In Mount St. Joseph’s District 1 tournament opener, senior co-captain Ali Waters (left) chases down a ball at midfield, with Upper Merion High School’s Danielle Antonucci also in the hunt. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

At the beginning of the District 1 Class AAA field hockey tournament last week, it took a few minutes for host Mount St. Joseph Academy to start living up to its billing as the highest-seeded team playing in the opening round.

Before long, though, points began to flow onto the scoresheet for the number five Magic, who dispatched 25th-seeded Upper Merion High School, 6-0, on the artificial turf of Chestnut Hill College’s Victory Field.

For the 2012 tournament draw, Mount St. Joe was ranked right behind the four teams that received first-round byes, bringing an overall record of 15-3 into the playoffs. The Magic had finished second within the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies, where they put up a mark of 11-3.

Upper Merion came to play the Magic with a 9-8-1 overall record. The Vikings belong to the American Conference of the Suburban One League, where the top teams this fall were Wissahickon High School (seeded third in the District 1 Class AAA tournament) and Springfield (Montco) High (the third seed in the Class AA tourney).

The teams ranged back and forth in the early going on Monday, and Upper Merion got to the edge of the MSJ circle on one rush. The Magic earned its first corner a little over seven minutes into the action, and were awarded another less than a minute later.

On the second opportunity, senior Emilee Ehret received the ball high in the circle and dished it laterally to classmate Julia Mustin. Mustin, a Norwood Fontbonne Academy graduate, let loose a long shot from the right to get the Magic on the board. Three-and-a-half minutes later, Mustin scored again off an Ehret assist, this time with Ehret dribbling into the circle on the right and whacking the ball down towards the left post, where Mustin was waiting to pounce.

With 13 minutes to go in the opening period, the Penn State-bound Ehret notched a goal of her own, converting a Mount penalty stroke high on the left side. Just 87 seconds after that it was 4-0 thanks to Norwood alum Ann Burgoyne, who has committed to play at FairfieldUniversity.

The Magic called a time-out and made a number of personnel changes. The Vikings were able to generate more offense after this, and with 2:40 left in the half everyone heard an Upper Merion shot hit the backboard.

On its way in, however, the ball had glanced off the foot of an attacking player, negating the apparent goal. Instead, the half ended – literally – on another MSJ corner, which led to Ehret’s second goal with no time on the clock.

The Magic continued to control most of the action after the interlude, and with a dozen minutes to go Katie Fitzpatrick scored with an assist from sophomore classmate Steph Mahoney. Christina Black, the junior goalie for Mount St. Joe, collected five saves for the shutout.

UPDATE – The Mount split in its other two District 1 games last week, defeating visiting number 12 Garnet Valley in a 2-1 overtime contest on Wednesday, and losing 3-2 on the road at number four Unionville on Friday. The Magic, along with the other three teams that lost in Friday’s quarterfinals, will engage in play-in games this week to determine the last two of the six District 1 teams to advance to the state tournament.

On Wednesday, the Mount had numerous scoring opportunities in the first half, but couldn’t get anything past Garnet Valley goalie Hailey Valerio, a sophomore who has been invited to the U.S. Junior National Team Camp. With 19:13 left in regulation, Mustin scored to put the Magic up 1-0, but the Jaguars tied it up six minutes later. In an transition sequence in overtime, Burgoyne brought the ball upfield, drew the defense, and distributed to Ehret, who nailed the game-winner.

Garnet Valley had actually beaten Unionville in a regular-season meeting (when Valerio had 16 saves), and in the middle of the second half of Friday’s District match, host Unionville was trailing the Mount, 2-1, thanks to goals by Burgoyne and Mustin. The Indians answered with back-to-back strikes for a 3-2 win, despite nine saves by MSJ’s Black.

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