Emily Knapp just scored her Maryvale’s fifth consecutive goal Wednesday to cut the deficit against Notre Dame Prep to just one, 10-9. With the Lions coming in hot and continuing to win each draw, Blazers coach Mac Ford needed his team to make a stop.
“I think Maryvale did a great job of getting draws,” Ford said. “We were dominating getting draws in the first half and they were coming up with 50/50 balls in the second half. Give them a lot of credit. They turned it around, and I was telling the girls that momentum is an interesting thing. They turned that momentum around and they were getting all of the calls. That was the biggest difference.”
Notre Dame Prep (5-0) senior Annie Marshall led the way with three goals, punishing Maryvale’s defense and making smooth passes to her teammates for assists. She leans on those same teammates for their support, and as their team captain, she looks to lead by example.
“It felt great. I haven’t had the best beginning of the season,” Marshall said. “It felt good to finally be the leader that my team made me. It felt great and I love to get my teammates pumped up and I think that it really brought the energy. I really owe it all to my teammates, they’re looking at me and our defense to stop the ball and get it on offense in the first place.”
Notre Dame Prep senior attacker Halley Koras opened the game with a goal, but was answered by Maryvale’s Peyton Rowley. Peyton Howell netted the next goal for Notre Dame Prep. Then, Marshall scored three consecutive goals (13:45, 13:32, 12:29) to give her team a 5-1 lead. Rowley scored again with a little less than six minutes left in the first half.
Then Notre Dame Prep put its foot to the gas pedal, scoring three straight goals by Kailey Pelkey, Elizabeth Kane and Koras to lead 8-2 at halftime.
Emily Peek pushed Notre Dame Prep’s lead to 9-2 at the 23:26 mark in the second half. However, Maryvale never gave in.
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The comeback started with Rowley’s third goal (18:37) and Noel Cumberland’s first (16:03) to cut the deficit to 9-4. Nancy Halleron answered for Notre Dame Prep to make it 10-4, but Rowley added her fourth (12:57), followed by Annabelle Jackson (10:45), Lauren Savage (9:24), Jackson again (7:43) and Knapp (4:55) to trim the lead to 10-9.
It came down to Notre Dame Prep playing strong defense and keeping the ball on its half of the field for the remainder of the game. The Blazers played keep away to hold onto their 10-9 lead and the victory.
Lions (3-4) coach Kim Dubansky saw her team fight back in the second half. She yearns for that kind of effort for the entire game.
“It took us a little too long to adjust,” Dubansky said. “We were just talking about that. NDP plays a different defense than the other teams in the league. They play a zone defense and we’ve been practicing for it all week. It was kind of a matter of making those adjustments and in the second half, we really had some people step up. Noel Cumberland she just won the Lion Award and she gave us a burst of energy on the draws.”
Jackson scored two goals in the waning minutes of the game at the 10:45 and 7:43 marks. Within her performance is the chemistry that she’s built with Rowley over the years. The two were key to the Lions’ near-comeback and consistently put the defense on its heels.
“Peyton is incredible,” Jackson said. “She’s definitely one of my role models on the field. I’d say I’d like to play like her, she’s an awesome player. I think being able to practice with her every day and being able to play with her in games, we are constantly pushing each other to be better. The two-man just works all of the time with us. It just clicks for some reason. I think that we just mutually agree that we’re tired of being the underdogs and it’s time to get after it. We’re making teams like this scared.”