Eagle field hockey dominates Woodstock in quarterfinal
BRISTOL — Senior forward Sarah Heffernan scored 1:43 into overtime on Friday to give the No. 3 Mount Abraham Union High School field hockey team a 1-0 victory over visiting No. 6 Woodstock in a Division II quarterfinal.
That win propelled the 10-4-1 Eagles into a Wednesday semifinal showdown with No. 2 U-32 (14-1) at Middlebury College. The final will be played at the University of Vermont on Saturday at a time to be announced.
No. 1 Windsor (14-0-1) and No. 4 Harwood (10-4-1) are set to meet on Tuesday on the Middlebury College turf field in the other semi, although poor weather could postpone that game to Thursday.
Heffernan’s golden goal came on an assist from junior defender Anna Thompson in a game that saw the Eagles dominate from the opening whistle. Mount Abe forced 19 penalty corners to the Wasps’ two, and outshot Woodstock, 12-3.
But the Wasps effectively clogged the circle in front of goalie Emma Astbury, preventing a lot of quality shots. Woodstock senior middie Sam Harrington effectively came back to help the defense and often cleared the ball out of harm’s way.
At the other end, a Mount Abe defense led by Thompson and senior Arianna Perlee in the middle was able to repulse the infrequent Wasp attacks, although senior Eagle goalie Lizzie Huizenga made one spectacular sprawling save at point-blank range in the second half.
The overtime session meant a seven-on-seven matchup that gave the Eagles’ crisp ball-control offense more room in which to maneuver around the Wasp defense. And it didn’t take long for the high-scoring Heffernan to pot the winning goal from close range.
It was the first sudden-victory goal of her career, and she said afterward it seemed a little surreal as her teammates swarmed her in celebration.
“I don’t really remember. There was the ball, the goalie and then the ball was in the net,” Heffernan said.
The goal ended 60 minutes of offensive frustration for the Eagles.
“It was definitely discouraging, because we had so many close calls,” Heffernan said. “But I am really happy we won.”
Eagles Coach Mary Stetson was both relieved and pleased after the victory.
“We hadn’t played in over a week, and that was hard, but I thought we possessed the ball well and did a lot of nice things,” Stetson said. “I thought we dominated the game. We didn’t make the most of our penalty corners obviously, which was disappointing, but we live to play another day.”
Mount Abe, which played a D-II opponent for the first time this fall on Friday, will face a U-32 team that beat Milton, 4-0, in its quarterfinal game. While U-32 has played a softer regular season schedule — almost all D-II and D-III foes and only one D-I game — Stetson expects a battle.
“If you only lose one game, you are a good team,” she said.
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