Mount sophomore Virginia Poliwoda (left) reverses her stick to shoot the first of her two goals against Sacred Heart. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

As expected, Mount St. Joseph Academy opened its second round of league field hockey contests last Thursday with a victory over visiting Country Day School of the Sacred Heart.

Two goals apiece by junior Katie Maransky and sophomore Virginia Poliwoda highlighted the 7-1 victory, and other goals came from junior Chrissy Pascali and freshmen Margot Biamon and Ava Self as the Magic raised its record to 7-4 overall and 5-3 within the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies.

Although Sacred Heart’s entire high school enrollment is just three-quarters of the size of the Mount’s freshman class, hockey is usually one of the Lions’ stronger sports, with the program under the guidance of alumna Rory (Rogers) Callaghan, who also played for Villanova University. Besides, this season any “W” is welcome for Mount St. Joe, since the 2012 league runner-up found itself sitting fourth in the AACA following the first round of competiton.

A look at the scoring in the initial meetings with the top three teams gets to the heart of the Magic’s difficulties this fall; they registered a total of one goal in those three outings. Anchored by senior goalie Christina Black, the Mount only gave up a total of five goals in those games, so clearly point production is the issue.

Head coach Christina Post saw a number of positive signs in last Thursday’s home match.

“We’re learning to play off each other better; our work during practices is paying off,” she commented. “We’ve been working on framing the goalie and finishing, because that’s something that we’ve been struggling with this season. Yes, I know we weren’t playing a team like Gwynedd [Mercy, the undefeated league leader] today, but it was a step in the right direction for us.”

Earlier last week, Mount St. Joe lost to a fellow franchise from Class AAA in PIAA District 1, Council Rock North, and then the Magic finished their first set of Catholic Academies contests by beating Villa Joseph Marie. The first goal of the CR North game was scored by the Indians on a penalty stroke, and that proved to be the difference as the Newtown team prevailed 2-1.

Senior Millie Stefanowicz scored for the Mount in that game, and she also provided the only goal of the day in the match with Villa Joe.

On Thursday, Sacred Heart arrived with a 2-5 record from the first round of AACA bouts, so the Magic just needed to make sure they came out aggressively and took care of business.

Coach Post noted, “We did a great job of earning corners and executing and getting shots off, and you have to give credit to their goalie for making a lot of good saves.”

The Mounties were awarded a penalty corner in the first minute, and in the aftermath of another restart from the endline, they scored their first goal a little over seven minutes into the action. This one was deposited by Pascali from a few yards outside the left post.

Two-and-a-half minutes later, the hosts converted directly off a corner for a 2-0 advantage. Here, Pascali inserted from the left to Stefanowicz at the top of the circle, and she dished the ball to her right to set up a scoring drive by Maransky.

When Poliwoda deposited her first goal with 17:23 to go in the first half, the visitors called a time-out, but the Magic would penetrate the Lions’ cage two more times before the period ended. The freshman class accounted for both of these markers, with Biamon finding the backboard with 8:32 remaining, and Self (who was recently brought up to the varsity squad) making it 5-0 for halftime just as the clock dipped below the two-minute mark.

Responding well to their halftime talk, the visitors seized the initiative in the early minutes of the second half, breaking up the MSJ shutout on a goal by Mary Rose O’Donnell with 3:17 elapsed. After that, though, the Magic controlled play much of the time for the remainder of the contest, adding their last two goals in the middle of the period as first Maransky and then Poliwoda scored a second goal in the game.

“We were there for the rebounds, and we were getting to the right spots,” Post said. “That was good to see because we have a number of young players, and in some of the earlier games they weren’t always sure where they were supposed to be in a given situation. I thought we read the spaces well today and transferred the ball when we needed to, instead of trying to go right through a couple of defenders.”

In the Mount goalcage, Black was only called upon to make two saves throughout the encounter.

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