The younger Bruner, now a junior forward for the Cadets, and senior Leah Morrison — whose older sister, Clara, also suffered that loss to Good Counsel four years ago — reflected on that memory before the Cadets and Falcons squared off again Sunday night with this year’s title at stake. On their arms, they wrote “Win 4” followed by the initials of each other’s sisters and one of their best friends.
In the third quarter Sunday night at Catholic, with St. John’s already leading by two, the duo brought the Cadets even closer to doing what their sisters couldn’t. Morrison sent in a pass from long range, and Bruner redirected the ball for the Cadets’ third goal. It all but sealed the 3-0 victory — and the second straight WCAC title — for St. John’s.
“[The 2018 loss] really fueled me to have that chance to play under the lights,” Bruner said. “When that ball came to me, I was like, ‘I have to take my chance now.’ ”
“It’s a lot of redemption and full circle,” said Morrison, who like Clara will play field hockey at Syracuse. “I just knew that she would get it at the right time. It worked when it needed to.”
That moment yielded the loudest roar from Cadets supporters and brought goose bumps to Coach Corey Kelly, who has been at the helm since 2014. Her squad followed an unbeaten campaign with a dominant 14-1 season and a dispatching of the seven-time WCAC champions.
“It’s not easy to score on a team like Good Counsel, but they will dig deep until that is done,” Kelly said.
On Sunday, it took the Cadets all of five minutes to find the back of the Falcons’ cage. From the edge of the circle, junior midfielder Colleen Maloney fired a shot past goalkeeper Zoe Tate.
The Cadets stayed aggressive against the Falcons (14-6-1) in the first half, drawing penalty corners as their defense continually negated Good Counsel’s attack. They broke through again nearly six minutes into the second quarter, when sophomore midfielder Alexandra Snyder hammered home a goal on a penalty corner.
Bruner’s relationship with Morrison goes beyond their families’ St. John’s field hockey legacies. Like many of her teammates, Bruner’s primary sport is lacrosse — she didn’t play field hockey until last year. Morrison has played an instrumental role in her development.
“My main sport is field hockey, and watching these girls — I don’t think I could pick it up so easily,” said Morrison, whose squad beat Bishop Ireton for last year’s WCAC title. “They improve so much every day.”
After the final horn, Kelly spent a moment with Good Counsel Coach Kelly Massino, who has reached the WCAC title game in six of her seven years. Captains Mary Dow and Erin Fagan were the only seniors in her starting lineup.
“I [told Kelly], ‘You can have this one — I got you next year and the year after,’ ” Massino said.