EAST MARLBOROUGH >> It sometimes takes a while for young teams to gel. Villa Maria, which lost seven starters at graduation last spring, seems to be getting hot at the right time. After a weekend win over Downingtown West, the top-ranked Class 3A District 1 side, the Hurricanes saw four different players score in a convincing 7-2 out-of-league field hockey win over Unionville on Monday afternoon.
“The girls really support each other,” Villa coach Katie Evans said. “It’s a great environment where the girls feel confident and know they can push forward when they need to. It’s a young group that is becoming a solid team.
In the first 15 minutes, the two teams played each other as closely as they could. Neither team was able to put much pressure on the cage, with each team forcing a single penalty corner opportunity, and the game went into the second period in a scoreless tie.
Then Villa (9-5 overall) woke up.
Minutes into the second half, Villa pulled off a stretch, scoring three goals in less than three minutes. The first came from Caitlin Connell, with an assist for Caitlin Files. Files followed with an unassisted count just over a minute later and then Gia Whalen assisted on a Colby Gannon goal.
“Finally, getting on the board was important to us,” Connell said. “It took a lot of passing and working on the midfield. Once we got that one, it felt like we needed to get another one fast and keep building on that lead.
Whalen, who scored twice in the afternoon, made it 4-0 when she found the back of the net with 4:30 left in the half.
“At the start of the season, we were such a young team that we felt really good,” said Whalen, who will take his talents to the University of Iowa next year. “We’ve worked on team cohesion off the field and off field hockey, and we’ve built strong bonds. We are a team right now. »
Unionville (8-5) finally entered the table midway through the third, when Molly Main scored unassisted, but Villa responded straight away, scoring on a Connell goal.
Main struck again just before the end of the period to cut the lead to 5-2, but it would be the last gasp for the Longhorns.
The Hurricanes added a pair of fourth-period goals from Erin Mitchell and Viola Diorio to make it 7-2.
Villa outscored the Longhorns by a 16-4 margin and forced nine corners, Unionville only four.
“We faced a lot of very tough opponents at the start of the year,” Whalen said. “The type of schedule we played helped us learn, grow and gain confidence, and it prepared us well for the type of competition we will see in the post-season. We played very well and got a lot of shots on goal from a lot of different players.
The Hurricanes will have a chance to redeem themselves today as they get a rematch with AACA rival Gwynedd Mercy. Villa went down 3-1 against the Griffins the first time they met this season.
“We’ve taken the attitude that it’s not a wins and losses column, it’s a wins and lessons column,” Evans said. “The schedule allows us to learn the lessons we need to learn to be successful in the playoffs. I think what you’re seeing is a team coming together in the second half because of lessons learned early on.
Villa Maria 7, Unionville 2
Villa Maria 0 4 1 2 – 7
Unionville 0 0 2 0 – 2
Villa Maria goals: Connell 2, Whalen 2, Gannon, Mitchell, Diorio.
Unionville Goals: Main 2.
Goalie saves not available.