Ryan set for 2016 rematch behind receivers
Hayden Adams | Friday, November 16, 2018
This year has been a culmination of three seasons of hard work for the Ryan Hall Wildcats. Now, the Wildcats have reached the final game of the year, played in Notre Dame Stadium on Sunday against the Welsh Family Hall Whirlwinds. This is not the first time that these two teams have been in this exact position.
“I’d say probably three-quarters of the team has played in the stadium before,” said Ryan senior captain Jenny Moore. “We went when we were sophomores against Welsh Fam.”
“We lost two seniors last year, and so the seniors this year have been eager to win,” senior co-captain Annie McCarter said (Editor’s note: McCarter is a Viewpoint Copy Editor for the Observer).
Moore said the underclassmen on that roster have wanted to get back there since that game two years ago.
“We had a lot of freshmen on that team. Now you just got a group of seniors and juniors who are hungry for a win,” she said.
They’re in this position again thanks in large part to McCarter, who Moore said can catch anything, and fellow senior co-captain Isabelle Dirksen. Senior coach Mike Cahill and the co-captains said that McCarter could be the team’s offensive MVP while Dirksen is arguably the defensive MVP of the team.
However, the captains and Cahill also pointed to the production from junior Fiona McCarter, McCarter’s cousin and fellow wide receiver, and junior Meaghan Flynn.
Moore said Flynn has served as a rock on defense.
“[Annie and Fiona] both work really well together,” says Dirksen. “[It’s] a good dynamic going on.”
The most impressive contributor though is sophomore quarterback Catherine Mulshine. The sophomore stepped under center in the first game of the season when Moore, the quarterback for three years, went down with an ACL tear in the first game of the year.
“I’m really proud of our quarterback who’s stepped in Jenny’s shoes,” Cahill said. “Jenny was a fantastic quarterback for three years, but [Catherine] stepped up and played big.”
Mulshine has led the Wildcats to the best offense in the league, averaging a league-leading 22.5 points per game.
The offense has not been the only potent force for the team though, as the defense has played a major role as well. Ryan Hall also leads the league in points allowed per game at 6.25. Moore believes the combined efforts of offense and defense have been this team’s greatest strength.
Despite the attention some of the standouts are getting, the individual success is a product of the unsung players, Moore said.
“Everyone works so well together,” she said. “ … [Mulshine] has the time to throw the ball because our offensive line holds it down. It’s really just a whole team effort. Everyone works well together [and] understands how everyone plays and what their strengths and weaknesses are. We’re able to pick each other up and I think that’s what really makes our stars be able to stand out, is everyone [else].”
Cahill has played a big role in the team’s success as well — he’s been with the team for three years, which has led to better communication of the team as he has spent more time with the players. He has not only done well running the team, however. He has a passion and commitment to the team. He had the chance to go to men’s varsity game against Syracuse this weekend in New York City, but cancelled his trip in order to “stay focused for our game,” Dirksen said.
“He knows the girls really well and he knows the playbook,” McCarter added. “He’s able to play to each player’s strength and add routes in when necessary.”
Cahill said he is proud of the entire roster and what they’ve done to get to this position.
“Right now, our defense has played well. I’m proud of the whole team,” he said. “We’ve battled, we’ve come back [in] big games. In the first round [of the tournament] we came back against [Breen-Phillips]. We were down 12-0 in the fourth quarter. That was probably a pretty proud moment for me.”
The Wildcats have a tough test in Welsh Famil, which hasn’t allowed any points as of yet in the tournament. But if you ask the captains, they’re not scared.
“We haven’t lost a game yet, regular season or playoffs,” McCarter said “We’re pretty strong.”
That strength will be on display Sunday in Notre Dame Stadium at 2:45 p.m.