Assumption head coach Kenyon Meyer told his team after the game that it wasn’t any ordinary win.
“It’s a program win in that it takes a lot of character from every single person in the program,” he explained. “To lose one of your best players for the year (Maddie Spencer) as well as two other starters (Taylor Hubbs and Emma Schaefer) … and step up the way they did is just huge for the program and it shows what the program is about.”
Neither team was particularly friendly in the rivalry bout, despite players having friends on both sides of the ball. The game was physical, and it took almost 23 minutes for either team to get a leg up on the scoreboard. Pickren hit a 35-yard shot over goalie Sarah Stodghill to put the home team up 1-0 with 17:19 left in the first half.
“It was a rare opportunity,” said Pickren. “Usually I don’t get too many chances to score. It was an amazing feeling, especially this being my senior year.”
On the other end of the field, Coke, back from an ankle injury, had seven saves and survived three Sacred Heart shots that hit the post. Pickren’s goal was huge for her as much as anyone else.
“I was nervous,” said Coke, also a senior. “Even before the game I was shaking. We had to talk a lot on defense. When (Mel) scored it calmed us down but we were like ‘Let’s keep it up because they can score right back.’ This win is amazing. This is the biggest game for us.”
The game stayed 1-0 until the sixth minute of the second half, when Glover scored off a Hannah Hennessey assist to give the Rockets a 2-0 cushion.
“Hannah played a perfect ball,” said Glover, who as a junior got her first Cleat Cup victory. “Knowing that my goal was the difference maker feels amazing. It really means a lot to me.”
The Valkyries were not about to go down without a fight. With 22:40 left, Amber Sisler beat Coke to cut the lead in half. From that point on, the Rockets had to play team defense and get a little lucky, as Cassie Amshoff’s attempt hit the post but bounced out of harm’s way for Assumption.
“This means everything for our seniors,” said Meyer. “It was an ugly, blood, sweat, and tears victory. These rivalry games, you don’t win them by putting together pretty passing patterns. You win them by putting everything you have on the field. We just played with a lot of heart. But let me tell you, we love the ugly victories just as much as the pretty ones.”
Assumption 2 (Melissa Pickren, Abby Glover), Sacred Heart 1 (Amber Sisler).