In field hockey, Mount St. Joseph Academy's seeding for the PIAA state tournament was determined last week.
In field hockey, Mount St. Joseph Academy's seeding for the PIAA state tournament was determined last week as the Magic wrapped up competition in the District 1 Class AA tourney.
Seeded second in the District playoffs, the Mounties defeated Lower Moreland High School (9-0) in the first round and beat Unionville (5-0) in the quarterfinals. Reaching the semifinals, the Mount was guaranteed a spot in the state tournament, since the top five teams in the District 1 playoffs got to advance.
Playing third-seeded Radnor High School in the district semifinals last Wednesday, Mount St. Joe succumbed in double overtime, 4-3.
Two days later the Magic hosted the seeding game to determine the third and fourth spots for States, and the Mount secured third with a 5-1 victory over its Catholic Academies colleague, fourth-ranked Gwynedd Mercy. Mount St. Joe bolted to a 4-0 lead in the first nine minutes of the match, gave up a goal on a Monarchs penalty stroke in the third quarter, and then tacked on one more point in the fourth period.
The MSJ sticksters had met Radnor in the district quarter finals in 2022, when they were seeded sixth and the Raiders were third. Hosting that contest, Radnor won 3-0, and subsequently the Mount ended its season with a loss in the fifth/sixth play-in game to determine the final team that would move on to the state tourney.
Escaping the Mount with the overtime win this year, Radnor then succumbed, 2-1, in Saturday's championship game to top-seeded Villa Maria Academy. Villa was the 2023 champ in the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies, where the Mount finished second.
Friday's seeding game with Gwynedd was just over one minute old when Mount St. Joe earned a penalty corner. On the corner play, a shot was deflected out the right side of the circle. The Magic brought the ball back inside and sophomore Nora Massella scored with 1:45 elapsed in the first quarter.
Less than three minutes later the hosts were up 2-0, after a shot from the left side by freshman Julia McGlynn hit the near post the ball kept
rolling into the right side of the cage. Later another ninth-grader, Caitlin Paul, drove the ball to the front of the goalcage, where it was tipped in by senior Grace Kyle.
With 5:58 still to go in the opening period, McGlynn scored her second goal from the left side of the circle, and the Mounties had a daunting 4-0 lead.
Head Coach Kyra Castano said that after the double OT loss to Radnor, "All of us were disappointed, and today we came out firing on all cylinders and I'm really proud of that. Against Radnor we played as well we could, but it just didn't go our way. That happens in athletics."
In the second quarter Gwynedd stopped points from pouring onto the home side of the scoreboard, and the tally was still 4-0 at the half. The Monarchs had done a better job of getting to loose balls and to rebounds in front of the goal, limiting the Magic's opportunities.
Castano related, "At halftime we talked about how we needed to step to those 50/50 balls, and we made a little adjustment."
Nevertheless, it was Gwynedd that would score the lone goal of the third quarter. During a Gwynedd attack in the circle the Mount's sophomore goalie, Lexi Kelly, fell to the ground and in the ensuing scramble a Mount foul resulted in a GMA penalty stroke. It was converted on the left side of the cage by Ava Huntley, and with 9:56 remaining in the third period, the score closed up to 4-1.
The Monarchs were not able to score in the run of play, though, despite strong drives by Huntley and Rory Saxon and solid work in the midfield by Maddie Bogle.
The Monarchs kept up some offensive pressure into the fourth quarter, but the Magic increasingly began to control play as the match entered its final phase. For the Mount's fifth goal, coming with 47 seconds remaining, freshman Tess Hankins made the insertion and senior Cailin Keough drove the ball back down low to set up the score by Paul.
"We came back in the fourth quarter," Castano noted. "I'm happy we played up to the end; I tell them I expect them to play whistle-to-whistle."
On a corner play in the final seconds, Gwynedd could not come up with a second goal.
In the opening round of the state tournament, the Mounties will face Northern York High School, the runner-up team in central Pennsylvania's powerful District 3. If they win, another match with the AACA's own Villa Maria is likely to occur.
From the start of the season, Castano sensed that her Mount St. Joe squad had the ability to make it into the state tourney.
"From the moment I saw them in preseason, I knew we had a good team," she related. "I could see it in the way they were able to mesh so quickly, and how the young girls fit right in."