The motivation for Mount de Sales senior Gianna Antone to score a goal came well before she nestled into her spot at the top of the circle before the Sailors’ first penalty corner of the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference semifinal field hockey playoff game against visiting Annapolis Area Christian School.
The four-year varsity player, who ended up scoring two goals in the Sailors’ 3-0 victory on Thursday afternoon, had outerwear on her mind.
“I’ve been on varsity for four years now and right before the year that I came they won the championship and they all had championship jackets and that’s just my mindset to get a one of those jackets,” Antone said. “ I was the only one on the team who didn’t have one and I am in it for that jacket, like the championship is all that is on my mind right now, so when I hit the ball I was just thinking about the championship and I ripped it.”
Mount de Sales (13-6, 12-1 conference), who last won a title in 2013, will play St. Mary’s in the IAAM B Conference championship game at Archbishop Spalding.
Antone hit a rocket after the perfect insert pass from sophomore Logan Dean and the Sailors led 1-0 with just under 21 minutes left in the first half.
“She has a hard shot,” Annapolis Area Christian School coach Mallory O’Hara said.
It was the first penalty corner of the game for either team.
The Eagles got their first penalty corner with under 13 minutes left in the half.
Maggie Stallings inserted it to Sydney White and she left it for Bianca Iannicelli, but her shot was blocked in the circle.
Another corner ensued and Stallings had a shot on goal saved by de Sales keeper Heather Stofregen.
The rebound shot attempt by White was also saved by Stofregen.
They were the best scoring chances of the half for the Eagles against the stingy defense of Dean, Greta Lacey, Rachel Hornig and Hope Keller.
Mount de Sales threatened later in the half and a blocked shot attempt from Antone led to a sequence that led to a second goal by Antone after Abby Komiske’s shot was saved by Annapolis keeper Gracie Brewster.
“Abby Komiske took a shot and then I think she got the second rebound and then it came back at me again and I hit it and then I got the last rebound,” she said. “The first time I hit it right to the goalie, so I remembered my coach always says ‘Play around the goalie,’ because she was a keeper, so I thought play around the goalie and it slid right in.”
Mia Rehkemper also got a touch in the circle to keep the play alive.
Two goals in the first half from Antone, who will play at Towson University next season, was not a surprise for Mount de Sales coach XiaoYing Van Schaik.
“She always brings 150 percent,” coach Ying said. “She always has the hustle, both technically and tactically, which is very good as a senior, she sets an example for the rest of the team.”
The rest of the team fed off her energy and kept the Eagles out of the circle for most of the rest of the game.
Dean and Kate Ringstad had several stops in the midfield and defense in the second half any time the Eagles threatened.
“It was the whole team. We all stepped up,” coach Ying said. “We work a lot on consistency, playing all the way through and just really playing hockey. They really utilized everything that we’ve learned from the very start of the season, like they really focus on the details of the game, the hustle and the fundamentals and utilizing them to our benefit.”
The Sailors final goal came after Lindsay Kelly tipped a pass to Charlotte Lacey and she back-sticked it home.
Annapolis coach O’Hara had confidence, after her team only lost to the Sailors, 1-0, at home, after falling to them 4-2 earlier in the season on the road.
“They outplayed us, they have a great team, this is their home field, home turf, we are used to Bermuda, so got our home advantage when we played them,” O’Hara said.
Despite the loss, O’Hara praised her 9-7-2 squad that loses nine seniors, including: Iannicelli, White, Stallings, Courtney Fusting, Taylor Cho, Julia Moe, Abby Boyer, Alyssa Hall and Arianna Crawley.
“I cannot be prouder of these girls. They fought hard,” O’Hara said. “This team [de Sales] came out and they have great stick skills, they have a lot of movement which is really great. We talked to our girls about the mental game and staying strong and they kept fighting but we couldn’t find the net, we couldn’t finish.”
Antone admitted playing at home was an advantage, but not her main focus.
“We always do play better on our home turf because we are more hyped on our home turf, we know our strong spots and our weak spots and we know the cage and it’s a lot easier on our home turf,” Antone said. “But, the fact that it is playoffs, we want to win, that’s what gets us going.”