Norwood seventh-grader Alexis Ventresca (right) controls the ball as Ancillae’s Elizabeth Dolich comes over to defend. (Photo by Chris Thistle)

by Tom Utescher

In a show of offensive power, Norwood Fontbonne Academy’s field hockey team raised its record to 4-1 within the Girls Catholic Academies League last Wednesday afternoon.

Playing on their regular home field on the Mount St. Joseph Academy campus, the NFA Bears had eighth-graders Morgan McMenamin and Charlotte Hodgson score two goals apiece to help fuel a 6-0 victory over visiting Ancillae Assumpta Academy of Wyncote. Their classmate, goalie Emma Gelone, didn’t need to make any saves for the shutout, although Ancillae woke her up in the second half with a little burst of offensive activity.

The other eighth-grade players on the Norwood varsity are Nora Blatney, Katie Convey, Olivia Cook, Campbell Donovan, Kate Kelly and Genevieve Newstead. Seventh-graders Kaleigh Howard, Annalese Leonard, Devin Loome and Alexis Ventresca have also earned a place on the Bears’ top squad.

Ancillae has graduated some strong players over the last few years, including Germantown Academy sophomore Grace Pacitti and sisters Haley and Kennedy Cligett, now a sophomore and a freshman at the Mount. As a consequence, the team is having a rough go in the GCAL this fall. Norwood, which has lost only to Villa Maria, came out aggressively on Wednesday, earning a corner near the end of the opening minute. The Bears didn’t score directly on that play, but they kept the ball up near the circle and soon McMenamin got them on the board after receiving a pass from Ventresca.

The same two players reversed roles soon after that, with the goal by Ventresca moving the hosts ahead 2-0 just three-and-a-half minutes into the contest. Donovan, who inserted for Norwood on penalty corners, earned an assist on the second goal of the day by McMenamin, who chipped in a reverse-stick shot to make it 3-0.

Repeatedly bringing the ball up the left wing, Ventresca helped keep the NFA girls on the attack. Ancillae was able to hold the score at 3-0 for the rest of the first half, though. Seventh-grade goalie Annie Shields (10 total saves) played well for the visitors under a lot of pressure, and Elizabeth Dolich had a defensive save for Ancillae.

For the first 15 minutes of the second half the Bears were on offense most of the time, though Ancillae got the ball up into the NFA circle several times, as well. In the visitors’ goal cage Shields continued to stop Norwood shots, but eventually the home team tacked a fourth goal onto the board, with Newstead scoring off an assist from Donovan with nine minutes left to play.

Norwood’s offense continued to produce points down the final stretch, with Hodgson scoring back-to-back goals to complete the final score. Loome assisted on her second marker.

The Bears will finish out their GCAL schedule against Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, and will also play Inter-Ac League opponents Springside Chestnut Hill Academy and Penn Charter.