Sorry for the delay in publishing this, we had the St. Edward’s-LHP story and my own sinus cold that popped up Saturday.
Going into the game the key number was 10.
On March 11th, the two teams played in Delray and the final was 17-7. And Pine Crest HC Eileen Pliske told me that it had been running time at one point.
A tall order for any team.
Pine Crest even had to give up their home field advantage in the rematch since their campus is still not allowing spectators to watch at home, so the game was moved to Cardinal Gibbons, on a field that sometimes struggles to illuminate enough for play. Trust me, if there weren’t Pine Crest people in the booth with me who could read the numbers I’d have been . . . well, uninformed would be a good choice of word.
And then there is the McClain issue . . .
What do you do when your best player is the daughter of the other team’s head coach? That’s a pretty unique situation for all.
Heritage-Delray Head Coach John McClain has had to coach against his daughter multiple times and he mentioned after the game he’s thankful that this is behind him. Can’t blame him for that. I had enough trouble getting my son to take out the garbage without that complication.
The game played out like a slowly rising mountain that never really gave you a chance to catch your breath if you were PC. An early lead, gradually added to, but never really changed in their direction. A six-goal halftime lead that never broke below 5 or above 7 the whole second half.
It kind of kept the crowd out of the game too, as the fans settled into a plateau of emotion that matched the scoreboard.
There’s a few things you can’t teach in sports easily. Size is one and speed tends to be the other. Teams game plan to try to combat those two but there was one thing that no strategy could do Friday night and that was to handle AH-D’s speed in transition. The Girls’ rules make it even more difficult to do this since there’s no sending a message with a body check and reaching towards the stick risks the yellow card possibility of accidentally touching the head. Running backwards while keeping a lengthy pole held out also isn’t available.
So when AH-D would set up their clear it was the Hobson’s choice of trying to press up on the outlet pass options or pulling back quicker to plug up the clearing game but neither worked for PC. AH-D’s Alexandra Dorr was very effective early in the game at lengthy dashes through the PC ride and was able to generate transition opportunities for the attack, many of which were finished off in the first half. As the second half played out Delray took a more sedate pace on the clears but either way PC was not able to make any sustained turnovers. Two of their goals did come off offensive zone turnovers but both of them really were AH-D sloppiness and not the ride.
PC also tried to utilize a matchup based on speed by isolating Ella Bishara out on the wing and opened the center for her but it took until the second half for her impact to be felt. It’s interesting to me as more of a Boys’ writer to see both the similarities and contrasts in how offensive and defensive strategies translate to each other. And don’t think they don’t go both directions. After watching STA the first time on the Boys’ side I pointed out to HC Terry Crowley (who helps out on the Girls’ team too) how he had incorporated an offensive set that I watched AH-D run often.
Delray jumped out to a 4-0 lead after nearly 23 minutes of play as PC’s first goal came with 2:38 left in the first half, but from that point on Delray was able to open it up more with three goals in 46 seconds and at the half it was 8-2.
Delray’s Brooke Goldstein and Peyton Bezjak led the way in the first half, combining for 6 of the 8 goals and 2 assists, as Delray took advantage of their shooters hitting the net on 12 of their 13 attempts in the half.
In the second half it was Delray’s Payton Wainman scoring twice earlier in the half to keep PC from gaining momentum and Ashley Feinberg converted two free positions in the game. Marisa Cefola scored twice in the second half for PC.
The second half kind of meandered on as both teams had a two-goal run but spent most of the half swapping tallies, ending with the 13-8 final. Daughter McClain got her offense in but Father McClain found a way to keep her from bursting out in big numbers.
Now they can go back to normal . . . unless John gets talked into taking a college position in the Patriot League. I think his blood has thinned out by now.
Pretty rare game where both head coaches will miss the same player next year pretty much equally . . .
For Delray it’s on to the Final Four and a matchup with Community School of Naples. While trying to not look ahead there’s a lurking score to settle with the 2019 state champs, who gave them their only loss this season by one goal earlier in the season. Last year’s rubber match never happened . . . will it happen now?
Draw Controls: AH-D 15-7
Shots: AH-D 25-20
Shots on Goal: AH-D 22-13
Turnovers: 8 each team
Yellow Cards: AH-D with one
Brooke Goldstein 5G/1A
Payton Bezjak 2G/3A
Ashley Feinberg and Payton Wainman with 2G each
Alexandra Dorr 1G/1A
Casey Roberts 1G
Brianna Valdivieso with 10 saves
Marisa Cefola 3G
Taylor McClain 2G/1A
Ella Bishara 2G
Alex Gladding 1G
Lily Spyredes 2A
Sloan Shade 1A
Brianna Spatz with 9 saves
Thanks to Coach McClain and Coach Pliske for talking to me before and after the game