DePaul lifts Elks to play­off win over Tigers

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By KEVIN PHILLIPS

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-

ELK­TON—

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.

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