RADNOR — Moira Putsch crouched down to the ground near the Academy of Notre Dame bench, tears flowing down her face at the thought of an outright Inter-Ac League title gone from the Irish's grasp.
Assistant coach Jackie Gerzabek went over to the Notre Dame forward, trying to console her after Lexie Curry's overtime goal had given Episcopal Academy a 3-2 win over the Irish Oct. 26 in the teams' first meeting of the season. It marked the second straight loss to the Churchwomen for Putsch and the Irish after a deflating 3-1 loss in the 2012 PAISAA tournament championship game, one which Notre Dame had vowed to use as motivation for the 2013 season.
Fast forward to nearly a month later and Putsch is all smiles and laughs inside a Notre Dame classroom. The Irish senior sniper, who ends her career owning just about every offensive record imaginable, is all too eager to talk about how the team beat EA the second time, 2-1, to cause a tie atop the Inter-Ac, then won it outright when Agnes Irwin tied the Churchwomen, 1-1. As if life weren't good enough then, Notre Dame upended EA, 3-1, to get back its PAISAA championship.
"The records were icing on the cake, but looking at the team perspective, our goal from Day 1 was Inter-Ac and PAISAA tournament,' Putsch said. "All those other things, I'm so glad and grateful that I was able to achieve them, but I definitely wanted to focus the most on just winning. The feeling that I got after we won (in the final) was indescribable. I've never felt like that before. I remember hearing that we won and were champions by ourselves for the Inter-Ac and our group text message was just going crazy.
There's a pretty good reason how that greatest feeling came to be. Putsch became very well-acquainted with opposing teams' nets as a freshman and never stopped scoring goals. The carnage she left in her wake included records that weren't merely broken. They were obliterated, put well out of reach for perhaps any other player to ever come through Delaware County, and Putsch saved her finest offering for her swan song.
Fifty-four goals, nine better than the mark she and Cardinal O'Hara's Marissa Cicione set together as juniors, were a mind-blowing mark that bested the mark posted by 13 Delco teams. Twenty-nine assists, a mark that showcased her unselfishness and willingness to make sure everyone got involved, proved that Putsch was no one-trick pony. The 83 points shattered the record of 70 that she set as a junior, which was already in a class by itself.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the Academy of Notre Dame's Moira Putsch is the 2013 Daily Times Player of the Year. It is her second consecutive honor and her fourth appearance on the All-Delco team, making her the first player in county history to be selected to the first team in all four seasons. She is joined on the team by her teammate Kirsten Mansfield, a defender. The rest of the All-Delco team includes Cicione and her O'Hara teammate Grace Boston, Episcopal Academy's trio of Margaux Paolino, Christy Palazzese and Gianna Pileggi, Agnes Irwin's sister duo of Sophia and Julianna Tornetta, Archbishop Carroll's Becca Zamojcin, Strath Haven's Alex Bonser and Garnet Valley's Jessika Daniels.
It is the third All-Delco nod for Boston, the second for Cicione and Pileggi and the first for the other eight players. All four classes are represented on the team with Julianna Tornetta a freshman, Paolino a sophomore, Palazzese, Mansfield, Sophia Tornetta and Daniels juniors and the rest seniors. The All-Delco team is selected in consultation with the Delaware County field hockey coaches.♦♦♦
Oh, right, those records. To the best of the Daily Times' knowledge, Putsch owns county records for single-season and career (140) goals, single-season and career (79) assists, single season and career (219) points, single-season (10) and career (22) hat tricks, single-season (15) and career (38) multi-goal games and the least number of career games (seven) where she did not record a point. Her consistency was on display in her final two seasons, never playing a game in which she didn't tally at least one point.
Yet despite all of that, Putsch blushes when the individual records are brought up, but is more than willing to discuss the three Inter-Ac titles and the two PAISAA championships that the Irish won in her tenure there. In her four years, Notre Dame rolled to a record of 81-9-1 under coach Adele Williams' guidance, including a 22-1 mark this season.
"At my grade school, St. Mary Magdalen, I think we only lost two games,' said Putsch, who will reunite with former teammate and fellow two-time Daily Times Player of the Year Katie Gerzabek at Maryland. "We were one of the best teams in our area, so I was kind of used to being successful, but I didn't think that necessarily happened in high school because it's a lot higher level. So the fact that I got to continue (winning) was really fortunate and it was just so fun.
"I think I'll remember winning all the things that we won,' added Putsch, who scored twice in both the second regular-season EA game and the PAISAA final and was responsible for five of the 15 goals that the Churchwomen allowed this year, "but I think the No. 1 thing I'll remember is the best friends and sisters that I've kind of made throughout the entire process. Notre Dame field hockey isn't just about remembering the girls that were on the team this year. I'll remember the team last year and my freshman and sophomore years. It's kind of just like one big family. The No. 1 thing I'll remember from this is how close (we are) and how much fun we had.'
Well, OK, but there has to be one record that the future Terrapin is proud of, right?
"I guess the all-around points was the greatest for me because I don't want to just be known as a scorer,' Putsch said. "I like giving assists because I enjoy setting up other people and I enjoy starting the play, so I think that gave me a lot of joy because I helped other people get goals.'
There's a feeling of genuineness and sincerity when Putsch pushes her accomplishments to the backburner and that it's not some cliche designed to mask a massive ego. It's apparent to players who have played with and gone up against her, nearly all of whom will swear by the "great player, nicer person' line, and that's more what Putsch concerns herself with.
"I think that's really important to me. My parents taught me my whole life because I was getting a little attention in grade school for sports as well, so they definitely taught me the ways that people (look at you). ... Knowing that people think that of me is the greatest accomplishment for me. Despite the fact that I got those goals and records and we won, I think what was most important to me is what people thought of me as a person. That's going to carry me the rest of my life, so I think who I've become as a person is just a blessing to me and I couldn't have done it without the field hockey program.'
And there's going to be one heck of a shadow for anyone who ever wants to wear No. 16 at Notre Dame again. The bar will be set impossibly high, as it has been in all of Delco after Putsch's stunning career, and there's no doubting what type of legacy she left behind.
"Hopefully one that people won't forget,' Putsch said with a broad smile.
It would be very hard to do that.