Field hockey takes the next step

Ryan Buddie, Sports Editor

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Claire Buckey, Grace Buckey and Mara Hunter line up for a corner.

Claire Buckey, Grace Buckey and Mara Hunter line up for a corner.

“Winning this year’s state championship has been our major goal since before the season started,” said Claire Buckey ‘17.

The regular season is long gone, and the Patriots earned a 3-seed in their district of the bracket.  They felt confident that they could handle most of the competition, including strong teams like Olentangy, Bexley and New Albany.  Most notably, the Bishop Watterson Eagles stood in the way of the senior class in their pursuit to make the state semi-finals for the first time. Watterson was the only local competition that the girls had never defeated, though they had tied them on multiple occasions, including earlier this year.

On Sept. 15 they hosted Watterson on Leukemia Night, in honor of Mara Hunter overcame cancer just one year ago and is now back on the field playing in her senior season.  The game ended in a 1-1 tie after Watterson scored a late goal to knot the game, sending it into overtime periods.  In overtime, Watterson nearly got the win with a straightaway shot that got by goalkeeper Katie Flanagan, but the shooter was ruled outside of the zone, and the game ended as a draw.

This is the first trip to the state semi-finals for the senior class, which includes Claire Buckey, Savannah Minardi, Ellie Corder, Abby Cohen, Izzy Wagner, Katie Pione, Maria Englehart, Cassidy Kershner and Katie Flanagan.  They had been bounced in the final of their region for the past three seasons, but their strong determination finally got them over the hurdle.

Senior night took place on Oct. 12, where the emotionally driven senior class was beaten by visiting Kentucky Country Day by a score of 1-0.  With their seeding in the bracket already secured, the loss didn’t hurt more than the Patriots’ pride.

On Saturday Oct. 15, the Patriots suffered another loss to end their regular season.  A 2-1 defeat to Thomas Worthington stung the Patriots’ confidence at a crucial time period just before the postseason.  Worthington is the defending state champion, but were only a 4-seed this year.

Mara Hunter continues to inspire the community as she continues to play in her senior year, earning a scholarship at Ohio State while still fighting.  #MarasMission became #thecomeback when Hunter officially returned to action in Liberty’s season opener versus Ursuline Academy.

The Patriots started off the tournament on a good note with a 9-0 handling of Coffman.  In the following game, they demolished 6-seeded Bexley 10-1. Then, on Oct. 29, Liberty beat Watterson 2-1 in a competitive match that involved several missed strokes and a late go-ahead goal by senior Katie Pione.  

“I do a lot of visualization and try to picture myself in certain situations and go over in my head what I would do and how I would react to success and failure,”  said senior goalkeeper Katie Flanagan.

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