Cover photo credit: Conor Revell
Sacred Heart’s field hockey team was bullying Assumption in the first half, but things quickly changed in the second half.
Assumption overcame a two goal halftime deficit to defeat the visiting Valkyries 4-3 in their annual rivalry Mug Game.
“Honestly, I thought we dominated the beginning of the game too, we just couldn’t get the ball in the goal which is frustrating,” Assumption head coach Debbie Judd said. “Their goalie did a good job and we have to do a better job with our stick work. After that we had to figure out a way to get around their wings because they’re faster than us. That’s an advantage and we had to adjust to that.”
Trailing 3-1 at the half, the Rockets Emma Spinetto cut the lead to one with her goal less than a minute into the second half.
Spinetto tied the game at three with her second goal five minutes later.
“The ball was shot and somebody tried to get off the goalie side but I got it,” Spinetto said of her second goal. “I shot it but got it back again. On the third try I was able to get it in with a new approach.”
Hayley Weber finished off the barrage when she scored off a Lee Ann Gordon assist to give Assumption (5-1) a 4-3 lead with 20:28 remaining.
“I knew I was going to have to get the shot off really quick,” Weber said. “I knew that we needed a score to get ahead. I got the ball from Lee Ann and I shot it into the left post.”
Spinetto led the Rockets with two goals while Sydney McKenna and Weber scored the other two goals. Gordon had the lone assist.
“I got the ball in the middle of the field and I knew that I needed to get rid of the ball,” Gordon said. “I saw a couple of Sacred Heart players and then I saw Hayley on right side of the field and got her the ball.”
Audrey and Mattie Tabor and Mary Kate Kesler scored the Valkyries (6-2) goals, all in the first half.
“I think we were connecting on our passes in the first half,” Sacred Heart head coach Eleanor Mitchell said. “We were playing hard; we were going after the ball. In the second half we had a big lapse and we weren’t connecting on our passes. We were making weak passes. We picked it up once we fell behind, but we have to learn how to play for a full 60 minutes.”
Sacred Heart sprinted out of the gate and Mattie Tabor put Sacred Heart ahead 1-0 with 22:58 left in the first half.
Kesler, just moments after being banged up, returned, and scored off a rebound to give the Valkyries a 2-0 lead with 16:01 to play in the opening half.
“In the first half we let them tell us what to do,” Spinetto said. “In the second half we needed to let them stop telling us how we play and we started playing our game.”
McKenna scored Assumption’s first goal cutting Sacred Heart’s lead to 2-1 with 13:55 left in the first half.
But Audrey Tabor gave Sacred Heart what seemed like a comfortable 3-1 lead with 10:55 to go in the half when her shot from 15 yards out on the right side of the field scorched into the top left corner of the goal.
It was a busy day for both goalkeepers as Shelby Wuest saved six of the Valkyries nine shots while Meghan Strite saved four of the Rockets 11 shot.
“We started eliminating instead of just trying to get by somebody,” Judd said. “We started working towards something. We were playing with more purpose. It was beautiful field hockeyand I love it when we play beautiful hockey.”
This was the third meeting between these two archrivals this season. Sacred Heart won the first one while the Rockets have won the last two.
While the teams will likely not see each other again until the state tournament, there’s a slight possibility the two squads could meet in a Chicago (Ill.) tournament.
“We have to learn how to stay composed with the ball,” Mitchell said. “We need to not be playing frantic. I think that comes with experience and time. Come October I feel like that we will be there and we will be playing with a lot more confidence.”