By Katherine Dunn
John Carroll’s field hockey team showed off a rejuvenated attack during the B Conference tournament, but the Patriots needed a huge defensive stand in the final seconds to seal their championship.
Goalie Alexis Loder and her defense fought off a Bryn Mawr surge after a penalty corner with 15 seconds left to preserve a 2-1 victory over the Mawrtians in the title game Sunday at Archbishop Spalding.
Loder, who finished with five saves, stopped a shot in the final seconds after the Mawrtians earned a penalty corner with 15 seconds to go.
The senior goalie credited her entire corner unit, which has played together for three years, with holding off the Mawrtians, who had three penalty corners and pressed for the tying goal through most of the final 16 minutes.
“At that point when time’s running out, the only goal we have is to get the ball out of the circle and the game’s over and we won,” Loder said.
“We all knew what we had to do and we just executed that really well. When they got a shot off, we were just calm and collected and we were able to clear that.”
The Patriots won their fourth B Conference championship in six years but the first for any player on this team which includes 11 seniors.
“Winning this, it’s indescribable,” Loder said. “This team has become my family over the past four years. We spent so much time together. We have so many fun memories together and to be able to end it all with a win like this, it just means so much.”
During the regular season, the Patriots did not score a single goal on any of the three teams they would meet in the tournament.
Last week, however, something clicked in the quarterfinal, coach Alice Puckett said, and the Patriots went on to outscore their tournament opponents 9-2.
Jamie Alatzas and Emma Campitelli scored second-half goals Sunday for the Patriots (13-5), who finished 3-4 in the conference and were seeded fifth in the eight-team field.
To reach the final, they avenged a 1-0 overtime loss to Severn with a 4-0 win and a 2-0 loss to top-seeded Mount de Sales with a 3-1 semifinal win.
“On Wednesday,” Puckett said, “when we started our run at Severn, I said, ‘Girls, we have as much talent as any team we’ve played. It is the will to win. You’ve got to believe you can win,’ and we scored four goals that day. That just gave them that confidence they needed I guess.”
Against second-seeded Bryn Mawr (10-4-1), the Patriots fell behind for the first time in the tournament.
The Mawrtians, who won the regular-season game 2-0, took the lead midway through the first half, when Karoline Sevier scored on a three-on-one break.
Early in the second half, junior forward Alatzas tied the game on a penalty corner. Helen Butler sent the hit from the top into the circle. The ball ricocheted around and rolled across toward the left post where Alatzas popped it into the cage.
Campitelli scored the game winner 10 minutes later, carryng the ball from the midfield to the cage for a 2-1 lead with 17:28 left.
The Mawrtians had hoped to bring home their first championship since they won the A Conference title in 2009. Coach Jeannette Budzik, who returned to coach Bryn Mawr’s varsity this fall for the first time in five years, guided them to five A Conference championships between 1999 and 2009.
“When we were first coming in, I knew we had a younger team and they didn’t have a lot of tournament experience and so it was just getting them mentally ready about what it is to compete and they really handled it beautifully. That’s why we’re here,” Budzik said. “They listened to what we said and they practiced hard and there was just a lot of maturity and growth as athletes which I think was one of the most impressive things and something I really appreciate about this team.”
With only four seniors — Marguerite Dittmar, Inara Jalisi, Ashley Fearey and Alexandra Redrik — the Mawrtians hope to be back in the title game next season.
The Patriots, who gave Puckett her 401st career win, send 11 seniors out with the championship — Loder, Butler, Kate Gromacki Ellie Bruggeman Ryleigh Casserly, Gabbi Meyer, Sophia Shukla, Kendall Rittmeyer, Katelyn Patrick, Brooke Smitt and Emma Balint.