Plymouth North takes Patriot League Cup

PLYMOUTH — While head coach Janet Veracka acknowledged a state championship would have been nice, Plymouth North went as far as a team could go and came out the winner and champion in the end.

The Eagles (12-1-1) toppled Pembroke in the finals of the inaugural Patriot League Cup Field Hockey Championships in a 4-0 shutout at Plymouth North High School on Friday.

Junior Emily Jenkins scored the hat trick while sophomore and fellow Patriot League All-Star Maeve Campbell notched two assists for the three-time Patriot League Keenan Division Champions.

Plymouth North survived an early season scare against the Titans in a 3-2 overtime win, but this one did not have the theatrics as Jenkins was helped by the defense of Meg Hanna and senior Kyleigh Green.

“This is very exciting as we’ve never got to experience this before and we were all very excited to be here,” said Green, who gets to graduate as a champion. “(Emily) worked very hard to get here and communicating (on defense) is a big thing and we worked on that a lot. Meg would step up — I would fall back, and we like to keep it away from Maeve as much as we can.”

Green was referring to her own goalie — senior Maeve Tierney — who has been the Eagles stopgap for all three Patriot League championship seasons.

Veracka has the defense play a game within the game of “keep away” with their own goalie to see if the defense can keep pace out front. Tierney was tested a little early on but cruised to the shutout with four saves and benefited from the stingy defensive play out front.

“Definitely excited to go all the way to the end and this was the first time I had to plan a practice knowing even if we win, it’s our last practice. It was a unique feeling,” said Veracka. “The first quarter was a little bit more defensive, a little back and forth. But the second quarter when we got those three goals, that really just slowed them down, trying to maintain the fight, and striving for the shutout.”

The defensive battle ended on Jenkins’ first tally with 2:04 left in the first quarter as the junior slapped the ball softball-style out of the air off the stick of Campbell for the game’s first goal.

The goal sparked a three-goal second quarter out of the gates as Jenkins scored two more times in the first six minutes of the second stanza. Jenkins’ fourth hat trick of the season was all the Eagles needed but Bella Harvey put some icing on the victory with the fourth and final goal with 1:14 left in the first half.

“It was so awesome and there is no better feeling than right now,” said Jenkins, who comes back with Campbell next season despite the Eagles graduating 10 seniors in 2020. “(Campbell) and I have worked together now for two years and I kind of know where she is going to be and she knows where I am going to be even if we are not looking at each other. We have very good chemistry and nothing gets in between.”

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