Photos/Video Highlights: Lennie Malmgren
SPRINGFIELD, PA – In the Philadelphia Catholic League, Archbishop Carroll and Cardinal O’Hara have long been perennial contenders. During the regular season, O’Hara finished with an unblemished 8-0 record without giving up a single goal to its PCL opponents. Carroll finished in similar fashion, only losing one game to the Lions, giving up a single goal in overtime.
The two teams met in the Philadelphia Catholic League championship on Oct. 27 in which senior Courtland Schumacher scored the sole goal of the game in the opening five minutes to crown the Patriots PCL champions.
The two teams boast an immense amount of speed and agility on offense and stingy defenses that create frustration to the opposition. Unfortunately, both Carroll and O’Hara were met by two teams in the first round of the PIAA state tournament that also brandished similar skillsets.
On Tuesday afternoon, Cardinal O’Hara High School served as the backdrop for a set of PIAA 2A and 3A contests. Archbishop Carroll took to the field at 1:00 p.m. and faced a well-coached Mechanicsburg team, ultimately falling 5-1.
In the opening five minutes, Mechanicsburg senior Lauren Mark scored on a corner off an assist from Sydney Aylward to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead. Midfielder Anne Manning scored again to close the first period, with Aylward providing another assist. The Wildcats, who notched a program record of 18 wins after the contest, entered the half with a 3-0 lead. Mechanicsburg junior Alana Shimp provided the third goal.
The physicality of this game could be seen on both sides of the field. Carroll junior Sienna Golden, who is committed to Ohio State, was pushing the Wildcats defense to try and create opportunities for her team to score.
“They (Mechanicsburg) started giving our team a lot of body first, so we obviously couldn’t let them push us around. So, I tried to be physical back to give them a taste of their own medicine,” said Golden. “At the same time, there is a fellow Ohio State commit (Cam Standish) on their team that I’m going to be playing with in two years. So it was kind of like a future family member that I wanted to play well (in front of) and be a good role model.”
After the half, the Wildcats continued to demonstrate their offensive power. Manning added her second goal of the first-round playoffs, with teammate Gracyn Catalano providing the assist. Catalano then notched a goal of her own seven minutes later to score her team’s fifth and final goal.
Carroll senior and Sacred Heart commit, Cate McConaghy, provided her team some spark at the end of the third period. It was a full team effort as Schumacher passed the ball to Golden who then delivered the assist to McConaghy, giving the Patriots their sole goal of the contest.
“All of us put our hearts out there today,” said McConaghy. “We didn’t want to lose our first state’s game. But I had a fun time playing with everyone the past four years and I’m going to miss it a lot.”
Wilson High School provided a carbon copy game, which saw the Cardinal O’Hara Lions fall 4-0 in the ensuing PIAA 3A first round contest.
The Bulldogs entered the game with a 17-2-1 record and immediately began to pressure O’Hara’s back line. Senior Erika Culp scored Wilson’s first goal off a pass from senior-mid Catherine Arentz approximately five minutes into the first quarter.
“I just took my space and I kept dribbling. As soon as I saw their (O’Hara’s) defender a little bit behind me, I took the shot and it went in from there,” said Culp, who is committed to play at Saint Joseph’s University next season.
Unfortunately for the Lions, the Bulldog’s offense was just getting started. With 5 minutes remaining in the second quarter, Culp assisted senior Grace Chisholm off a corner, giving Wilson a 2-0 lead at the half.
The Lions came out of the brief intermission with added intensity but could not find an open opportunity in front of the cage. Instead, an ensuing O’Hara penalty resulted in an unassisted goal from senior Emma Staron off a penalty shot. Culp would add her second goal of the afternoon, off an assist from freshman Macy Adams, officially ending Wilson’s scoring in the fourth quarter, leaving the Lion’s home turf with a 4-0 victory.
Wilson senior forward-midfielder Sydney Stuhl’s dexterous stick handling provided many stoppages, limiting O’Hara’s numerous attempts to move up the field. Her swiftness propelled her team down the sidelines and enabled the Bulldogs to excel on their offensive possessions. Stuhl gave proper credit to Wilson goalkeeper Catherine Wolf, who played like a veteran notching 10 saves despite only being a sophomore.
“It’s her (Wolf’s) first season starting at varsity,” said Stuhl. “She played great. She’s always looking to come for the ball right away, she’s always listening to the defense and she’s always stepping as hard as she can to clear the ball out wide. She’s been stepping up and playing really well for us.”
O’Hara senior defensive-mid Sofia Brown said the win was in grasp, but there were too many missed opportunities.
“I think we dominated most of the game, especially in the second half. We just couldn’t capitalize in our circle. We had many opportunities and when they (Wilson) got into our circle they capitalized more than we did,” said Brown.
This game marked the last time Brown and fellow senior Maeve Boston would play together on their home turf. Next year, Brown will be heading to play at West Chester University while Boston will be playing at Villanova University. The duo fought for every possession, tried to make some magic in the second half and ultimately left everything they had on the field.
“Sofia and I have been playing together since fourth grade, so we work well together. We tried to capitalize, unfortunately sometimes it doesn’t always happen,” said Boston. “Everyone did well on the team today. I think this was one of our best games we played. Wilson was a strong team. They played a good passing game, so I think we kind of were tired out from how they kept going back and forth using their transfers well.”
Looking ahead: Tomorrow, Mechanicsburg will play Crestwood at Governor Mifflin HS at 1 p.m. in the PIAA 2A quarterfinals while Wilson is slated to take on Downingtown West at Methacton HS in the PIAA 3A quarterfinals at 3:30 p.m.