Beat Avalon in 3-2 thriller
© Photo by Nicholas Mercer/The Compass
The Eastern girls' ball hockey team captured Games gold when it beat Team Avalon in a 3-2 overtime thriller. Members of the team are: floor (l-r) — goaltenders Jenna Blagdon, Maria Stone; front — manager Gail Warren, Kaitlyn Penney, Erin Picco, Nicole Warren, Monica Feltham, Jennifer Guy, Jordyn Cole and Jenelle Blundell; back — Manager Karen Guy Leah Prichett, Kirsten Chatman, Emily Bailey, Jenny Connolly, Angela Mackey, Crystal Mouland, Macailyn Pitt and coach Stacey Moriarty.
It was one for the ages.
The girls’ ball hockey teams from Eastern and Avalon squared off in a titanic battle for gold, which culminated in a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory for the Eastern.
It was a classic match-up between the favoured, and quasi-hometeam Avalon team and the underdog Eastern team.
Avalon got on the board first at 5:34 of the first period when Nicole Blanche took a pass from Megan Normore and buried the ball in the net behind Eastern goaltender Maria Stone.
That was it for the scoring in the first half, as Avalon put the pressure on Eastern, but could not crack Stone in the goal.
The second half started much of the same
Avalon put some pressure on Eastern, but Stone again stood her ground to keep her charges in the game.
With 7:33 remaining in the half, Blanche again beat Stone to put Avalon up 2-0. At that point, it seemed Avalon would hold on for the victory.
But in sports, just as it is in life, anything can happen, and it did.
Eastern got back in the game when Crystal Mouland, of Bonavista jammed a loose ball past Avalon keeper Claire Newhook at 7:03.
Four minutes later, Nicole Warren beat Newhook, tying the game at 2-2.
In overtime, it appeared to be only a matter of time before Avalon scored the winner, but Eastern were not to be denied.
Angela Mackey took advantage of a defensive miscue, sliding a pass from Jenny Connolly past Newhook.
Eastern players swarmed Mackey, while coach, and Harbour Grace native, Stacey Moriarty dashed for his goaltender.
“She’s been with me for three years, and to finally get her a championship,” he said with emotion showing in his voice.
In getting to the championship, Eastern had to overcome some difficulties.
“I hadn’t met most of the players until Wednesday,” said Moriarty.
Despite that, the team went undefeated through the tournament, putting up four wins, no losses and one tie — to Avalon in the round robin.
It was a homecoming of sorts for Moriarty.
“To come home and take one away from the semi-hometeam was special,” he said.
Mackey said after giving up a two-goal advantage, the morale on the bench was at a lowpoint.
“It kind of felt like everyone had given up, but then a couple of players brought the motivation up and everyone started to pick up their game,” she said.
Team Avalon head coach Jeff Garland said the team was disappointed to not get the gold.
“Before we went out there I said, ‘If you wake up tomorrow and in your mind you know that there was nothing you could’ve done different then it doesn’t matter what the outcome of the game was,’” he said. “I still thought we were the better team.”