As the third seed out of District One, Gwynedd Mercy Academy was not projected to make the semifinals of the PIAA Class AA tournament, but it defied the odds. Unfortunately for the Monarchs, the dream of claiming a state title ended there.
Despite a great effort in the freezing cold, GMA fell to Wyoming Seminary 3-1 Tuesday night. Although the Monarchs scored first and created a decent amount of chances in both halves, Seminary had too much possession and skill on the ball for them to handle. They played really well, but they would have had to be almost perfect to win on this night.
"Wyoming is a great team,' GMA captain Christa Giordano said. "We definitely played our best. We were focusing and not giving up and playing Gwynedd hockey no matter how good they are. We just got caught playing defense and we did play our offensive game like we usually do.'
Seminary was the aggressor early, moving the ball well up the field and creating scoring chances. However, it was the Monarchs that came away with an unlikely first goal against the run of play. Haley Durkin calmly hit home a pass of a breakaway about 10 minutes into the game, giving GMA confidence despite seeing the minority of the ball.
The lead would not last long. Seminary punched in the equalizer on a scramble in front of net. Then, to make matters worse, they scored another that was a result of a pretty buildup less than two minutes later. It was difficult to give up the lead so quickly, but the Monarchs never gave up and continued to push when possible. They had a few more chances via corners at the end of the half, but went into halftime down 2-1.
"After that, the mentality was to play like we had nothing left to lose,' Giordano said. "At that point, if it was going to be our last game, we wanted to go out playing our way. We wanted to go out with a bang.'
Things went a little crazy in the second half. Seminary scored third goal of the game at 28:27 on a brilliantly taken penalty shot by Morgan Malone, her second goal of the game. After the clock was stopped for the goal, it restarted from 21:33. No one, including the officials, seemed to notice until late in the game that there had been time missing. It needs to be said that Gwynedd Mercy was robbed of seven minutes of playing time.
Even so, Seminary continued to outplay GMA. The Monarchs had a few scattered successful attacks, but they were chasing the ball on many occasions. Goalie Ava Rosati had six saves in net and played well enough not to let the game get away, but the two first-half goals and the converted penalty shot was more than enough for Seminary.
The loss will sting, especially because of the random loss of time, but the Monarchs can be proud of the 22-win season and a deep run in the state tournament.
"It's so disappointing because it has been so exciting to get to this point,' Giordano said. "I think this is the closest we've ever been. We are so proud of each other and what we accomplished this season.'