For Mount St. Joseph Academy's lacrosse team, COVID-19 restrictions not only erased the 2020 season, but also impinged upon the start of the 2021 campaign. A COVID diagnosis at the school shut down …
For Mount St. Joseph Academy's lacrosse team, COVID-19 restrictions not only erased the 2020 season, but also impinged upon the start of the 2021 campaign. A COVID diagnosis at the school shut down the team for two weeks, and according to third-year head coach Dipi Bhaya, the Magic only got in two practices before playing their belated season opener last Thursday afternoon.
In addition, the Mounties had to start out against a traditional Catholic Academies powerhouse, Villa Maria.
Host Mount St. Joe actually got out to a 3-0 lead, but later Villa drew even at 4-4 and then the teams paused for halftime with a 5-5 tie on the board. Five straight goals for the Hurricanes over the first 10 minutes of the second half proved to be the Magic's downfall. The locals made up some ground late in the match but still lost, 11-8.
It was the fifth game of the season for the 'Canes, who had dispatched three AACA rivals (Sacred Heart, St. Basil, and Villa Joseph Marie) and had lost to traditionally strong Unionville High School.
Chestnut Hill's Norwood Fontbonne Academy is well represented on the Mount roster, which features four NFA alums: senior Maggie Woolley, juniors Campbell Donovan and Emily Reithmiller, and sophomore Devon Loome.
Tuesday's game started with Donovan in the center circle for the opening draw, and in a little over three minutes Loome scored twice off of free position opportunities. Senior Devon McGarvey, who would finish with a game-high four goals, fired her first to put the Magic up 3-0. Villa called time-out with 19:27 remaining in the first half.
Villa revived, and over the next six minutes outscored the Mount 3-1 (McGarvey had the lone Magic marker). With a little over 11 minutes to go in the first period, a foul was called against MSJ's sophomore goalie, Annie Shields. She had to step away from the cage, and the free position goal by Villa's Clara Meehan got the Hurricanes caught up completely, at 4-4.
Mount St. Joseph went ahead for what would be the final time with 10:08 left in the half, when senior Katie O'Connor scored from near the right post off of a feed from behind.
The Hurricanes' Margie Cardel levelled the score again about 90 seconds later. Villa then threatened to take the lead as the half wound down. Shields stopped a high shot from right on the edge of the crease, and later another shot by the visitors hit the right post in the final minute.
In the final phase of the first half, and on into the second, the Mounties fired high shots at Villa goalie Caroline Kirby, who stopped all of them. The MSJ attackers didn't make it difficult for Kirby to track the ball as they approached the cage.
"Change your shot, we kept trying to tell them," said Coach Bhaya, referring to herself and her assistant coach of three years, Archie Alston. "I was disappointed in the score of the game because we didn't finish on offense, and our hard work didn't show up on the scoreboard.
If you have too many lost opportunities against a team like Villa, it's going to hurt you."
In the initial six minutes of the second half the visitors scored twice, and they would lead the rest of the way. With a Magic player off the field with a yellow card, the 'Canes struck again for an 8-5 advantage with just under 16 minutes remaining.
Villa played a controlled offensive game, moving the ball briskly around in front and behind the goal to create good looks for shots. By the time the clock got down to 15 minutes, the Hurricanes had added two more points, making it 10-5.
With a dozen minutes left to play, McGarvey deposited the Mount's first goal of the second half. Finally, the Mounties were testing Villa keeper Kirby with low shots and bounce shots. After the visitors reached their final total of 11 points with five-and-a-half minutes remaining, the Magic got late strikes from Loome (who had a hat trick) and McGarvey to set the final gap at three goals.
Shields had 14 saves for Mount St. Joe, and Kirby stopped eight shots for Villa. Carden and Meehan led the attack for the victors, with three goals apiece.
"I think if we'd have had even one or two games under our belt, we would have learned how to work our way our of that situation in the second half," Bhaya remarked. "With nobody on any team really getting any experience last year, that first game or two this season became even more important, and the way things happened, we got a later start than most people."