by Tom Utescher

In its final scrimmage before the official PIAA opening date of Friday, March 25, Mount St. Joseph Academy overcame host Shipley School, 14-8, last Thursday afternoon.

Olivia Gannon, a sophomore who attended Norwood Fontbonne Academy, poured in six goals and handed out two assists for the Magic, and junior Burke Brabson recorded a hat trick and one assist. The goaltending duties were divided between sophomore Alex Lista, who had six saves, and senior Gabbie Rounbehler, who made three stops.

Shipley, a member of the Friends Schools League who had already played a number of scrimmages and one official game, went ahead 2-0 at the outset, but the Magic roared back to lead 8-3 at the half. The Gators narrowed the gap to three points, 11-8, in the second period, but the Mount rebounded for the last three goals of the afternoon. Due to a new penalty card rule, the Magic had to play 11-on-12 for almost nine minutes at the end of the game.

“I was really impressed with our effort,” said first-year coach Jenna Washabaugh, a 2006 Germantown Academy graduate who played lacrosse at Princeton University. “They went up two goals in the beginning and then they had that surge in the second half, and we were able to fight back from that. In a young team, that kind of grit is something that’s hard to coach, and these girls have it.”

Norwood grad Dominique Nyzio, a tenth-grader, helps anchor things on the defensive end for the Mount, along with Shannon Zoldy. Zoldy is a senior and a four-year varsity player for the Magic, as is midfielder Stevie Wells. When Lista starts in the cage, Zoldy and Wells are the only two senior starters for the team.

Last Thursday an early penalty on the visitors led to the game’s opening goal, courtesy of Shipley’s Kelly Hardon. Just after the teams were even once more, Avery Safford gave the hosts a 2-0 lead with 4:21 elapsed in the contest. That second strike triggered a quick response, as MSJ’s Gannon pocketed the ball off the draw and romped down to put the Magic on the board.

Shipley keeper Madison Bailey (10 saves) stopped the next few shots by the visitors, then Wells tied the match at 2-2 with 14:25 left in the half, scoring from close range off a pass from Brabson at the top of the arc. That opened the floodgates for the Magic, who struck five more times over the next seven minutes.

Gannon completed her first hat trick during this stretch, and there were goals by junior Laura Pacheco (assisted by classmate Maddie Haas) and sophomores Marley Breslin and Emilee Ehret. Ehret, whose longtime nickname is “Dog,” also transported the ball through the midfield for the Magic all game long, as her own cheering section barked from the bench.

In the final minute a Mount goal by Brabson was matched by Shipley for an 8-3 tally at the intermission, but the Magic regained the momentum at the start of the second half, when markers by Gannon, Brabson, and Wells spread the score to 11-3.

Two days earlier, Shipley had come back from a halftime deficit to defeat Springside, 12-7, and the Gators had another rally left in them for the Mount game. With Wells off the field for a penalty starting with 19:05 left to play, the hosts scored three goals in as many minutes.

“We shouldn’t need to use it as an excuse, but it’s important to have a leader like Stevie out on the field, especially this early in the season,” Washabaugh commented. “We moved some people around, and it took us awhile to adjust.”

The Shipley spree continued as Safford scored her fourth and fifth goals of the day, making it 11-8 with 10:35 left to play. MSJ’s Lista, who had started in goal and had been replaced at the start of the second half, went back into the nets and kept the cage sealed the rest of the way.

At 8:54 Gannon drove in and fired into the top right corner to end the Mount’s drought, but just four seconds later the Magic committed their third yellow card foul of the game. According to a rule introduced for the 2011 scholastic season, that means the offending team will be one player short for the remainder of the game.

The Magic responded well, actually increasing their lead on goals by Brabson with 6:22 on the clock, and by Gannon with 2:07 remaining.

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