By Chris Teale (Photo/Chris Teale)
It took less than five minutes for the Bishop Ireton field hockey team to assert itself in its Monday quarterfinal in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tournament.
Facing Elizabeth Seton, the Cardinals offense sprung to life as Kerrigan McCormick broke into the circle, then found Callan McCormick unmarked to score with a backhanded shot. Each McCormick sister would later score another goal as Ireton cantered to a 3-0 victory at Fannon Field.
Later in the first half, a penalty corner from Ireton caused chaos in the Seton circle, and after a goalmouth scramble, Callan McCormick pounced on the loose ball and forced it home. Another penalty corner would bring the Cardinals’ third as Kerrigan McCormick was on hand to stab the ball home after a long-range effort from defender Lanie Garlock.
And despite the game being low on chances for both sides — Seton did not get its first shot off until there were less than four minutes remaining in the game — the hosts had other opportunities to stretch their lead but were twice denied by the frame of the goal.
“I’m not ever really confident unless we get up a couple of goals, and so even one goal is not enough for me,” said Ireton head coach Erin Simons. “I didn’t really feel confident after one goal. Two was better for me, but three ultimately is where my comfort lies.”
But on Tuesday, the Cardinals’ bid for a WCAC tournament title came to an end with a 5-1 defeat away against St.
John’s in the semifinals.
The appearance in the WCAC tournament caps a successful season for Ireton, which has also challenged for a berth in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association state tournament. The Cardinals held a 7-4 record overall, including a 5-2 clip in WCAC play, before the start of the postseason.
It has been quite a revival for a program that only restarted five years ago, having been discontinued in the 1980s.
“I’m very humbled and proud of my players’ hard work and their tenacity to never say die,” said Simons. “They never really give up. They do look tired some days, but they never give and so I’m humbled by that. I’m grateful for the opportunity to coach a team like this, but there is a part of me as a coach that says I still want more out of them every game.”
Despite the success, Simons and her players said they have been troubled all year by a lack of consistency in the team’s results. Some days the Cardinals are cohesive and capable of defeating anyone, while on others it is the complete opposite, leaving all involved searching for answers.
“It feels like every game we either do really well or we just aren’t there, but overall it’s been a great season,” said Callan McCormick. “I think we get it in our heads that we’re playing a tougher team, and it’s mental.”
“We are an inconsistent team, but we are also in an inconsistent conference, and similar teams have similar issues,” said Simons. “We’ve talked about it for years as coaches, but nothing ever really comes of that. In all honesty, we are really at peak high or peak low, and that’s tough because we’ve lost some games we really should have won on those peak low days.”