October 24th, 2011
Manual Upends Mercy With Second Half Rally
Mercy falls short for second year in a row in field hockey semis
The Mercy Academy Jaguars put the first point on the scoreboard against the DuPont Manual Crismons in a state field hockey semifinal game Monday evening at Owsley B. Frazier Stadium on the Bellarmine University campus, but they couldn’t make that goal hold up as they bowed out of the postseason with a 2-1 loss at the hands of the Lady Crimsons.
The Jaguars lost in the state semifinals last year by a 1-0 score to Assumption. And this year’s game was pretty much déjà vu all over again featuring an incredible defensive effort from the Jags with just not enough offense.
“I couldn’t have asked any more from my defense,” said Mercy coach Brittany Johnson. “They met the challenge tonight. Even though the scoreboard doesn’t reflect it, they hung tough. It’s hard when you have that much pressure in your circle for that much time. I’m so proud of these girls.”
Manual enjoyed the run of play right from the start, earning three penalty corners early in the game and nearly scoring on two occasions. But the Mercy defense, strong all evening, repelled those initial attacks and countered with one of their own.
Earning their first penalty corner at the 18:45 mark of the first half, the Jaguars’ junior midfielder Kathryn Schneidtmiller controlled the corner flick and hit a rocket shot past the Manual goalie for an improbable 1-0 lead.
“It was a great goal,” said Johnson, tearing up as she could hear some sighs and gasps from her team just a few feet away. “She plays the center of the field for a reason. I ask a lot of her and she always exceeds my expectations. She’s an amazing player and I’m excited to have her coming back next year. It was hard to hold that lead with that much pressure they put on us.”
Mercy’s junior goalie Jessica Wilson kept Manual off the scoreboard with a few key saves as she was supported by a strong team defensive effort all night long. Peppered with shot after shot and one penalty corner after another—Manual earned 14 on the evening—Wilson maintained her composure and kept her team in the game.
“She earned her spot because of the way she plays under pressure,” said Johnson. “Very proud of how she stepped up. We told her she had to be fast on her feet whether on the ground or up tall and that’s why she was in the cage.”
That defensive strategy worked very well for the Jaguars until a penalty stroke was awarded Manual with just over twenty minutes remaining in the second half. Manual’s junior midfielder Kelsi White calmly plunked it by a sprawling Wilson to tie the score at 1-1.
The Manual attack earned seven penalty corners in the first 10 minutes of the second half. While White’s score leveled the game, Manual was the clear aggressor in the match. Three minutes after that first goal, sophomore forward Hayley Barker collected a beautiful pass from sophomore teammate Anna DuFour and knocked in the game winning goal with 17:10 remaining in the game.
DuFour was consistently wreaking havoc down the right side of the field, causing problems all night for the Mercy defense. And while the Jaguars were trying everything to gain possession and mount a sustained attack, they couldn’t provide that finishing touch in the offensive circle.
“We return a lot of great juniors, so we will look to go one step further and get to the state championship,” said Johnson. “I told them at halftime that one was not enough and if they wanted to be the first Mercy team to play in a state championship game then you’d have to lay it all out. I look for them to take this loss, move forward and pick up where we left off.”
Manual will take on Sacred Heart Academy in the state championship game on Thursday night.