Assistant coach Carm Burmania of the St. Thomas More Knights had divided loyalties during a Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic high school field hockey semifinal Wednesday (Oct. 19).
That’s because her Grade 11 daughter, Mikayla, was a member of the opposing St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves.
Playing on home field, second-place Brebeuf won the contest, 3-0, to qualify for the league championship Friday. The Braves will travel to Bishop Ryan to take on the first-place Celtics, who defeated the fourth-place Cardinal Newman Cardinals, 2-0, in the other semi-final.
“It was interesting,” Burmania said of her sideline experience against Brebeuf. “It’s hard to divide your loyalties. When I’m coaching STM, I cheer on my team and encourage them to work hard. But I also did tell our team to get on Mikayla. She does other sports and has that competitive spirit in her. She carried the ball very well and was determined. She played a great game.”
After a scoreless first half, Paige Micallef, Emma Valentine and Callie Vaudry found the net against beleaguered More goalkeeper Claudetta Pugliese.
“I was hoping it wouldn’t be a 1-0 game,” said Mikayla Burmania, a three-year field hockey veteran who scored four times during the regular season.
Brebeuf coach Terra Alfano was pleased with her team’s performance. “Our girls were passing the ball really well and communicating much more effectively than they have in the past,” she said. “They were also really supportive of one another on the field.”
Mikayla Burmania and captain Nicole Mayer hooked up on eight short corner attempts.
Said Alfano: “I’ll give a shout out to my two inside midfielders, Nicole and Mikayla. They didn’t score today but they created our opportunities.
“They really controlled the play in the middle of the field. That makes it impossible for a great team like STM to be able to advance into our end.”
More and Brebeuf both had 3-2 records during the regular schedule. However, on the basis of its 3-2 win over head coach Gina LeJambe’s More squad on Oct. 7 (penalty flicks) Brebeuf earned second place in the standings and an opening-round playoff bye.
“Today, Brebeuf was the better team,” the More assistant coach said. “It was obvious from the get go that they were organized and completing their plays.”
The Brebeuf victory snapped More’s run of four consecutive HWCAA field hockey titles.
“That’s quite unfortunate,” Carm Burmania said. “A player like Marisa Pileggi, who is in Grade 12, was hoping to leave a legacy of winning five years in a row. She’s our captain and really plays with heart. I feel badly for her. We did our best.”
In recent HWCAA quarter-final playoff action, More blanked the St. Mary Crusaders, 2-0, while Cardinal Newman edged the Bishop Tonnos Titans, 2-1.