September 10th, 2017

Assumption defeats SHA to win the MUG again

Block_eric thorne

Eric Thorne

Staff Writer

Assumption defeats SHA to win the MUG again
Assumption's Cassidy Sweeney battles Sacred Heart's Mary Kate Kessler for a ball / photo by Eric Thorne

Sometimes the simple things in life and sports can be so easily forgotten.

It was the case with Assumption’s field hockey and Coach Debbie Judd had seen enough just 11 minutes into the rivalry MUG game against host Sacred Heart. Her team received her message and went onto defeat the Valkyries 3-1 Sunday night.

“We haven’t been communicating and doing the simple things all year,” Judd said. “We weren’t talking. We weren’t passing. We weren’t doing the little things we talked about in pregame. They calmed down and were just playing too frantic, but then it’s a very emotional rivalry game.”

After a very sluggish start where Sacred Heart (6-3) controlled the tempo and kept the ball at the Rockets end of the field, Assumption suddenly came to life.

“We got the complex things down and they have gobs of talent, but you have to do the simple things,” Judd said. “After the rough start, they starting doing the simple things and that’s what won it for us.”

With their first corner of the game, Erica Cooper found an open seam and sent a shot on goal that found its mark and the Rockets led 1-0 with 11:39 left in the half.

“I’ve been working on the move where I act like I’m going to hit it and then pull back and then hit it,” Cooper said. “I think we needed to get that first goal and set the tone.”

Cooper is one of 11 seniors on the Rocket team that is looking to repeat as state champions.

“As seniors this is our time to shine and this game means so much and we want to win it badly,” Cooper said. “We are the big dogs on the team and we need to show the younger ones how much it means.  We have to show them what it means when they grow up to be seniors. Our mindset this year is to win every game we play.”

Following that goal it was the Valkyries that found themselves playing defense for much of the remainder of the half.

“We wanted to come out strong with a lot of intensity, but we didn’t maintain that intensity and it cost us with that first goal and ultimately the game,” Sacred Heart senior Abby Birk said. “That has been the coaches message all year is we have to play 60 minutes of hockey, and we didn’t do that and Assumption outplayed us.”

The Rockets (3-2) continued to press the pace in the second half and at the 16:20 mark set up for their eighth corner of the half. Senior Ashley Willbur fired a shot on goal that fellow senior Camyrn Pichea deflected into the net for a 2-0 lead.

“We needed to communicate better and that’s something we haven’t been doing so far,” Cooper said.  “We have been playing for ourselves and not as a team, but against CAL we started to do better passing and talking. This game it was pass, pass, pass and not dribble, dribble, dribble.”

It was a wakeup call for Sacred Heart who worked every angle of the field trying to find some rhythm and offense.

With 8:31 left and huddled around their coach Eleanor Mitchell, who drew up the play to break the drought, Sacred Heart hit the scoreboard.

After finally getting a corner with 6:30 left the pass came into Birk, who found herself unguarded as her teammates broke in different directions. The senior sent a blistering shot that was true into the net.

“Our coaches called the play and Maddie (Tabor) did a great job faking out the rush and I just slipped behind her and was free,” Birk said. “I had a very small window because their players are fast, but it’s good to see that opening and get the shot to go in the goal.”

“We’re going to take this game and learn with a lot of adjustments and it’s in the past now and prepare for our last few weeks of hockey,” Birk said. “We didn’t play our best for sure today and it’s hard to get momentum back when you get down.”

While the Rockets could have flinched and watched the momentum change – they didn’t.

Just 79 seconds later senior Cassidy Sweeney fired a shot off the Sacred Heart goal keeper that ricocheted into the net.

“I think this game one you point to where you can connect as a team and with each other, especially as seniors,” Sweeney said. “If you win this game it’s a huge confidence booster and shows you are getting your act together aiming for that state title. Five games into the season is where you tend to click and play off each other.”

Sweeney knew that Birk’s goal could have meant a big shift in intensity, but was proud the way her team responded.

“Tonight we were really communicating and supporting each other out there and our head’s never dropped down,” Sweeney said. “We know what it’s like to win and what it’s like to lose. We just kept our act together out there tonight.”

The Rockets have now won the past three Mug games after a scoreless tie in 2014.

“We are not anywhere near our potential, but as long as they keep improving I’ll be happy,” Judd said. “We were awful in the Apple Tournament due to those little things, but right now all we have to do is keep building.”


Recent Articles