St. Paul’s head coach Mary Gagnon likes to think the resiliency to face off against the toughest opponents has been one of the biggest keys to her team’s success this spring.
So fittingly, despite being down 5-0 at one point in the first half against host Glenelg Country Wednesday evening, the Gators were undeterred. St. Paul’s came back to tie the game by the end of regulation and then eventually prevailed 9-8 in double overtime to advance into Saturday’s IAAM A Conference championship game against top-seeded McDonogh.
“This is typical for us. We’ve been fighting all season long,” Gagnon said. “It seems like we just keep having things happen, but we just keep fighting back. This is probably our sixth or seventh overtime game this season and we lost like four in a row and we just won two in a row. We’ve been in that situation and they believe in themselves.”
Earlier in the season, Glenelg Country defeated St. Paul’s in double-overtime 8-7. However, the tide would turn for St. Paul’s in the playoffs, as it defeated Gerstell 10-7 in the opening round and then upset Notre Dame Prep in the quarterfinals 9-8, before defeating Glenelg Country on Wednesday.
Leading the way for St. Paul’s was senior midfielder Shelton Sawers — scoring two goals in the second half with 19:24 and 8:47 remaining. She then added the game-winning goal with 1:06 left in the second overtime.
St. Paul’s attacker Angie Pino and midfielder Alex Pirisino were the second-leading goal scorers for the team.
Pino scored St. Paul’s first goal with just 1:28 left in the opening half. It was swiftly followed by Pirisino’s two goals under the minute mark to cut Glenelg Country’s lead to 5-3 at halftime.
Glenelg Country attacker Jaclyn Marszal scored in the first minute of the second half, but St. Paul’s scored soon after courtesy of attacker Maddie Sheffs’ goal in the third minute. After trading blows for much of the second half, St. Paul’s tied Glenelg Country with Sawers’ first goal and took the lead with her second.
For the first time in the game, Glenelg Country trailed. After a roaring call from her teammates, senior midfielder Shay Ahearn tied the game at 8-8 with 1:13 left regulation.
The first overtime saw much of the possession of the ball in the sticks of Glenelg Country. It ended with more suspense, heading into the second overtime.
St. Paul’s held onto the ball for much of the second overtime and Sawers finished the job.
“She’s a senior and I’m glad for her,” Gagnon said of Sawers. “I’m glad for her — she’s worked so hard all season long, just as all of them. I know she had one [a shot] were she didn’t [score]. I think more than anyone else she was glad that she had the second chance in this game particularly to do that. And she wanted it in her stick — that’s what senior leadership does — she wanted that shot. I’m glad that she took it.”
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The championship game against against McDonogh (20-0) on Saturday will be at 4 p.m. at Gerstell Academy.