November 12th, 2020

Sacred Heart tops CAL 2-1 for field hockey title

Block_eric thorne

Eric Thorne

Staff Writer

Sacred Heart tops CAL 2-1 for field hockey title
Sacred Heart's Lainey Baker and CAL's Molly Mast battle for control. (photo by Eric Thorne)

As frustration continued to mount for Sacred Heart with missed opportunities off corners Kennedy Vinson and Olivia Mayer had seen enough so the pair finally converted an overtime goal to give the Valkyries a 2-1 win in the KHSAA state title field hockey championship on Thursday.

Missed corner chances had been the Achilles heal all year for Sacred Heart especially in the three battles with CAL earlier in the year.

In a championship that had to wait due to quarantine it was only fitting that the two teams would need an extra period to crown the victor. Just hours before they were scheduled to play 10 days ago Covid-19 sent the teams into quarantine.

“The two weeks of waiting in quarantine just makes this all the sweeter,” Mayer said. “We wanted to come in the underdog and not have the advantage and get this win with a group of girls that have been playing since we were eight is the ultimate experience.”

“We were really taken aback when we had to postpone and asked why this why that, but when we were able to digest it we gained an advantage and chose to play the cards we were dealt,” Mayer added.

Sacred Heart (16-4) claimed its third state title in the sport that includes 2015 and 2018.

The Valkyries outshot Christian Academy10-5 and had 11 corners to just two for the Centurions.

“I knew that I just had to execute just like in practice and that’s what me and Olivia did,” Vinson said. “Before I went on for overtime coach (Eleanor) Mitchell told me I have to execute my corners. In regular time it was just in my head the misses, but in extra I blanked it out and told myself to step up, execute.”

Despite being outplayed in the first 15 minutes Christian Academy began to control the play in the second quarter. With 9:44 left in the half Claudia Thomas found daylight just off the side of the cage and drove in the first goal on the Centurions first shot making it 1-0.

The Ohio State commit netted her 16th goal of the season, but despite three other teammates having at least 16 goals on the year the Valkyrie defense held them in check. The Centurions had just a single shot on goal and one corner in the half.

The tide shifted toward Sacred Heart midway through the fourth quarter after CAL’s Mia Schoenbeck was sent to the sidelines after drawing a yellow card.

Sacred Heart fed off that and tied the game in the 53rd minute when Reese Wearren stole a pass and with Riley Hill screaming that she was unguarded laced her the pass. The senior sent the shot past goalkeeper Abigail Lala for her fifth goal of the season and team leading 12th assist for Wearren.

“I had this feeling before the game that if I got the ball I was going to score and I went in there found the ball and did score,” Hill said. “We were working so hard all game and just missing a tiny bit, but overall, our heart won out. When it went in I was blank and in shock.”

After a hurried pace to close out regulation neither team could find the back of the cage and for just the second time since the sport became officially sanctioned in 2014 the game headed to sudden victory.

The Valkyries took the opening faceoff in the extra period and continued to press the pace in the Centurion end of the field.

Following consecutive corners Vinson took the inserted pass and found Mayer without a defender on her and the Indiana commit tipped it in for the winner.

“We work non stop on corners at the end of every practice for like 30 minutes to an hour and tipping was not my strong suit this season and I just had a feeling it was going to happen,” Mayer said. “I wasn’t marked and just took my time and put the tip in.”

Vinson, who will be attending Miami of Ohio next year with Wearren, knew that was the moment.

“It was an insane moment where we huddled up and told each other its now or never,” Vinson said. “If we make it we win state and the best feeling ever and if we miss it again we’ll come back and just score again.”

Mitchell who has coached all three title teams knew it would be a battle till the end with top ranked CAL.

“Going into the fourth quarter we said if you want to win this you have to play with heart because we had been flat the previous three,” Mitchell said. “Missed corners has been the story of the season so to win on a corner is so validating since that is literally all we have worked on.”

As the seniors walked off the field for the final time smiles were all they could wear.

“Most of our seniors have been playing together since second grade and I couldn’t wish them anymore than on our last game together we win state,” Hill said. “This was just everything you could imagine.”

Mayer who was named Most Valuable player relished the moment.

“It’s my peak right now, yeah for sure,” she said with a huge grin. “We’ll see what happens in college, but it’s very big right now and I think I’ll enjoy it for a while.”


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