AIS/EA DAY: Episcopal Academy Retains the Banner for Another Year. (Photo by Lennie Malmgren for PSD)
By: Josh Abrams
(Photos: Zamani Feelings & Lennie Malmgren)
Bryn Mawr, PA – So many days seem to accumulate within a given school year, and normally it tends to breeze by a lot faster than we might realize.
But ask any individual involved with either The Agnes Irwin School (AIS) or The Episcopal Academy (EA), there is one day in particular when students, parents, friends and family all truly “get up”. A day truly dedicated to sportsmanship, friendly competition and of course the "Banner"
“I’ve been here since (I was in) pre-k,” said EA senior Paige McMeekin, who helped lead her field hockey squad to a thrilling 2-1 victory on AIS/EA day. “I remember watching all of the seniors play in this game, and storming the field, so it meant a lot to see all the little kids running around because I remember when I was that little.”
The game in which McMeekin and her team emerged victorious capped off quite the memorable day for Episcopal, who was the visiting team as Agnes Irwin hosted the 28th annual AIS/EA Day.
EA took home the overall competition and claimed the coveted "Banner" after completing a clean sweep (4-0) in cross country, soccer and field hockey. Tennis was postponed to this past Monday due to wet court conditions that could not dry up in time. EA won that match 6-1, which was also the PAISAA (Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association) tennis semifinal. EA ended the day with wins in all three singles matches and three of the four doubles contests and completed their season with a 12-0 league record and as Inter- Ac Champions.
Before field hockey got underway, a highly-anticipated girls soccer matchup commenced on the campus of Agnes Irwin. This battle between two of the top-three teams in the Inter-Ac lived up to the hype and had many exciting moments from start to finish. After trading handfuls of offensive opportunities, it was the home team who got the scoring started when AIS senior captain Payton Quinones found the back of the net to put the Owls in front in the first half, 1-0.
That score would hold going into halftime, but Episcopal Academy senior Natalie Magnotta was determined to light a spark for her team. The leader detailed how she and her teammates were able to overcome the deficit they had been facing for seemingly all game.
“Our halftime speech, it’s mostly just the girls talking and motivating each other,” said Magnotta. “We knew that we were the better team, we knew that what we had to do (in the second half) was come out strong… and if we play like we’re supposed to, feed off the energy of the day, we could get a couple goals.”
With just under 15 minutes showing in regulation, EA forced a corner kick to the left of the net. The ball bounced off a couple of Owl defenders, and caromed over to Magnotta who fired it past the AIS goalkeeper. From that point, the momentum began to shift in favor of the Churchwomen, even as the final regulation buzzer sounded.
As the minutes in the first overtime period started to fizzle, Episcopal junior Quinn Whitaker sealed the win for the Owls. EA was attacking from the right side, but when the ball was centered, Whitaker came almost out of nowhere and used a running start to force the ball into the net.
“We just knew that, on this day, anything could happen,” Whitaker said. “There’s just so much energy, and the atmosphere is crazy, so we just really tried to keep up the pressure in the second half because we knew we could get goals and win the game.”
The win moved EA to 18-2-1 overall ending their season with a near-perfect Inter-Ac record of 11-0-1 and as Inter-Ac Champions. AIS ended their season with an overall record at 10-4-1, their conference mark at 8-3-1.
Once soccer concluded, the field hockey units took the same turf for the final competition of the day. The results could not have been any more similar: Episcopal prevailed over AIS by a score of 2-1 after trailing going into halftime. Goals from juniors Maura Irish and Victoria Lynn helped lift EA over the hosts and secure a 3-0 sweep of the three sports that took place that day.
It was all AIS from the start; a goal from senior Catherine Sharkey late in the first quarter put the Owls in front and they would hold that momentum as both teams rested up at half.
EA got off to yet another slow start, this time with the sticks instead of the feet, but through their resiliency and guidance of head coach Paul Zelenak, they knew a 1-0 deficit would not drag them down entirely.
“He said there is more time in the game and that we are better than this,” Lynn expressed about Zelenak. “We know that we can come back and we just had to today.”
Luckily for the visitors, they used a strong second half to erase the early obstacle. Lynn put EA on the board early in the third quarter after she stayed with a mad scramble in front of the AIS goal and successfully made enough contact with the ball to get it to the back of the net. The score was knotted at one goal apiece and, much like the soccer game before, momentum was starting to swing in favor of the Churchwomen once again.
But Irish came through in the clutch; with less than four minutes remaining in the fourth and final quarter, she got a shot to weave through traffic and to the back of the net. The tally broke a tie that lasted over 20 minutes of game time and gave EA a lead they would not lose.
“We’ve been in this situation before,” the junior said. “(Coach told us to) keep our composure and have that resiliency to pull it out in the end.”
The win for EA improves their overall mark to 13-11 and Inter-Ac record, 7-3, posting second in the conference. For Agnes Irwin, their overall record sits at 13-8-1, while their 5-4-1 record in conference play puts them at third place in the Inter-Ac.
The rivalry weekend will return to Episcopal Academy in November of 2024 with the "Banner" once again up for the taking.
Tag(s): Home Schools Inter Academic League Soccer Cross Country Cross Country- Girls Inter-Ac Agnes Irwin Cross Country Episcopla Acad Girls XC Tennis-Girls Inter-Ac Agnes Irwin School Tennis Episcopal Acad Girls Tennis Girls Soccer Inter-Ac Agnes Irwin Soccer Episcopal Acad Girls Soccer Field Hockey