VILLANOVA, PA –The Episcopal Academy Churchwomen are heading to the PAISAA championship this Tuesday after defeating the Academy of Notre Dame 1-0 this past Wednesday on the Irish’s home turf.
"It was a hard-fought game. Notre Dame played very well. They possessed the ball very nicely and had some dangerous corner opportunities,” said EA head coach Gina Buggy. “Our defense was steady and strong, and our goalie played outstanding. Fortunately, we were able to capitalize on a beautiful goal."
That "beautiful" goal Buggy is referring to came off the stick of freshman Duke University commit, Macy Szukics, in the second half of the contest.
“We earned a corner. Coach Buggy called the play. As one of our team’s inserters, I inserted the ball to Kelly Smith and I went to play the post. Kelly received the ball and sent a hard hit on goal. The ball deflected off of a Notre Dame player’s stick and was coming towards me. As the Notre Dame goalie dove for the ball, I swept the ball in goal.
“I was super excited for our team when we scored. We were all excited, jumping and cheering. We were still 0-0 at that point in the second half so it was still anyone’s game. Corners are a true team effort and against a skilled team like Notre Dame, we didn’t have many opportunities to convert corners, so we needed to make our corners count. While we were excited, we also knew we needed to gain our composure quickly, try to score again and hold our lead with strong defense. Caroline (Kelly), Lauren (Devletian), and Sofia (Acosta) were amazing," said Szukics.
The defensive duo of EA senior Lauren Devletian (Dartmouth) and sophomore Sofia Acosta were able to shut down Notre Dame’s offensive attack, with Devletian making three defensive saves for the Churchwomen.
EA senior goalkeeper Caroline Kelly (Boston Univ.) tallied 25 saves during the game, while sophomore Paige Kieft recorded four saves for Notre Dame.
The Irish concluded their season with an overall record of 18-3-1 (8-2 Inter-Ac), having notable victories against Penn Manor, Villa Maria, Mount St. Joseph’s and Downingtown West.
Episcopal will take the field at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at Bryn Mawr College against No. 1 seed Germantown Academy. During their first meeting of the season, EA and GA tied 2-2 and in their second game, the Lady Patriots came away with a 3-1 victory. In order to come away with the PAISAA championship, Szukics explained that her team needs to remain motived throughout the entire game and continue a strong defensive front.
“To win PAISAA, we need to be focused on our roles and play smart and aggressive hockey. We really need to keep it simple,” said Szukics. “We’ve worked hard all season building our teamwork. We need to trust one another, use one another, have a strong passing game, and play great defense. If we bring everything together that Coach Buggy has taught us all season, we can win the PAISAA championship.”