St. Mary’s Ryken sophomore field hockey player Katie Pappas and senior Julia Bowling, both captains, said they love the sound of the ball hitting the back of the goal.
Pappas and Bowling got that chance on Monday night when they teamed up on a penalty corner goal to put their team ahead 2-1 in the second half as the Knights captured their ninth win of the season with a 3-1 victory over Bishop Ireton (Va.) in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference quarterfinals.
Ryken will host Good Counsel at 5:30 today in the semifinals.
“Oh my God, that is like the best sound ever,” Bowling said of the field hockey ball hitting the back of the cage. “I always jump when we do it, I can’t help it.”
Knights head coach Tara Everly said she’s most proud of the way her young team played as a solid unit. The Knights did have 11 corners to Ireton three.
“It’s not about one player,” Everly said. “It’s about 11 people all doing their job. I do think we were a little bit shell-shocked [when Ireton scored first], but they came down and made the most of their opportunity. It was a bit of a wakeup call for us.”
Ireton junior forward Kendall Cunningham put the visitors on the scoreboard 5 minutes 18 seconds into the game on a corner shot after Bowling was called for a high stick.
Freshman forward Bella Evans-Riester answered back for the Knights with 16:46 left in the first half. Evans-Riester is one of two freshmen playing for the squad.
“It was really exciting,” Evans-Riester said. “I was really happy that we got it back. I have faith that we can do it [win over Good Counsel]. We have enough heart and so much talent on this team that I think we can bring it together. I hope we go to Maryland.”
Ryken stepped up the intensity and kept firing at Ireton sophomore goalie Anne McHugh (6 saves). On its eighth corner, Pappas sent a pass over to Bowling to put the Knights up 2-1.
“We just made that play up today actually,” Bowling said.
Pappas added, “Coach wants us to play every game with just as much heart and our thing is to give 100 percent for the whole 60 minutes. “I just kept saying, ‘I don’t want this game to be my last.’ We’re just going to work so hard in practice to prepare for Wednesday and stay composed.”
Ryken senior midfielder Macy McNair had been aiming all evening for the back of the goal and put the game away with her goal in the second half.
Ireton interim coach Betty Sixsmith, who coaches the junior varsity team, was filling in for her daughter who had just delivered a baby last week. Sixsmith said that she wants her young team to realize that they have the potential to beat anyone and that the future is bright for them.
“The last time we played them, we played them strong,” Sixsmith said. “You know, we are a brand-new program and sometimes losing becomes ‘OK’ and so since we played them well last time, I just wanted them to believe in themselves, so that was our goal today.”
Sixsmith said the score doesn’t reflect the play that her young team displayed and that they came out wanting it.
“I think they were in shock when they scored first,” Sixsmith said. “I said why am I the one excited, so … I keep saying that they’re going to be a team to be reckoned with in the future. They’re playing well.”