Done­gal ral­lies late to up­end Villa in OT

Done­gal ral­lies late to up­end Hur­ri­canes in OT

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Bill Ru­dick bru­dick55@gmail.com @bru­dick55 on Twit­ter

“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.”

BILL RU­DICK — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

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.

BILL RU­DICK — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Emily Doyle of Villa Maria tries to get around Rachel Robin­son of Done­gal in the PIAA field hockey semi­fi­nal Tues­day.

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