No. 1 Notre Dame Prep tops Garrison Forest for IAAM A field hockey repeat; St. Mary’s and Key School claim crowns (VIDEO HERE!)
2018 IAAM C CONFERENCE FIELD HOCKEY CHAMPIONS
KEY SCHOOL OBEZAGS
by Derek Toney and Donald Daniels
Notre Dame Prep’s field hockey team had a massive target on its back this season. The Blazers weren’t perfect, unlike last season, but they’re champions again.
Top-ranked Notre Dame Prep won its second straight IAAM A Conference title with a 3-1 victory over Garrison Forest School, 3-1, at Archbishop Spalding’s Whittles Field Sunday. St. Mary’s and Key School each reached championship status.
The Obezags defeated Friends School, 3-1, in the C finale. St. Mary’s won its first league championship with a 1-0 double overtime victory over Mount de Sales Academy.
The old adage, “defense win championships,” was proved true in the C title match. Senior defender Delaney Snowden came up with two goals and Angela Harris had 10 saves as Key held off top-seeded Friends.
“We talked about positioning on the field and making sure that we didn’t put too high,” Key coach Jen Langdon said. “Delaney [Snowden] was there to back up the girls, she sees the next pass and she knows where to put the ball to the girls can make the right play.”
Sophomore Addison Neise gave Key (12-6 overall) the lead, nine minutes into the opening half, off an Elizabeth Hughes assist. Friends (12-4) countered with a Sofia Geocadin tally from 3 yards outside the cage on the right side.
“I really didn’t want to go overtime, so I really picked things up and my team really helped me by making easy chances,” Snowden said.
Key and Snowden took over in the second half. She evaded a defender and poked the ball into left corner of the cage, giving the Obezags the lead for good with 16 minutes left in game.
About six minutes later, Snowden knocked in her second goal. She helped stymied Friends’ offense, breaking up several possessions at midfield.
The road to the championship wasn’t easy for Key, which dealt with several injuries. The Obezags, the No. 3 seed, won at second-seed Mercy Thursday to reach Whittles Field.
It’s Key’s first championship since 2015.
“There were so many obstacles that we had to face this season, but the girls just kept working hard and I am proud of the effort,” Langdon said.
2018 IAAM B CONFERENCE FIELD HOCKEY CHAMPIONS
ST. MARY’S SAINTS
It was several firsts for St. Mary’s Sunday. In its first season in the B, the Saints (14-3-1) captured their first IAAM championship.
And they can thanks first-year player, freshman Gracie Driggs, for making their championship hopes a reality. Driggs knocked Mia Haschert’s shot in the 67th minute, breaking the heart of top-seeded Mount de Sales (13-7).
First-year coach Kaitlyn Marsh wasn’t surprised the youngest player on the Saints’ roster came through.
“Gracie Driggs is great, a great athlete,” said Marsh. “She didn’t have her best game today and she turned it on in overtime.”
After more than two dozen penalty corners and a couple of near misses, the Sailors and Saints played a scoreless regulation. In the first 10-minute overtime period, Spira Rosseau garnered a penalty stroke after being fouled from behind, but Sailors goalie Heather Stofregen made a kick save to keep the match going.
Driggs finally ended the scoreless drought as well as St. Mary’s title pursuit. Off a penalty corner, Driggs enter the ball and Haschert and Molly McAteer tried to force the ball in. Driggs came in and became the most popular student at St. Mary’s Monday.
“It’s so cool to do this,” Driggs said. “I can’t believe it.”
It was an unbelievable conclusion for St. Mary’s, which moved to the B after winning one league game in the A last fall and five over the prior three seasons.
“We came to the B conference with a lot to prove and the girls worked hard and they did it,” said Marsh.
2018 IAAM A CONFERENCE FIELD HOCKEY CHAMPIONS
NOTRE DAME PREP BLAZERS
Notre Dame Prep rebounded from an early assault from the upset-minded Grizzlies, becoming the first program to go back-to-back in the area’s premier conference since Garrison Forest (2010-2012). The win capped another perfect run (14-0 including playoffs) in league play.
Julia Kraft, Natalie Friedman and Rachel Borzynowski each scored for the Blazers (20-1 overall).
“To stay No. 1 the entire season with a target on our back…these kids have just fought day in and day out,” said Notre Dame Prep coach Katrina Ross.
Last year, the Blazers were the hunter, emboldened by the 2016 final loss to McDonogh School. The Hampton Road school captured its first crown (defeated Garrison Forest) and first perfect season (18-0).
This year, Notre Dame Prep had a daunting non-league slate to go along with the IAAM A grind. The Blazers lost to Arundel, ending a 32-game win streak.
It got Notre Dame Prep’s attention.
“Arundel’s a great team. I don’t think we played to our potential, but it was a wake up call,” said senior Julia Kraft. “We were undefeated last season and had a lot of pressure on us this year. We knew we had to come back stronger.”
“We played great hockey, we just didn’t finish,” said Ross. “We learned from it and we moved on.”
The Blazers got an early jolt Sunday from Garrison Forest (17-3), which got a goal from Riley Patro in the game’s 7th minute. The Owings Mills school had six penalty corners in the 10 minutes.
Kraft (American University), one of 13 Division I commits on the Blazers’ roster, got her stick on Meredith Medvetz’s penalty corner entry pass, tying the game with about 8:40 remaining in the half.
Kraft said she got the shot off between her legs.
“It wasn’t within eye sight,” said Kraft. “It was very reassuring that we were still in it.”
Friedman got the lead for Notre Dame Prep midway in the second half, ripping a shot from about 10 yards. Four minutes later, Rachel Boryzmowski converted on a penalty stroke, making it 3-1.
“We just knew we had to get composed and finish out, just like we did last year,” said Friedman, whose team rebounded from a 1-0 deficit to Garrison Forest in last year’s title match. “We didn’t get frantic. We just played our game.”
Garrison Forest, looking for its first title since its historic three-peat run earlier this decade, appeared to answer with a penalty corner score at the 10-minute mark, but was ruled to have to hit off of Blazers goalie’s Brooke Borzymowski’s leg.
Despite a second straight final loss, Grizzlies coach Traci Davis was proud of her team’s effort.
“This was a really special group of girls who connected on and off the field,” said Davis. “How they’ve grown together is what we as coaches will be most proud of, and hopefully, is what they’ll remember when the sting wears off. This is going to hurt a bit.”
While exorcising the pain of 2016 was the motivation for Notre Dame Prep last fall, Ross said sending off her seniors with another IAAM A crown was the catalyst this season.
“This team is just special. They have worked extraordinary hard, but these kids came to us with the talent,” said Ross, last fall’s VSN Coach of the Year. “It takes a community to build a team like this… I have benefitted from it as the coach lucky enough to get them at this level.”