By Harry Chaykun
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/23/19
Some of the members of the Cabrini University athletic staff were talking as they sat through the weather delay that held up the start of the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association championship game Thursday afternoon at Edith Robb Dixon Field for more than 30 minutes.
“It’s usually Episcopal Academy playing Agnes Irwin here,” one said.
Episcopal – the Inter-Ac League champion – was unable to participate in this year’s PAISAA playoffs because of scheduling conflicts with school-related activities. The Academy of Notre Dame, which had been knocked out of the previous two tournaments in the semifinal round, made its first appearance in the title match Thursday.
Today, the 11 Irish seniors can prepare for their June 1 graduation ceremony knowing that they will leave Notre Dame as members of the class that finally earned a PAISAA championship after their 12-10 comeback victory over two-time defending champion Agnes Irwin Thursday.
Notre Dame fell behind, 6-3, at halftime, then scored the first five goals of the second half in less than five minutes and did not trail again.
“Being new to the finals, we were a little nervous at the start,” Irish head coach Xan Zimatore said. “But I knew our seniors were happy about getting here today, and they wanted to make the most of their chance.
“We have 11 seniors, and they’ve been great leaders. I think since we got knocked out last year by Agnes Irwin, their goal was to beat them this year.”
Georgie Gorelick, who finished with three goals, got two in the first 3½ minutes following halftime. Claire Gola, who had one goal and one assist in the opening half, scored twice in 20 seconds after a Gorelick tally, putting Notre Dame (18-3) ahead, 8-6. It took Gola 26 seconds after a Natalie Pansini 8-meter connection for Agnes Irwin to put the Irish back ahead by two goals.
Emily Wills and Natalie Cockran pulled the Owls (18-7) even with 16 minutes to play, but Gola again had the answer for ND, assisted by Mikayla Dever, two minutes later. Hannah Bodner and Riley Gillin came up with Notre Dame’s final two goals.
“It was all about finishing strong for the seniors,” said Gola, who will play at Boston University. “We’d lost some games with Agnes Irwin before, but we were able to beat them each time we played them this year.
“We knew we could use our 1-v-1 matchups. We switched things up on draw controls and we knew Maggie (O’Brien, who had five of her eight draw controls in the second half) would be there to get the ball.”
A 9-4 draw control advantage after halftime gave the Irish much more possession time.
“Having possession all that time meant so much for us,” Zimatore said.
Gorelick’s goal during the opening ND run in the second half was her 100th.
“I didn’t know I was that close to 100,” she said. “Getting that goal and winning the championship gives me two special memories to take out of this game.”
Freshman Marissa White scored three goals and added an assist, and Julianne Carey and Pansini chipped in with two goals apiece for Agnes Irwin, which had its second-half opportunities cut down by solid Notre Dame defensive play as well as eight turnovers. Sophomore Paige Crowther turned away 11 shots in goal for AI.
“We were happy to be here after losing to them in the semifinals two years in a row,” defender Belle McHugh said. “Our theme this year has been ‘This Is It,’ so we did our best to play our hardest and get things done.
“We might not have been able to beat Episcopal (Academy) in our Inter-Ac games. But we did get to win the last game of our season, and it will be something for us to remember.”
Notre Dame Academy 12, Agnes Irwin 10
Agnes Irwin 6 4 – 10
Notre Dame 3 9 – 12
Marissa White 3G 1A
Julianne Carey 2G
Natalie Pansini 2G
Brynn Ammerman 1G 2A
Emily Wills 1G
Natalie Cockran 1G
Paige Crowther (AI) 11 saves
Academy of Notre Dame
Mikayla Dever- 1g, 2a, 1gb
Hanna Bodner- 2g, 2gb
Georgie Gorelick- 3g, 1a, 1gb (100th career goal)
Belle McHugh- 1gb, 2ct
Maggie O’Brien- 6gb, 8dc, 2ct
Claire Gola- 5g, 2a, 3gb, 4dc, 1ct
Riley Gillin- 1g, 3gb, 1dc
Grace Bleckley- 2dc
Lindsay Barnes- 1gb, 1dc, 1ct
Morgan O’Brien- 2gb, 2ct
Anna Grace Coyne- 2gb
Quinn Sullivan – 4 saves
Pennsylvania Independent Schools Championship
2011 – Episcopal Academy 14, Penn Charter 6
2012 – Episcopal Academy 9, Notre Dame 7
2013 – Episcopal Academy 19, Friends’ Central 10
2014 – Friends’ Central 13. Agnes Irwin 11
2015 – Agnes Irwin 14, Episcopal Academy 4
2016 – Episcopal Academy 8, Agnes Irwin 5
2017 – Agnes Irwin 14, Episcopal Academy 7
2018 – Agnes Irwin 12, Episcopal Academy 7
2019 – Academy of Notre Dame 12, Agnes Irwin 10