October 25th, 2016

Rockets take down Valkyries in OT

Block_eric thorne

Eric Thorne

Staff Writer

Rockets take down Valkyries in OT
Erica Cooper gets mobbed after the game / photo by Eric Thorne

Erica Cooper and Camryn Pichea tried to talk their coaches into switching the two midfielders heading to overtime of the KHSAA field hockey semifinals Monday at Bellarmine’s Frazier Stadium. It’s a good thing the coaches didn’t listen.

Instead Pichea stayed in her left spot and fed Cooper to the right and the junior sent a shot past goalkeeper Meghan Strite at the 1:27 mark giving the Rockets a 1-0 victory over Sacred Heart

“I’m shaking right now I’m so excited and can’t believe this,” Cooper said. “We went to (assistant) coach Tom (Hobbs) and wanted to swap and he said no stay where you are. We came back out and said 'Ok, that’s fine.' I stayed positive, believed and put it in in the net.”

“He said Cam would drive down, draw the defense and they will leave you with a wide open shot, and he was right. I felt good about it. Wound up and ripped it.”

The two nationally ranked teams, Assumption is ranked No. 11 and Sacred Heart No. 14 in the maxfieldhockey.com, dueled to a scoreless tie through regulation as shots were tough to come by for both squads.

In the extra period Assumption went right on the offensive and patiently waited for someone to find an open shot.

“We have a lot of people who can score and we don’t count on just one,” Assumption coach Debbie Judd said. “That makes us very balanced. We had a plan and it worked, but it could have been any one of several to take the shot.”

Turns out it was Cooper sprinting down the right side and taking the pass from Pichea.

For Sacred Heart goalkeeper Meghan Strite there was little she could do to stop Cooper.

“It’s hard because we’re are both such strong teams and when you have to go 7 on 7 in the overtime it’s very hectic,” Strite said. “People who prosper in 7 on 7 are those who can control the craziness and Assumption did a better job of that. We got mixed up a little at the end and Erica Cooper got a great shot past me. It happens.”

The senior goal keeper will now take her cage minding talents to Missouri State University next year.

“We struggled to put it in the cage for sure,” Strite said. “It doesn’t always just go your way. These past four years have been amazing, and I wouldn’t change a thing about them. I’m excited for what the future holds for Sacred Heart.”

Defense was the key early on as play centered at mid-field as both squads utilized their speed to keep offensive opportunities to a minimum.

Sacred Heart nearly scored with 17:55 left in the first half when Tori Hill weaved her way toward Wuest, but was unable to put it past her as Wuest stretched wide to deflect the shot.

“We’re known as a second half team and that’s when we seem to really get into our game mode of we know this, we got this, we’ve pushed ourselves all season so let’s go get it,” Cooper said. “In overtime it’s who plays offense and who plays defense better. If you don’t play hard on offense you can’t score and if you don’t play tight defense you can’t keep them out. It’s simple but true.”

A minute later Wuest leapt high off a penalty corner to knock down a shot by Mary Kate Kessler.

“Shelby saved our butts so many times out there tonight,” Judd said. “A great, great game by her.”

Assumption was unable to get anything deep in SHA territory until consecutive late half corners but Strite was up the challenge halting a point blank shot by Chloe Fox before Cooper followed with a pair of shots. However, the Rockets but could not capitalize.

The second half was much the same and Assumption had a golden opportunity with Hill and Anna Laveck serving penalties at the same time with just under 10 minutes left, but the Rocket offense could only get off one shot.

However, the Assumption defense was stingy on allowing any Valkyrie offensive threats.

“I just didn’t want them to get it in the circle and our defense did a great job of that and made my job much easier,” Wuest said. “I’m very excited right now, but it’s very nerve racking playing in that type of game. That was such a great game.”

Assumption defeated SHA three of the four times they met during the regular season.

“That’s what makes a rivalry game what it is,” Mitchell said. "We knew it would be a blood bath and it was a great, great game. It came down to the end like we knew it would. That’s what happens every time we play Assumption. It could have gone either way the way each team was playing.”

“We pushed and pushed and just couldn’t connect with our passes, and just turned out it wasn’t meant to be for us,” Mitchell said. “We have 10 seniors and we’re going to miss them.”

The Rockets will look to avenge last season’s 1-0 state semifinal loss to Manual and Judd expects much of the same.

“I tried to warn them last year about how physical Manual plays and while that takes the beauty out of field hockey we need to be ready to play that style,” Judd said. “We have to use our passing skills and play team offense and defense we’ll be ok.”

The title game will be Wednesday night at 6 p.m. at Bellarmine.


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