Donegal rallies late to upend Villa in OT
Donegal rallies late to upend Hurricanes in OT
“The only thing we can blame ourselves for is maybe not keeping up the intensity in the final seconds of the game. But I thought we played a good game, and there’s no reason to hang our heads.” – Villa Maria coach Daan Polders
CAERNARVON >> Much like last year’s PIAA field hockey semifinal between Donegal and Villa Maria,Tuesday evening’s version featured two great, aggressive teams battling hard for a chance to play in the state championship.
The Indians turned the tables on the Hurricanes by scoring the equalizer late in the second half, then MacKenzie Alessie completed her hat trick early in overtime for a 4-3 victory at Twin Valley High School.
Donegal advances to play Villa’s AACA rival, Merion Mercy, for the Class AA crown Saturday at noon at Whitehall-Coplay Stadium.
“The only thing we can blame ourselves for is maybe not keeping up the intensity in the final seconds of the game,” said Villa Maria coach Daan Polders. “But I thought we played a good game, and there’s no reason to hang our heads.”
District 3 champion Donegal earned its first trip to a state fi-
nal after sophomre sensation MacKenzie Alessie scored with 37 seconds left. She then notched the game winner a mere 1:05 into the seven-on-seven extra session.
“When it was still 2-2 with about 12 minutes left, I thought for sure we would be going to overtime,” said Donegal coach Jessica Schellenberger. “But then they scored. To pull it out in the end like that, I’m almost in shock.”
Villa opened the scoring after a back-and-forth opening five minutes, converting on a penalty corner. Jen Finley put the ball in play on the insert, and sent a ball in to Lindsay Dickinson at the top of the circle. Dickinson rifled a shot past Donegal goalie Katie Jean for the lead.
The Indians tied it six minutes later when Rachel Overlander assisted Cassy Satuffer’s goal. The 1-1 tie stood until halftime, thanks in no small part to a huge defensive save from Donegal back Rachel Robinson, who stopped a bullet from Annina Iacobucci from finding its way into the cage.
Eight minutes into the second half, Alessie notched her first goal of the day to make it 2-1, but Villa answered right back on another goal from Dickinson.
Awarded a corner with 7:21 to play, Iacobucci found the ball in a crowd, and let looses with a lifted shot that cleared Jean, but hit the top cross bar. An alert Emily Doyle got a hold of it and tapped it in for a 3-2 advantage with just 6:50 to play.
The stage was set for the Indians to stage their lategame magic behind the heroics of Alessie.
“There were some times in regulation where Villa did a great job taking (Alessie) out of the game, so we tried some different things,” said Schellenberger. “But in those final minutes and overtime, there was no doubt we were going to get the ball to MacKenzie.”
The statistical battle reflected the even nature of the game. The two teams forced an identical eight penalty corners. Donegal held a slight advantage in shots on goal, 12-10, and came out ahead in the only statistic that actually matters, four goals to three.
Villa finishes the season with a record of 21-3, and further cements its standing as one of the top field hockey programs in the state.
“The result we were hoping for was to come away from here with a victory and a chance to play for another state title, obviously,” said Polders. “But this has still been a good season, and a good season for hockey. I’ve always thought that quality comes ahead of quantity, but there were a lot more quality teams around this division this year, including the two teams here today.”
Lindsay Dickinson of Villa Maria brings the ball upfield while being trailed by Donegal’s MacKenzie Alessie during Tuesday’s PIAA Class AA field hockey semifinal at Twin Valley High School.
Emily Doyle of Villa Maria tries to get around Rachel Robinson of Donegal in the PIAA field hockey semifinal Tuesday.