Tiger field hockey works overtime again to earn a tie

MIDDLEBURY — It was another game, another overtime for the improved Middlebury Union High School field hockey team on Tuesday, when the Tigers and visiting Burlington dueled to a 1-1 tie.
The 0-2-2 Tigers have played extra sessions three times in four outings, and their only losses have come by one goal.
In Tuesday’s contest vs. the 1-1-1 Seahorses, the Tigers allowed only two shots on goalie Baily Ryan in a strong defensive effort by backs Megann Watkins, Alli White, Jess Brisson and Alex Whipple.
First-year coach Megan Sears noted that after surrendering four goals and 16 penalty corners in a Friday loss to Mount Abraham, one sign of the quality of Tuesday’s defensive effort was not allowing any corners in regulation.
“Defensively, we didn’t have any corners until overtime, which was a huge change from the last game,” Sears said. “So that felt really good.”
After the veteran Eagle midfield controlled much of Friday’s game, the Tigers also took a step forward there on Tuesday. Kiera Kirkaldy and Kate Knowles in the center and right side, respectively, and Harley Downey-Teachout on the left dictated much of the play and contributed defensively. And Tajah Marsden came in off the bench in the second half at midfield to give MUHS a big lift and set up Lauren Bartlett’s game-tying goal.
“We had some really great connections in the midfield, which looked really pretty … And we had some great balls in (to the circle)” Sears said.
Offensively, Sears would have liked to have seen the Tigers’ overall edge in territory translate into more chances, although they forced BHS goalie Monika Ingalls to make three saves and a defender also stopped a shot.
“It’s just, again, keeping those sticks down in the circle to make sure we can finish,” she said.
The Tigers’ best chance in the first half came in the eighth minute, when Bartlett won the ball in a scramble about six yards off the left post and fired a shot that beat Ingalls. But alert defender Lauren Jarvis sticked aside the drive on the goal line.
BHS took the lead with 7:28 to go, when the Tigers lost track of Monica Weltman in the center of the circle. Weltman’s shot to the lower right corner gave Ryan no chance.
MUHS had a couple chances, but in the late going couldn’t find the ball in a scramble after Kirkaldy drove the ball in, and Sara Kelley also shot wide on a strong cross from Makayla Foster.
The Tigers earned more territory after the break. Mikayla Humiston had a chance, but couldn’t reverse-stick the ball home off the left post, and BHS defender Lisa Cicchetti broke up a strong Knowles run.
At 13:57, the Tigers equalized after Marsden’s energetic ball-winning paid off. She ran down the right side and crossed to Bartlett near the stroke line in the middle of the circle, and Bartlett accurately picked the lower right corner.
Half-a-minute later Ryan denied a drive by dangerous BHS middie Ilona Maher, and the Tigers went back on the attack. They earned two corners, but their best chance came when Knowles set up Bartlett with five minutes left, only to see Ingalls turn the shot aside.
In overtime, BHS earned three corners, but Watkins, White, Kirkaldy and Humiston all made defensive plays. Humiston had the best chance after Paige Viens sent her into the circle, but could not muster a shot as the defense recovered.
With a game at defending D-I champion South Burlington on tap on Saturday, Sears would have liked to see the Tigers break through with a win, but she said she was happy to see progress.
“I think we really stepped it up from our last game,” Sears said. 

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