Marianne Paparone practically breathes and lives playoff field hockey every year. The 20-plus-year Plymouth Whitemarsh (Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania) head coach has led the Lady Colonials to the playoffs-districts and a few state appearances-in all but one season at the helm (the 2012 didn’t qualify but Paparone was retired that season). In 2009, Paparone’s Lady Colonials failed to make districts, even with a perfect game on defense (no shots or corners allowed) in a 5-0 home victory against Cheltenham on Sept. 30.
When the 2015 Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association District 1 Class AAA playoff bracket had been released on Oct. 22, PW earned the 10th seed. The Suburban One American Conference titlist is scheduled to host 23rd-seeded Lower Merion in the first round on Oct. 26 at PW’s Victory Fields. Unionville, Downingtown East, Central Bucks West, and Neshaminy have received opening-round byes as the top four teams. Six teams will advance to the state tournament.
PW captured its third consecutive conference crown by going 13-1 in SO American action (15-3 overall). The Lady Colonials posted at least 69 goals and seven shutouts while surrendering approximately 23 boom-shaka-lakas. Quakertown, Wissahickon, and Haverford High handed the Lady Colonials their defeats.
Lower Merion, meanwhile, earned sixth place in the Central League at 6-4 (11-6 overall). If the Aces qualified for districts in previous seasons, it hasn’t been since before the Philadelphia Phillies won the 2008 World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Aces and Lady Colonials faced each other in a nonleague contest on Oct. 10 in Ardmore. PW defeated the host Aces, 3-2, in a game that was knotted at one goal apiece during halftime. Paige Totten (59 seconds into the contest), Jess Dixon, and Julia Fiddler scored for the Lady Colonials while Danielle Geis and Anne O’Connor tallied goals for Lower Merion.
Whoever wins this meeting will face either 26th-seeded North Penn or seventh-seeded Methacton in the second round on Oct. 28. PW last played in the second round in 2013 as the third seed (17-1 during the regular season) with a first-round bye, but lost to 14th-seeded Hatboro-Horsham, 2-0, at Victory Fields.
Furthermore, PW hasn’t triumphed in a district playoff game since Oct. 25, 2010, a 4-1 win as the 17th seed at 16th-seeded Unionville (Molly Getzfried opened the scoring for the Lady Colonials and Megan McCollough deposited a pair of goals). Including a 4-0 loss to top-seeded Central Bucks South in the next round of that season’s district tournament, the Lady Colonials have won 65, dropped 27, and tied once (54-13-1 in conference play).