KINGSTON — Right after scoring the second goal of the first field hockey all-star game District 2 has seen in awhile, Leah Mullery took some ribbing.
“It was exciting,” Mullery said. “But everybody was like, ‘It was rigged.’ “
Even if it was set up for Mullery to score, nobody was complaining.
Because Mullery not only did what she’s become known for during her spectacular career at Holy Redeemer, by sending a wicked shot into the cage during the second period of the East’s 3-1 victory over the West in the District 2 Senior Field Hockey All-Star Classic, but was also the driving force behind setting the whole thing up.
The field hockey all-star game, which regularly brought an exciting end to the District 2 field hockey season through the 1990s, hadn’t been held for more than 10 years.
“We didn’t have one,” said Holy Redeemer coach Maura McCormick, a 2006 Wyoming Valley West grad who went on to play field hockey at Villanova and who guided the East team during Sunday’s game at Spartan Stadium while participating in her first high school all-star field hockey game. “It was fun.”
All because Mullery and Hazleton Area’s Megan Reed acted on an impulsive thought.
“Last year, I was at a tourament with Meg. My dad actually brought up the idea,” Mullery said. “With all the all-star games with all the other sports, it’s not fair we didn’t have one. There are a lot of great players in our area.”
So Mullery and Reed took to Facebook to get their idea out and try to generate some support for the game.
It was a slow go, to say the least.
“It kind of took a little time,” Mullery said. “Sometimes, it was so hard to reach out to all the coaches. We sent letters, and some of the coaches said they never received a letter. So we were trying to contact girls to go through them to contact their coaches. It was a lot of work.”
Eventually, the whole Wyoming Valley Conference, composed of every field hockey team in District 2, found out about it.
Then they found out Sunday’s game date conflicted with a major training tryout (skills preparation and training workouts) held in Virginia on Sunday.
“At first, we were scared it wasn’t going to come together as much as we wanted,” Mullery said. “We didn’t know how many people were going to show up.”
It turned into a nice turnout, with more than 100 fans in the stands and 67 senior players — most on their way to continue their field hockey careers in college — participated on a 34-player East roster and a 33-girl West squad.
“A lot of the girls are at a training tryout and some of them came back,” McCormick said. “That shows how important this was to them.”
Admission was free, but the game raised $3,000 for Cori’s Place, which services people afflicted with intellectual developmental disabilities, through raffles and donations.
The event gave seniors Nikki Hartzel,Callie Edwards, Lily Drak, Foto Tsioles, Leah Romanowski Madison Woods, Irelyn Sullivan, Mercedes Jasterzenski and Lizzie Owns from Valley West’s Class 2A state silver medalist team a chance to play together one final time on their home field of Spartan Stadium. Meanwhile, ace defenders Emily Sims and Camryn Litjens along with goalie Jay Patterson represented one of the most important parts of Wyoming Seminary’s PIAA Class A runner-up team.
They all suited up for the West, but the East had Crestwood’s Morghan Murphy, Abby Zaleppa, Lauren Shiplett, Arden Morgans and Katie Karpinski from a team that went to the Class 2A state semifinals in 2016. The East also featured Mullery, Kayla Kruk, Mackenzie Savner, Kat Finnegan, Jesse Ornoski and Madison Zulkowski from a Holy Redeemer team that went through two consecutive, unbeaten WVC Division 2 championship seasons and went to the school’s first-ever District 2 Class A title game and to the PIAA semifinals last season.
“It was exciting, but also sad,” said Mullery, who will play field hockey for Division 1 Lehigh next season. “I’ll never get to play with them again. I’ll play against some of them, maybe, in college.”
While Mullery was selected as the East’s MVP and Honesdale goalie Brianna Potter was named the MVP of the West team by voting of the game’s officials, other players also enjoyed big days.
Schuyler Smith of Abington Heights scored twice, hitting the first and last goals for the East team. Pittston Area’s Bailey Jordan assisted on her first goal, Finnegan registered the assist on Smith’s second and in between, Crestwood’s Murphy fed Mullery for a goal as the East built a 3-0 lead.
And with 1:18 to play, Woods prevented the shutout by hitting one final goal at Spartan Stadium before she heads to Penn.
“I think it was a perfect day,” Mullery said. “And it wouldn’t have been without the help of everyone.”