TOWAMENCIN — The speedy Meg Duvernois, a hard player to mark all throughout Tuesday's semifinal contest, scored with just a minute and 46 seconds to go to give Merion Mercy a 2-1 upset victory over top-seeded Gwynedd Mercy Academy.
The victory sends the fifth-seeded Golden Bears to Saturday's District 1-AA Final to take on the winner of the Upper Perk-Villa Maria matchup. GMA will play in the third-place game to try and secure the final spot in states.
After dominating play for much of the second half, Duvernois lifted a shot in from about eight yards out, putting the Golden Bears (17-4) in front for good with her second score of the contest.
"We definitely had our opportunities,' Merion Mercy coach Dani DeLeo said. "It just took us a while to put it in. It was just a great hustle play (by Meg). We knew Ava (Rosati) plays out a little bit - she's a really good goalie, and we knew if we could get her biting a little bit early, hopefully we'd able to get a good tip. Megan stayed with it.'
Merion brought a collection of highly-skilled, club-team players to the turf at North Penn and put on an impressive show. As a result, the Golden Bears are headed to states for the first time since 2007.
"We've got some great hockey in the Catholic Academies League so I'm very proud of our league and I'm very proud of the way the girls played today and responded,' said DeLeo, whose team split the regular-season series with the rival Monarchs.
GMA was able to take a 1-0 lead a little over 10 minutes in, as Corinne Persichetti smacked a hard shot into the right corner to put the Monarchs in front.
GMA also generated some pressure by utilizing the speed of Nicole Catalino, but it wasn't enough.
"Corinne and Nicole's combinations are a beautiful thing but they need support around them,' coach Sue Persichetti said. "Our girls have athleticism and speed but as far as knowing the game as well as a seasoned group of six players who play together a lot, that's tough. But I'm proud of them. They can't do anything but learn from today, different combinations that they need to look out for on turf like this, from very skilled club players.'
With 10:31 to go before halftime, Merion got the ball in close, with Cathy Gormley and Duvernois there to try and knock it in, and it was Duvernois who got her stick on it to even the score at one apiece.
The game remained tied 1-1 until the Golden Bears' pressure paid off in the final two minutes.
"Gwynedd's an excellent team,' DeLeo said. "They're well-coached, so I'm just so proud of my girls.'
The Monarchs now focus in on a shot at states.
"There's things we can learn from this game and we have to move forward,' coach Persichetti said.
Merion Mercy 2,
Gwynedd Mercy Academy 1
District One Class AA Semifinals
at North Penn
(5) Merion Mercy 1 1 - 2
(1) Gwynedd Mercy 1 0 - 1
GMA: Corinne Persichetti, 19:19; MM: Meg Duvernois, 10:31
MM: Duvernois, 1:46
Shots: Merion Mercy 10; GMA 14
Penalty Corners: Merion Mercy 7; GMA 11
Saves: Lauren Thomas (MM) 5; Ava Rosati (GMA) 7
Follow Kev Hunter on Twitter @khunter10
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