Defender Morgan Qualls, goalie Alyssa Klebasko and forward Ella Kokinis (left to right) are three of the key cogs in No. 3 Garrison Forest’s 5-0 start. After a 4-1 win over No. 10 Bryn Mawr, Wednesday, the Grizzlies will head to the MAX Field Hockey National High School Invitational this weekend to play against some of the other top teams in the country.

No. 3 Garrison Forest’s 4-1 field hockey win over No 10 Bryn Mawr Wednesday proved the perfect tune-up for the Grizzlies’ trip to this weekend’s MAX Field Hockey National High School invitational, which draws many of the top teams in the country.

The visiting Grizzlies broke out of a 1-1 second-quarter tie for their second Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference win of the season, boosting their overall record to 5-0.

“I think it’s definitely a confidence booster,” midfielder-defender Morgan Qualls said of the win. “I think that being undefeated now helps us realize that we can go in there and we can compete with these teams. We don’t know how they play, so all we can do is play how we play and hope for the best.”

Last year, the Grizzlies went 0-3 at the tournament, held at The Proving Grounds near Philadelphia. Ranked No. 8 in MAX Field Hockey’s Mid-Atlantic Region, the Grizzlies first game on Friday comes against perhaps their toughest competition, national No. 21 Sacred Heart from Greenwich, Conn.

Saturday they will face Pennsylvania Region No. 14 Academy of Notre Dame de Namur and then Northeast Region No. 7 Staples, Conn.

“This year we plan to go and win,” said goalie Alyssa Klebasko. “Last year was a little bit of a disappointment, because we lost every game, so we’re hungry to go and get a win and prove that we are one of the top high school teams in the nation.”

Playing in the IAAM A Conference, the Grizzlies have some tough competition here at home too as the Mawrtians gave them a battle despite the lopsided score.

The Mawrtians were playing in just their third game of the season. They lost their opener last week to No. 9 Notre Dame Prep, 3-2, giving up three goals before rallying. They followed that with a 2-0 win over No. 11 South River Friday and coach Jeannette Budzik said their effort against Garrison was their best yet even though they had a couple starters out with injuries.

“We are close,” Budzik said. “I said to the kids, ‘The score was a loss. The way we played was not a loss,’ because we’re going to get around that corner a little bit later. I really believe that and I think they believe that as well. We have to believe that. We’re just going to keep working and getting stronger.”

The Mawrtians played the Grizzlies about even through the first 20 minutes and rallied to tie at 1-1 early in the second quarter. Bryn Mawr goalie Alex de Jesus kept the Grizzlies from running up the score with 13 saves.

In the opening minutes, the Mawrtians took four shots, but Klebasko stopped two, one carried wide and a defender blocked another.

At the other end, de Jesus made a couple of saves and back Jane Eiswert cleared another ball away from the goal line to keep the game scoreless after a quarter.

Ella Kokinis put the Grizzlies on the board first after her initial shot was cleared back into the circle where she stopped it and drove it between de Jesus and a defender into the net.

That lead lasted 45 seconds.

Klebasko stopped a shot from Maggie Lynch, but when the goalie stepped up to cut off Zoe Herkalo’s angle off the rebound, Herkalo slipped the ball just out of Klebasko’s reach with 12:01 to go in the second quarter.

The tie lasted about two minutes.

Lauren Widdowson put the Grizzlies in the lead for good with a reverse-stick blast from the left side into the right corner of the cage with 10:08 left in the quarter.

Kokinis and Bell Mazzo scored second-half goals and Widdowson had an assist for the Grizzlies, but Klebasko, who had five saves, along with defenders Qualls, Julia McAllister and Maddy Snyder held off the Mawrtians after that.

Coach Mimi Smith, in her first season at Garrison Forest, said she feels confident about what her players can do and she’s looking forward to seeing what they can accomplish this weekend.

“I’m just looking for them to be consistent,” Smith said. “I’m looking to work on the things that we work on in practice and to be able to execute them in the games. Everything that we work on in practice always shows up in the game and I’m just looking for them to recognize that and then to be able to work off that. [The invitational is] a great opportunity.”


GF 0 2 1 1 — 4

BM 0 1 0 0 — 1

Goals: GF—Ella Kokinis 2, Lauren Widdowson, Bell Mazza; BM—Zoe Herkalo.

Assists: GF—Lauren Widdowson; BM—Maggie Lynch.

Saves: GF—Alyssa Klebasko 5; BM—Alex de Jesus 13.