Mount de Sales coach Mary Gentner said she had only seen senior Mary Kate Halligan cry twice in her four-year field hockey career, and the second time came in the first half of Sunday’s Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference championship game when she was injured.
Halligan could be forgiven if she was crying tears of joy after scoring the game-winning goal with 5:05 left in the second overtime to give the Sailors (19-1) a 3-2 victory over Maryvale Prep (11-4-1) at Goucher College.
The play started with a penalty corner by Halligan and ended with her celebrating the Sailors’ second title in three years.
“I’m never going to forget it,” said Halligan, whose first pass went to junior Lacy Cole. “I took the insert and it went out to Lacy and she took a shot and it just bounced off the goalie’s pads and ended up right in front of the goal and I just sent it into the corner.”
Senior Mandy Ignacio, who had a goal and assist in the first half to give the Sailors a 2-0 lead, watched the game winner from the sideline, after she played in the first seven on seven 10-minute overtime.
“I was so nervous sitting down on the sideline holding my breath waiting,” said Ignacio, who will play lacrosse at Georgetown University. “Once I saw her get the ball I knew she would get it. It’s probably the last game I’ll ever play and I’m so happy.”
Goalie Eve Lukowski watched from the opposite end of the field after she had a breath-holding moment less than a minute before Halligan’s goal.
Maryvale’s Gabby Lago redirected a pass from Emma Boris that trickled inches wide.
“Laura Gretz and I both threw our bodies as far as we could and if it was a few degrees over I don’t think we would have got it,” Lukowski said. “I think our sticks would have been a second late, but for some reason it went out.”
After that escape, sophomore Mackenzie Griffith made a 90-yard sideline run that set up the winning penalty corner.
“The whole time I was just ‘keep going, keep going, keep going’ and I was hoping she wouldn’t trip or overrun the ball, but it was the smoothly dribble down the field,” Lukowski said.
She saw the game-winning goal more clearly.
“Watching Mary Kate was slow motion too,” Lukowski said. “I saw a tiny little space that she could shoot and then it hit the back of the goal. I think she is our unsung hero. She does everything right. For her to have the winning goal is the most deserving player I think.”
Gentner, who squad lost in the finals last year to Seton Keough, after winning the title over Maryvale Prep in 2011, was happy for the senior who was forced out in the first half after getting nailed by a ball.
“I think I’ve seen that kid in her four years cry twice and today was the second time,” Gentner said. “She is tough as can be and I iced her for five minutes and for her to come in like that as a senior and put in that winning goal — that’s one of those magical moments.”
The Sailors scored in the first five minutes for a 1-0 lead after a strong diagonal pass from senior Leah DiGiandomenico led to an assist from Riley Gentner to Ignacio.
With 13:35 remaining, Ignacio assisted DiGiandomenico for a 2-0 lead.
Maryvale kept the pressure on, thanks to strong midfield play from Mirando Ibello and spirited work by forwards Allison Carroll, Elena McWright and Maya Belin.
But they didn’t dent the cage until the final play of the half as Sailor defenders Lauren Hiltz, Hannah Ignacio and Laura Gretz bent, but didn’t break.
A penalty corner sent in by Cara Baldwin to Ibello was deflected by Lago to McWright for a goal with six seconds left in the half to break the shutout.
The Lions got the equalizer with 8:50 left in the second half.
Baldwin’s corner started a give and go with McKnight and Lauren Hudson that led to an assist from Ibello that was deflected in by Emma Boris.
“I feel like every shot I couldn’t see,” Lukowski said. “They had so many people in the circle that I think I was blinded most of the shots.”
The one thing she could see was her team celebrating an unbeaten season in the IAAM Conference (13-0, including playoffs), with the Sailors only loss coming against public school Catonsville, 3-2.
“It was going to end this way,” Lukowski said. “I didn’t see it any other way than coming in here and winning.”