DePaul lifts Elks to playoff win over Tigers
Special to the Whig
Despite Rising Sun netting an equalizer in the final minute of the first half, the mood around the Elkton bench was positive at halftime.
The Golden Elks talked each other up during the break and started the second half off strong, taking the lead on Erin DePaul’s goal just 2:27 after halftime. They held on from there to earn a 2-1 home vic-
tory over the Tigers in the 2A North Region Section II field hockey semifinals on Friday. “We were a little [upset], but we kind of had to reassess ourselves and say ‘Okay, we got this. We have to come out 10 times harder than they are,’” DePaul said. “I think we knew coming into it that Rising Sun was really, really going to be a tough game, but we’ve worked so hard this season and kept saying ‘Do we want our sea- son to end now?’”
That hard work was echoed by the Elkton head coach.
“We kind of used that for motivation because after we lost to Kent County [on Oct. 13 for our first loss of the year], we have been using that fuel to push us through the rest of the season,” Elks coach Renee Dunn said. “It was very positive.”
The Elks (12-1) pushed the action down to their attacking third quickly, constantly pressuring the Rising Sun defense, which led to a penalty corner in the third minute. The penalty corner pass went to Vanessa Dunn, who slid it over to DePaul, who slammed a shot into the cage to give Elkton the 2-1 lead.
While the Elks controlled possession for most of the second half, Rising Sun had some promising chances to get the equalizer on the counterattack, but Elkton’s defense and goalkeeper Fallon Katz made the necessary stops down the stretch to hold on the win and advance to the sectional final against Fallston on Monday.
The loss ends the season for Rising Sun (2-10-1), but head coach Katie Keyes is happy with the way the Tigers fought and improved throughout the year.
“I’m extremely proud of the team. If someone would look at our record, they may not think that, but we had a lot of improvement from the first game to this game,” said Keyes, whose team competed all season in the difficult Chesapeake Division. “They’ve learned things. They’ve done what we asked. They played well together, and they support each other. I could really ask for anything more.”
The Elks found the board first in the game’s 17th minute off a penalty corner when Vanessa Dunn scored off an assist from DePaul. Both of Elkton’s goals came off the penalty, which was something it has struggled with this season.
“It feels amazing. Looking through our stats, we do not do very well on corners, but we’ve really focused on that,” Renee Dunn said. “We’ve gone back to the fundamentals and practicing them, doing different combinations, and it seems to have paid off. It seems like we’ve finally started to click with our corners.”
Rising Sun’s goal came with 50 seconds left in the first half when Cayley Hall scored with an assist from Taylor Knight, which tied the game at 1-1.