Bruins defeat St. Tim’s, 3-1, in C finale; St. Mary’s blanks Severn for third B Conference title in four years
by Nelson Coffin
Top-seeded Park School’s Bella Palumbi was both a little lucky and very good on the most pivotal play in a 3-1 victory the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland C Conference final against second-seeded St. Timothy’s School on Saturday afternoon at Anne Arundel Community College.
St. Mary’s was just good in the second game of the doubleheader, capturing the B Conference crown for the third time in four years after a convincing 3-0 shutout of Severn School.
In the opener, with the score deadlocked at 1-1 with just under seven minutes remaining in regulation, Palumbi won a ball just inside the midfield line, slipped past a defender and headed toward the goal.
St. Tim’s goalie freshman Julia Liposky was caught in no-man’s land well outside the box as the sophomore midfielder sped toward her and tapped the ball toward the goal.
That’s when good luck came into play.
“My shot wasn’t very good, and it wasn’t going to go in,” Palumbi said. “But the goalie (Julia Liposky) hit it with the back of her foot (while diving headlong) and it ricocheted more toward the goal.”
Three minutes later, the Bruins (14-1 overall) upped the lead to 3-1 when senior midfielder Abby Stubb converted from Palumbi to seal a second consecutive conference crown.
St. Timothy’s (10-2-1) struck first in the 33rd minute when senior midfielder Lauren Streaker turned on a ball and slotted it into the far corner past diving Park senior keeper Simone Nikitina for a 1-nil advantage.
Park waited until the 37th minute to equalize when Palumbi rocketed a shot that Liposky deflected toward Bruins junior midfielder Lexi Mantilla, who one-timed it into the net.
Earlier, however, Park created several scoring chances that weren’t finished, including a shot by junior midfielder Anna Connors whistled over the goal and another by Stubb that was cleared off the line by St. Tim’s defender Annabelle Davies.
Connors just missed a couple of minutes later as well when she blasted a shot off the crossbar and Stubb was denied when Liposky cut down the angle on a hard forward charge to smother her shot.
The go-ahead goal was precipitated by Park goalie Andrew Gillis, who moved Palumbi up top with Carrie Davis to jump-start an offense that had been effectively held in check by St. Tim’s.
“In close games, we put Bella up there,” Gillis said. “But when you knock on the door long enough, sometimes the door opens.”
In the nightcap, St. Mary’s defenders, senior center back Grace Moore and her junior counterpart Hailee Murphy, controlled play in the defensive third and made things relatively easy for junior keeper Shelby Sullivan.
Although the Saints (12-6-1) were seeded third in the B Conference, they were top-notch at both ends of the field in stymying the No. 4 Admirals (12-9-2), who had knocked off top-seeded St. Paul’s School for Girls in a semifinal on Thursday.
Senior center midfielder Chloe Byrne, junior forward Lindsey Grady and freshman midfielder Amanda Roy scored goals for the Saints, with Byrne and senior forward Sarah DeWitt recording assists.
“We hit a few rough patches this year,” DeWitt said. “But then we started putting the ball in the net and started getting shutouts. When we put the ball in the back of the net, we can beat anybody.”
Severn assistant coach Lexi Niedoba said that the it was not the Admirals’ best performance.
“We had a game plan, but we didn’t follow it,” she said. “And St. Mary’s took advantage of its chances.”
St. Mary’s coach Sarah Molina said that it took awhile for the Saints to forge their own identity this fall.
“I was always reminding them that they had the potential to win,” Molina said. “But we had to stay true to ourselves. We had to stay Saints.”
Grady’s goal with 1:37 left in the opening half lit a fire under the Saints, who ramped up their pressure enough to double the lead in the 47th minute.
Byrne’s header off a corner kick with 14:31 remaining in regulation sealed the deal.
“To finish with three championships….,” DeWitt said. “It was icing on the cake.”