By Nelson Coffin
Unlikely is not too strong of a word to describe Mercy’s postseason, considering how the Magic fared in B Conference play this season.
With an influx of youth and indecision about which parts fit best, Mercy stumbled through the league with a paltry 3-9 record and overall 9-10 mark.
To say that the Magic made amends is an understatement, considering the way they played in the postseason before handling a very good Annapolis Area Christian School squad, 9-3, in the B Conference final on Saturday afternoon at Gerstell Academy in Finksburg.
Coach Brian Casserly’s club used a 10-save performance by sophomore goalie Caleigh Forti and a big day on the offensive end by junior attacker Bailey Krahl and her sophomore counterpart Mickey Burnett, who combined for seven goals and two assists in the Magic’s title run.
Seniors Marissa Lesko and Erin Young, sophomores Meghan Roesner and Dasia McQueen and freshman Hailey Jordan were mainstays on defense for Mercy playing in front of the agile and confident Forti.
Forti said that talking to her father, former Boys’ Latin and Washington College netminder Tony Forti, calmed her nerves before the game.
She added that her team “worked like dogs” while preparing for the playoffs.
“We gained a lot of momentum and growth (during the season),” Caleigh Forti said. “And it showed in the end.”
Casserly said that while Forti’s play was a key to the victory, he also singled out Lesko for her work “pinching” AACS’s hard-driving dodgers, especially sophomore Lydia Wood.
Good work on the draw by promising freshman Savannah Safchuck added to the Magic’s banner day.
Krahl (4 goals, 2 assists) and Burnett (3 goals) scored all four goals to lift the Magic to a 4-0 halftime advantage and then Burnett opened the second half with Mercy’s fifth goal before Wood finally broke through for AACS (12-3) to make it, 5-1.
After Mercy sophomore attacker Madison Laine and AACS junior midfielder Livy Lenhart traded goals for a 6-2 difference, Krahl and Wood did the same to maintain a four-goal margin that widened to 9-3 after goals by freshman attacker Courtney Lesko and Krahl closed the scoring.
“Their goalie is really good, and we were shooting right at her stick,” AACS Deanna Thorpe said. “To be down by four goals was not uncommon for us. We just weren’t getting draws. We played better in the second half, but it was too little, too late.”
Although Mercy was close in most of its games this spring, losing seven one-goal battles, seemed to steel them for postseason play.
A sturdy win over Catholic High in the quarterfinal round and before a taut 13-12 verdict over Park in a semifinal led them to the brink of claiming another crown.
“The kids were awesome,” Casserly said. “But we had lots of youth and that’s why things went the way they did. We had to find the right position for the right kids. We finally figured it out.”