy that the Archdiocese overruled their initial decision and we’re just happy that we’re playing.”
“This is an upside-down world right now, but me and my teammates are attempting to adjust the best we can and deal with the different expectations,” said Bonner-Prendergast’s senior captain, Reagan Dolan. “Every day we look forward to practice and on gamedays we can't wait to compete. We feel very fortunate just to be playing.”
These girls have learned to play for each other rather than the promise of hardware at the end of the season. They’re doing everything they can for their teammates who might not be here much longer. Nearly losing the season has given many players a sense of gratitude, specifically the seniors.
“It was kind of scary because, I mean, I love this team. I wish I could have more years here,” said Cardinal O’Hara senior captain, Emma Shallow. “I was definitely nervous that we weren't going to have it, kinda like off and on, but I’m really happy that we’ve gotten to play.”
“In the 3 games we have played this year, my senior players have given their best efforts. They know that at any moment it could be all over, so they are enjoying playing together and being with their teammates,” said coach Dolan. “The season has been fluid with so many changes and updates and I am proud of how my seniors have embraced the opportunity to play this fall.”
Even in such a strange year, no one ever wants to lose to their rival. Both teams played hard, constantly fighting for the ball and limiting the other team’s opportunities on offense. The first half came to a close with a scoreless tie.
While both teams would continue to battle in the second half, Prendie gave O’Hara too many opportunities on penalties. With 4:14 remaining in the third quarter, O’Hara’s Mia Scarduzio managed to find the back of the net after a Prendie penalty to give the Lions the 1-0 lead. It took some time, but O’Hara’s goalkeeper, Gianna Travia, knew her offense would eventually come through.
“I was waiting the whole first half for the offense to score, but I knew it would happen,” said Travia. “When it went in, it made me feel much more comfortable about the outcome of the game.”
Scarduzio would go on to score again in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter to put O’Hara up 3-0 to seal their victory. Maeve Boston was responsible for O’Hara’s second goal of the game. After dropping their first game of the season against Archbishop Carroll, Travia was glad she had the opportunity to help pick up the win.
“It felt pretty great to get the win,” said Travia. “I felt pretty good about this game all week and I feel like I was able to redeem myself after the Carroll game. So, it was nice to have a good, clean game.”
After the shutout loss, Prendie’s coach Dolan thought her team left a bit on the field. Poor ball movement gave Dolan’s team trouble on offense for most of the afternoon.
“We struggled to make something happen on offense with our lack of ball movement to either an open player or an open space,” said coach Dolan. “If we capitalized on offensive opportunities in quickly moving the ball, we could have generated some more offense.”
Seniors captains from both teams had encouraging words to share after the game. O’Hara’s Shallow spoke about how her outlook on the season has changed over the course of the year.
“I think in the beginning of all this, we were really devastated that we couldn’t have our season and now we have the opportunity to play. We just see it as go into every game and give it your all,” said Shallow. “This is my senior year and I want to give my all no matter what kind of season it is.”
Prendie’s Reagan Dolan shared some words of advice for her underclassmen teammates. Since this is her last season with the team, she wants her teammates to enjoy every moment they can with their team.
“First thing is, don't look back and have regrets,” said Dolan. “Simply do the best you can do at any given moment in each practice and each game. Expect more of yourself and from yourself. Enjoy and embrace every minute of every day that you get to play Prendie field hockey.”