Madison Callahan and Taylor Glover, along with their Manchester Valley field hockey teammates, had been waiting a long time for an effort like the one they put forth in the first half of Tuesday’s playoff game against county rival Winters Mill.
The Mavericks haven’t produced many goals this fall, let alone wins. But they haven’t stopped working toward success, first-year coach Whitney Stonesifer said.
So when the Falcons scored first, Gannon said she looked for something supernatural, perhaps, to get her team going.
“As soon as they start to score, it’s that magic that they get,” Stonesifer said. “I think that has definitely improved, being able to score early and score often.”
Man Valley did just that, posting four goals in a 13-minute stretch late in the first half en route to a 5-2 victory in a Class 2A West Section 1 quarterfinal.
“The past couple of games we’ve struggled with that,” senior midfielder Taylor Glover said. “Just getting that one goal. And then once we get that, we get that adrenaline rush. And we just … go at it.”
Glover scored first for the Mavericks (5-10), who took control after that. They trailed 1-0 when Glover took a crossing pass from Madison Callahan, a senior forward, and smacked in the equalizer.
With 5 minutes left in the first half, freshman defender Madison Fisher put Man Valley ahead 2-1. Less than 2 minutes later, junior forward Eva Bowers pushed the ball into the cage. When Bryce Doran, another junior forward, cleaned up a loose ball from close range with 80 seconds remaining in the half, the Mavericks led 4-1.
Man Valley snapped a five-game losing streak and had its second biggest goals total of the year. The Mavs also took down the Falcons (4-11) for the second time this year — they hadn’t won since beating them 2-1 on Oct. 2, and managed only three goals during their losing streak.
Credit the turnaround to a better collective mindset with the playoffs upon them, Glover said.
“I feel like practices are more focused, and we’ve already worked through the kinks,” she said. “Now it’s just the little things that we’re working on. Everything just comes together about this time of the season, and everybody knows that this could be our last game.”
Winters Mill grabbed the lead with 19 minutes remaining in the first half when senior Megan Thomas scored on her team’s first penalty-corner attempt. Thomas got an assist from sophomore Allie Williams on the goal.
The Falcons tried to mount a late comeback, and senior Michaela Naccarini slapped in a goal with 11:16 to go by staying with the play and not letting Manchester Valley’s defense to start a transition.
The breakaway goal cut MV’s lead to 4-2, but the Mavericks responded when Callahan notched a goal at the 1:57 mark to add a little insurance.
Winters Mill loses Thomas, Naccarini, and defender Julie Fowble to graduation, but the Falcons likely return a bulk of their roster for next season.
“I’ve got a lot of skill, I’ve got a lot of knowledge,” coach Christine Bradley said about WM’s makeup. “Now they’re more aggressive, they’re scoring. They’re all very positive, they’re all very strong. I can’t ask for a nicer group of girls each year.”
Callahan said trailing early in the game wound up being a positive for Manchester Valley, which advances to face Carroll County Athletic League champion Liberty in the next round Thursday.
“Looking back at our past games, it’s a recurring thing so we know now that we have to work together,” she said.
Added Stonesifer: “One of the things I told them was, the entire first part of the season was kind of like Chapter One of our season. And that’s already written, so you can’t change it. This part right now, playoffs, is a whole new game.”
Goals: MV-Taylor Glover, Madison Fisher, Eva Bowers, Bryce Doran, Madison Callahan; WM-Megan Thomas, Michaela Naccarini.
Assists: MV-Callahan; WM-Allie Williams.
Saves: MV-5 (Madison Smith 3, Hannah Yaede 2); WM-8 (Sarah Ritchey).
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Halftime: MV, 4-1.