Shana­han

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS -

“Awe­some job, goalie,” Shana­han de­fender Leigh Roselli to Gunn said as the two ex­changed high-fives af­ter the game.

How­ever, nei­ther Gunn nor the Strath Haven de­fense could keep the Ea­gles (9-10) off the board for­ever. Velez, Plevyak and Me­gan Gal­lagher found the back of the cage in the sec­ond half

As good as Gunn and the Strath Haven de­fense was, though, they were not enough to keep the Pan­thers alive in the dis­trict tour­na­ment. Velez, Plevyak and Me­gan Gal­lagher eventually found the back of the cage to send the Eaglies into the quar­ter­fi­nals.

Bishop Shana­han’s re­ward is another road game, this time at sec­ond-seeded Mount St. Joseph Fri­day af­ter­noon. The Jems knocked off Pen­ncrest, 3-0, to keep their dis­trict cham­pi­onship hopes alive. It’s one round far­ther than the Ea­gles went last year and two rounds deeper than Shana­han went in 2014.

“We’re ex­cited,” Velez said.

The ini­tial emo­tion Shana­han ex­pe­ri­enced Wed­nes­day, though, was re­lief, thanks to a few ad­just­ments at half­time that helped solve the scor­ing

drought.

Strath Haven took ad­van­tage of Gunn’s bril­liant play and a goal by sopho­more Ash­ley Has­sell off a pass from fel­low 10thgrader Chloe Bless­ing­ton 8:53 into the con­test to take a 1-0 lead.

Shana­han had many op­por­tu­ni­ties. Plevyak was stoned on two break­aways. The Ea­gles also had seven cor­ners in the first half and came away with noth­ing. “We talked about how we had to move the goalie, use our team­mates, pass to each other,” Nancy Roselli said. “It’s a novel con­cept.”

But one that worked. Velez got Shana­han even when she blasted a shot home from the top of the cir­cle on a cor­ner with 25 min­utes, 49 sec­onds to go in the game. Gunn never had a chance.

“It was a great shot by her,” Gunn said.

Shana­han’s bench rightly went wild.

“It broke the dam, so to speak,” Roselli said of the goal by Velez.

That it came off of a cor­ner was dou­bly pleas­ing for the Ea­gles. The goal, which came off a pass from se­nior Kelly Caneimo, came on Shan­han’s 10th cor­ner of the game. The Ea­gles would fin­ish with 15 cor­ners to just two for the Pan­thers.

“Cor­ners are a strug­gle

for us,” Plevyak said. “We prac­tice them con­stantly, it just takes a lit­tle while to find which cor­ner to use in the game be­cause the other team adapts to what we’re do­ing.”

The ad­just­ment this time was to put Velez at the top of the cir­cle and blast away af­ter she re­ceived the pass from fel­low se­nior Kelly Can­ceimo.

“They were read­ing us pretty well,” Velez said of Strath Haven’s de­fense. “They were see­ing what we were do­ing so we had to ad­just ev­ery time. We fi­nally got it to the point where we put on one.”

Shana­han did not stay with that for­mula on cor­ners. The Ea­gles con­tin­ued to mix it up to keep the Strath Haven de­fense guess­ing. That was one of the many ad­just­ments Roselli made at half­time. The other big change was how to at­tack Gunn. That also paid off.

Plevyak broke the 1-1dead­lock when she put home a pass from Velez 3:06 af­ter Velez scored the equal­izer.

“The sat­is­fy­ing part is that it pust us up by one goal,” Plevyak said. “But it also was sat­is­fy­ing to put one when even though I fum­bled the ball. I proved to my­self that I can ac­tu­ally score af­ter I fum­ble the ball like that. It meant a lot to more.”

Down a goal and with the sea­son on the line Strath Haven put as much pres­sure on the Ea­gles as pos­si­ble. How­ever, Shana­han’s de­fense, which goalie Ca­ressa Gen­tile lead­ing the way, was up to the task. Gen­tile made all five of her saves in the sec­ond half and what she did not stop, the de­fense did. “They came to­gether nicely as a team to­day,” Roselli said.

“We like to joke that we’re a sec­ond-half team be­cause we al­ways seem to put it into over­drive in the sec­ond half. To­day was one of those days. It took us a lit­tle time to get warmed up. Once we felt con­fi­dent as a team we re­ally brought it to­gether.”

Gunn and the Strath Haven de­fense had a lot to do with Shana­han’s early lack of con­fi­dence.

“I thought our de­fense was stel­lar,” Reid said. “We knew they could score just by look­ing at their scores. They scored three goals on Con­estoga (in a 6-3 loss to the Pioneers) so for us to hold them to three goals was a moral vic­tory. Our kids played hard. The chips just did not fall our way.”

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