Accompanied by senior Dom Nyzio (#13), Mount St. Joe freshman M.K. Maloney heads upfield with the ball during last Tuesday’s playoff victory. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

After earning a share of the Catholic Academies lacrosse championship this season with a 12-1 record, there was at least one more goal that the talented senior class at Mount St. Joseph Academy wanted to accomplish before they departed with their diplomas.

The Magic had not won a game in the PIAA District 1 tournament for more than 10 years, and last Tuesday 11th seeded Mount St. Joe put an end to that negative streak, beating number 22 Central Bucks West in a first-round bout, 20-10. After a slow start, the Mount leapfrogged the visiting Bucks to enjoy a 13-5 halftime advantage, and their lead was never in jeopardy after that.

Villanova-bound senior Olivia Gannon funneled in seven goals and dealt a pair of assists to lead the winners, while classmate Emilee Ehret, a Penn State field hockey signee, scored a hat trick and distributed six assists. The freshman class was well-represented in the scoring stats by M.K. Maloney, who fired four goals and had two assists.

Gannon attended Norwood Fontbonne Academy, and so did the Mount’s Dom Nyzio, who will continue her lax career at Drexel University. Nyzio and classmate Marley Breslin each scored twice on Tuesday, and senior Meg McCabe and junior Natalie Bohner (one assist) each added a goal to round out the total. Senior goalie Alex Lista, who will play for the College of William and Mary, racked up a dozen assists in the game.

Gannon, Lista, and Nyzio all made verbal commitments to their respective college programs in the middle of their junior year.

In last week’s District 1 opener, C.B. West (10-8) started out strong, and even when they fell far behind, the Bucks kept battling.

“They did a great job,” said first-year MSJ head coach Lindsey Colferai. “I saw film on them, and I’ve also coached some of their players in club lacrosse, and they’re tough, athletic kids.”

The Magic came into the match with a District 1 victory drought that stretched back to 2002, when they defeated Sun Valley High School in the opening round of the tournament before bowing out against Great Valley. At the outset of Tuesday’s tilt, they did not look quite ready for prime time. Driving hard to goal, West went up 2-0, and later led 3-1 after Breslin broke the ice for the host Mounties.

“It was an uphill start, kind of like our second game against Merion,” noted Colferai, referring to an early 0-3 deficit the Mount incurred against their league rivals before rallying to win. “We finally realized that on defense we had to close them off with our bodies, not just with our sticks. Our girls are mentally tough, and they figured things out on their own without my having to call a time-out, which made me proud.”

Instead, it was C.B. West who paused for a chalk-talk after the Magic whipped in two quick goals as the first-half clock dropped from 16:56 to 16:38. Gannon shot both of them (with assists from Bohner and Ehret), then after the time-out the Magic banged in two more all within the same minute of game-time.

These two markers by Nyzio (after Maloney transported the ball downfield) and Gannon (stemming from Ehret’s draw control) put the home team up 5-3 with 16:10 still to play in the opening period.

The Bucks got back within one at 13:12, then the Mounties began their truly decisive surge almost immediately, outscoring their guests 8-1 in the remainder of the first half. At the break, Gannon already had six of her seven goals in the book.

In the first three-and-a-half minutes of the second stanza, Mount St. Joe got two more goals from Maloney, who was assisted on the second strike by sophomore Kaitlyn Meister. The Bucks answered back both times, but the Magic proceeded to score four times in a row for a 19-7 lead with 13:10 remaining. McCabe, who has decided that she will attend Drexel along with Nyzio, capped off this string.

The Mount subbed liberally after that, and C.B. West accounted for three of the last four goals in the contest. The Bucks’ Elena Romesburg and Jane Savard had four and three goals, respectively, and goalie Molly Naylor finished with six saves.

UPDATE: The Magic ended their season on May 16 with a 15-6 loss to sixth-seeded Conestoga, a member of the perennially-powerful Central League. Gannon and freshman Abby Aita each scored twice, and McCabe and Bohner furnished the other MSJ goals. Lista logged nine saves in goal for the Mount, which finished the season with an overall record of 15-4.

“A team like Conestoga will make you regret all of the little mistakes that you can get away with in a lot of other games,” Coach Colferai said. “The bottom line was, they were just very good.”

Overall, though, the rookie coach was pleased with the outcome of the season.

“The girls were very dedicated, and we definitely took some steps forward as a program,” she said. “I want it to be the start of a positive trend that we will continue in the future, and I know the players want that, too.”

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