In the final 10 minutes of the Haddon Township High School field hockey team’s quarterfinal playoff game against Maple Shade, the Hawks fought for every loose ball, moved the ball fluently and produced two goals. The high quality of play demonstrated why the Hawks were a No. 4 seed and just how dangerous they could be.
However, 10 good minutes wasn't enough to overcome a sloppy first half that saw No. 5 Maple Shade produce all of its offense in a 3-2 victory in the NJSIAA Central jersey group 1 quarterfinals.
“Unfortunately, that has kind of been our M.O. this season and sometimes it has worked for us and sometimes it hasn’t,” Haddon Township coach Genevieve Hunter said of the late charge. “We keep stressing to them that it has to be 60 minutes, not seven minutes where you are giving it your all. I would say two girls were going all out the whole game and finally with those seven minutes left the other nine stepped up.”
Maple Shade got goals in the ninth and 10th minutes to jump out to the early lead and added a third goal with 7:28 in the half.
“We weren’t playing as a team,” Hunter said. “There were two or three girls playing together, but as a whole we were playing like 11 individuals. We have been working on that, but sometimes they click and sometimes they don’t. Unfortunately, today it didn’t happen in the beginning.”
The Hawks looked like a different team in the second half, getting consistent pressure around the Maple Shade cage. Sarah Gawrysiak finally put Haddon Township on the board with a goal with 7:21 remaining in regulation.
“I was hopeful (we could comeback) because it kind of kick-started the team a little bit,” Gawrysiak said. “It made everyone believe we could do it because we actually got a goal and weren’t getting shutout.”
The goal certainly energized the Hawks as they marched right back down the field, earning a quick corner. Gawrysiak received the corner and fired a shot that was tipped by the stick of Julie Bridgeford and made its way into the back of the cage with 7:02 left.
The goal sent the Hawks into a frenzy as a comeback that seem seemed like an impossible task just seconds earlier was now within reach. Haddon Township kept up the pressure over the final six minutes, but the Maple Shade defense tightened just enough for the Wildcats to escape with the victory.
“I’m sad that we didn’t pick it up and play like that the whole game, because I definitely think we could have won. Gawrysiak said. “I wish we had played like that sooner.”
The loss brought to close not just a season, but then end of an era. The team was comprised of 13 seniors, including Kim Flacco, who leaves as the program’s all-time leading goal scorer.
“It’s been an honor to coach them,” Hunter said. “They have been my girls since I first took over varsity. Flacco has been my strong-stay all four years. They will definitely be missed. It’s going to be a huge hole to fill.”
Gawrysiak is one of the few juniors on the roster. She will be back as a team leader next year, but knows replacing all of the talent that will be graduating will be a daunting task.
“I love them all,” said Gawrysiak. “They basically were our team. They are all good leaders and they are the reason we made it this far.”