SOUTH CENTRE — The first goal, just three minutes into the game, didn’t faze Belleville Mennonite coach Morgan Foote Saturday.
A second, now 11 minutes in, wasn’t the thing that took the Thunder out of the game.
But three goals in two minutes after that? A costly breakdown in what was otherwise a Cinderella season for the District 6 champs, who lost their PIAA Class A quarterfinal to Holy Redeemer, 8-0, at Central Columbia High School.
“We beat the odds to even get here,” Foote said. “We beat the odds.”
Already up 2-0, The Royals’ Jesse Ornoski stretched the lead to three, scoring on a penalty corner, one of only two goals scored that way all afternoon (Ornoski had both of them).
That was with 17:03 on the clock, not quite two minutes from the second goal. Nos. 4 and 5 didn’t need that long.
Just 63 ticks after Ornoski’s goal, after the ball dinged the post next to Belleville Mennonite keeper Rachel Sunderland, Madison Zulkowski sent it right back — 4-0. Only 54 second passed before Leah Mullery scored on a wide-angle slap shot that would have been more likely in an ice hockey game.
Now, with a running clock under field hockey’s version of the mercy rule, the Thunder wouldn’t even get a stoppage to regroup if Holy Redeemer scored again. And it did.
“I think we came out somewhat flat, and then had that two- or three-minute period in which we completely fell apart,” Foote said. “If we could have held it together, I think it would have been more of a game. I hoped it would be more of a game.”
It was hard for the Royals not to score. Opportunity was their game, dominating control of the ball for 60 minutes. They used strong, fast strokes to move the ball all over the field, keeping Belleville Mennonite (15-6) on its toes just to know where to play defense.
And it might have been worse — one corner that almost became a goal failed only because of a foot call on Holy Redeemer when the ball was headed to a hole in front. And Belleville Mennonite’s few opportunities all came on corners because the Royals were so good at taking the ball off the Thunder’s sticks as soon as they had possession.
It wasn’t even a numbers advantage — Although Holy Redeemer’s roster numbered close to 30 (including three goalies), the Royals subbed rarely against the team from the smallest field hockey school in the state, one whose starting 11 is the entirety of the team.
“She subbed a bit, but she didn’t keep the second string in long if she did have them in,” Foote said.
McKenna Dolan scored to end the half and start the next, the latter a tough play for Sunderland who thought she had the ball, but it rolled under her and across the line. Ornoski’s second was on a late penalty corner.
“The second half I think we pulled it together a little better,” Foote said. “I would have liked to see the first half go like the second half did.”
And with few graduating in the spring, Foote is already hoping to be back here.
“We have a young team. I anticipate getting a few more freshmen next year,” she said. “Let’s see how it goes.”