By Phil Anastasia
It's a dynamic as old as time: Dad says one thing, daughter does another.
The twist on Wednesday was that Emily DeMarco's defiance of her father's directive resulted in one of the most rewarding moments in both of their lives.
"I scream at her all the time not to do it," St. Joseph field hockey coach John DeMarco said of the shot that his daughter Emily used to lift the host Wildcats to a 2-1 victory over Bishop Eustace in the Non-Public South title game.
Emily DeMarco manuevered past two defenders and backhanded the ball into the cage to snap a 1-1 tie with just one minute, 33 seconds to play on a cold, sunny afternoon.
"I pulled once and then there was another girl there and I pulled again," Emily DeMarco said. "It's a reverse chip. It's a deceiving shot."
The victory sent sent St. Joseph (20-0-1) into the Non-Public state finals Saturday night at 6 p.m. at Toms River East.
The victory also completed a remarkable two-game run for the Wildcats, who stunned Camden Catholic and Bishop Eustace to win the first Non-Public South title in the history of the sport in this state. In previous years, Non-Public teams were included with public school teams for tournament purposes.
Although St. Joseph was the No. 1 seed, Camden Catholic and Bishop Eustace were generally regarded as the favorites in each game because of the strength of their schedules as well as the caliber of some of their top players.
St. Joseph won both games by 2-1 scores despite a sizable disadvantage in corners.
"These were the two biggest wins in St. Joe's history," said John DeMarco, who has been the Wildcats' coach for 18 years. "When we were in Group 1, we never went against teams that were Top 5 in South Jersey. It just goes to show, 'On any given day.'"
Bishop Eustace (13-2) held a firm territorial advantage, generating a 16-3 edge in corners. But the Crusaders, who played many of their games on artificial turf, struggled to convert opportunities on the Wildcats' grass field.
"I'm proud of my girls," Bishop Eustace coach Danielle Senior. "I thought they played well. But you have to give it to St. Joe. They played hard against Camden Catholic and they played hard against us."
St. Joseph jumped in front in the game's first minute as Carlena Sacco scored to give the Wildcats a 1-0 advantage.
Bishop Eustace tied the score early in the second half on a goal by Elizabeth Love off an assist from Lauren Crudele.
The teams appeared headed to overtime when St. Joseph forced its third corner with a less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
DeMarco took the insert, dribbled past two defenders and used the side of her stick to swat the shot into the cage.
"She does it all the time," John DeMarco said. "I tell her it's a lazy play, to get her feet around. But I guess she can do it now."
Moments later, as the final whistled sounded, Emily DeMarco said she looked over at her father.
"We both started crying," Emily DeMarco said. "We knew we had made it. It was something to see a grown man cry."
Bishop Eustace 0 1 -- 1
St. Joseph 1 1 -- 2
Goals: BE-Elizabeth Love; SJ-Carlena Sacco, Emily DeMarco.
Saves: BE-Tara Young, 2; SJ-Mikaila Power, 5.
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