Both the varsity girls' soccer and field hockey teams entered the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association (PAISAA) tournament as number three seeds, making the likelihood of a championship low.
"Seeding isn't something we worry too much about," shared Athletic Director and Field Hockey Coach Gina Buggy, Hon. "All season our teams work hard, stay focused on the next game on the schedule, and play for team, not self."
After beating rival Notre Dame (1-0) in the semi-final round, EA field hockey headed to the PAISAA final on Tuesday, November 13 against number one seed and Inter-Ac champs Germantown Academy. "We had our work cut out for us. The team knew it would be a battle to the end," said Buggy. And what a battle it was. "We never flinched."
After a 2-0 lead, GA notched three unanswered goals. By the end of regulation play, the score was tied at 3-3, so the teams went to a 7 v. 7 sudden-death overtime. With no score, it was on to a shootout. "Before today we haven't had a game decided like that," said Buggy, who has coached EA field hockey for 32 years. "I was really hoping their determined mindset would propel them to victory, and I think it did. The team believed in each other, and they were determined to find a way to win," said Buggy.
EA scored two goals in the shootout. With huge saves by EA goalie Caroline Kelly, the final score was 5-4. EA last won the PAISAA Championship in 2015.
Twenty-four hours later EA saw a repeat of sorts as the varsity girls' soccer team took the field under the lights at Immaculata University for the PAISAA Championship game against The Baldwin School.
"At practice we were live streaming the game and were so ecstatic finding out field hockey won. It definitely gave us the extra push and confidence going into Wednesday," said soccer co-captain Maddie Loughead.
"It adds to a player's confidence going into the game, seeing their peers successful in the same game," observed Varsity Girls' Head Soccer Coach Andy Fraggos.
EA girls' soccer lost in the PAISAA finals in two of the previous three seasons. "The seniors that were involved in both of those losses didn't plan on feeling the pain of losing the final game again," shared Fraggos. "We knew that it would take the entire team to have a strong performance to get the win, and we couldn't rely on a few players."
Senior co-captain Olivia Dirks and senior Anna Salvucci both scored. Regulation play ended in a 3-3 tie. EA again went to a shootout.
Sophomore goalie Allie Bush stood strong in goal throughout the game. "Allie saved two PKs to set up Maddie Loughead to convert the final penalty for the win," explained Fraggos. "Free kicks are not something we practice all season. But in our practices leading up to the finals, we did spend some time practicing them. To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to going into penalty kicks versus Baldwin, because they had just defeated Penn Charter in the semifinals in PKs. I knew they would be going into the kicks with confidence from the week before."
With her right quad tightly wrapped, Maddie took the final shot. "I did not think about much while walking up to take the PK except to just focus on taking my time and repeating how I had practiced," said Maddie. "It felt like the perfect note to end the season and the seniors' EA soccer career."
"The fact that Allie Bush saved the final two Baldwin kicks to set up Maddie Loughead to bury the game-winner was quite spectacular," said Fraggos.
"I am so delighted that both sports could win. It's such a great mark to leave the season with as seniors and definitely shows how talented both teams were this season and demonstrates the strength of EA sports," said Maddie.
"Just five days after winning the Banner against The Agnes Irwin School, it was certainly a thrilling week for EA Athletics!" remarked Coach Buggy. "One, let alone two, championship wins in a shootout is very unusual. Both were very special wins for special teams. I am not sure my heart could have taken much more."