GA sophomore Katie Westrum (left) begins to celebrate when she sees that senior teammate Catherine Perlmutter (in white jersey behind sprawling goalie) has knocked the ball (lower left corner) into the cage of the ANC Lions for the winning goal in last Friday’s game. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Close games are more fun when you win at the end, and the Germantown Academy Patriots were all smiles following last Friday’s 3-2 field hockey victory over visiting Academy of the New Church.

Senior Catherine Perlmutter scored two of the GA goals and assisted on the other, and her second marker, coming with 5:39 remaining, proved to be the game-winner. Sophomore Katie Westrum put in the other goal for the Pats and assisted on Perlmutter’s first strike, and her 10th-grade classmate Ashley Piszek finished with 16 saves in goal after fighting off sustained attacks by the ANC Lions in the second half.

The outcome evened up GA’s season record at 2-2-1, with the other victory coming against Conwell-Egan High School (2-1 final score). Germantown fell to Archbishop Carroll (3-5) and Hill School (2-3), and battled to a 1-1 tie against Princeton Day School.

Last fall, an 8-4 record netted the Patriots third place in the Girls Inter-Ac League, where they dropped home and away games against Episcopal Academy and Notre Dame, and swept season series against the other four schools. However, GA graduated a number of talented players from that squad, including high scorer Maggie Oberkircher, starting goalie Tyler Wellington, and a midfield trio that included Brooke Kiley, who headed off to Penn to play Division I lacrosse.

“We’re younger now, with not as many seniors, but they’re starting to come together,” noted longtime Patriots coach Ginny Hofmann. “We put Meg [McGinnis, a senior] deep as a sweep, and we tried to have some experienced players in each layer of the field. We have moments of brilliance when we really move the ball well, and other times when we just lose control of the play.”

The Pats were in control at the outset of Friday’s frolic, and just one minute and 19 seconds into the action, Perlmutter deposited her first goal off a Westrum assist. Five minutes later Raika Nunez leveled the score for the Lions, who arrived at GA with a 2-0 record and a good crowd of parents to cheer them on.

With 17:48 remaining in the opening half, Perlmutter drove the ball from the right side of the circle over towards the left post, and Westrum scored to move Germantown ahead once more. Not long after that ANC was awarded a penalty corner at the other end, but a speedy sophomore for the host team, Hannah Sargent, flew out to break up the play.

Off of a GA corner with 10 minutes to go, senior Caroline Haynie hit a shot wide to the left of the cage, and the intermission arrived with the tally still at 2-1.

It was New Church which struck early in the second period, with less than two minutes elapsed when Nicole King tied the game at 2-2. The offensive momentum stayed with the Lions for quite a while, with numerous corners and long periods spent inside the Patriots’ circle.

“It was just non-stop fouling for us,” Coach Hofmann remarked. “The good news was that they didn’t score during all that mess.”

Keeping ANC from netting a go-ahead goal demanded some heroics on the part of Piszek, who had been the starting goalie for the JV squad in 2011.

“She’s playing spectacular, and has really had some great saves for us,” Hofmann said. “She’s made other good plays besides the saves, and she’s got a great clear.”

Finally, GA changed the flow of the game and began to attack once more as the contest entered its final phase. With a little over five-and-a-half minutes to go, sophomore Allie Carrigan slipped a ball inside near the goal, and Perlmutter fought to get off a successful shot from a few steps off of the right post. The Patriots rode their 3-2 advantage to the final horn.

Perlmutter and several other GA seniors plan to continue playing in college, but none of them have completed the selection process. Junior midfielder Cooper Hall, whose primary passion is lacrosse, has made a verbal commitment to play that sport at Yale University.

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