by Tom Utescher
The field hockey team at Norwood Fontbonne Academy plays and practices on natural grass fields much of the time, but due to a sound foundation in fundamental stick skills, the Bears usually do pretty well when they get the opportunity to perform on artificial turf.
That was the case last Thursday afternoon, when Norwood took on a young Penn Charter middle school team on PC’s Perrot Field, where the NFA girls emerged with a 4-0 victory. The Bears made some adjustments to their regular line-up, since the Quakers do not have enough players to field a JV team this fall, and half of their varsity is made up of sixth-graders.
As usual, Norwood has experienced rigorous competition within the Girls Catholic Academies League, winning games against Rosemont Holy Child and Waldron Mercy, but coming out on the short end of four other GCAL contests. With a non-league win over Springside Chestnut Hill Academy added in, the Bears were 3-4 overall when they arrived at Penn Charter last Thursday.
Despite their small roster, the host Quakers went into the game without a loss at 1-0-2. They had beaten Germantown Friends and battled to draws with Germantown Academy and the Academy of Notre Dame.
The Quakers commenced with their regular goalie, eighth-grader Zora Johnson, in the cage, while at the other end the eighth-grader who normally starts for Norwood, Sophie Giovannone, stayed on the sideline while JV keeper Miranda Kernaghan, a sixth-grader, protected the Bears’ den.
Norwood rotates players to serve as team captains, while last Thursday PC sent out eighth-graders Liliana Gartanutti and Sydney Wood to receive the pre-game instructions from the official. Their classmate, Kaylee Dyer, has been a top performer for PC this season.
Norwood Fontbonne did not get off solid shots on its two early penalty corners, and then a Penn Charter corner play ended when one of the Quakers committed a foul. The score remained 0-0 until less than nine minutes were left in the first half, when Norwood batted the ball around in the PC circle and eventually eighth-grader Clare Gimpel knocked it into the goal from near the left post.
PC called a time-out with 6:11 to go, but when play resumed the Bears scored again, with seventh-grader Katie Convey firing from a dozen yards out in the left side of the circle after getting the ball from her classmate Charlotte Hodgson.
Three-and-a-half minutes later, halftime arrived with the visitors leading 2-0.
Norwood added its other two goals in the first seven minutes of the second period. On a rush by the whole forward line, sixth-grader Alexis Ventresca found the backboard to make it 3-0, and for the fourth point, eighth-grader Isabelle Millan fired from the right side of the circle and Sabrina Borzi, a fifth-grader, made sure the ball went in at the left side of the goal cage.