Driscoll’s hat trick leads Mt. Abe to emotional win

BRISTOL — The Mount Abraham Union High School field hockey team earned an emotional home win on Friday, defeating Middlebury, 5-1, in the Eagles’ first game since junior teammate Olivia Scott took her own life earlier in the week.
Their Wednesday home game vs. Mount Mansfield was cancelled, and according to Middlebury sources the Mount Abe team and coaches met and decided to go forward with Friday’s game.
A tribute to Scott was read before the game, and when the Eagles scored their first goal, the players each raised one finger from each hand in the air in tribute to Scott, whose uniform number was 11.
The victory improved Mount Abe to 7-3-1 and kept the Eagles in the thick of a battle for the Nos. 2, 3 and 3 seeds in Division II behind undefeated Rice. Otter Valley (8-3) and Harwood (9-3) are also in the mix for those first-round home games.
Middlebury, still hampered by injuries to key players (junior center back Megann Watkins remains out, and center middie Kiera Kirkaldy is working her way back), dropped to 2-6-3. The Tigers are in a battle with Mount Mansfield for the Nos. 8 and 9 seeds in D-I.
The Eagles dominated early on Friday and took the lead in the sixth minute, when Sam Driscoll cut into the circle and smartly fed Hailey Sayles at the left post for the conversion.
Driscoll scored the first of her three goals on a penalty corner at 18:53. Six minutes later Sayles fed Gabby Schlein at the stroke line, and Schlein picked the lower left corner. Driscoll netted her second goal on one of the Eagles’ eight first-half penalty corners, pushing a rebound home at 7:29.
The Tigers earned two penalty corners in the first half, the first nicely forced by Kate Knowles and Lauren Bartlett, but came up empty. Good defense by Eagle middie Madi Wood disrupted the second. Tiger goalie Baily Ryan also was credited with 15 of her 21 saves in the first half.
Driscoll completed her hat trick at 26:31 of the second, taking a pass from Schlein and rapping the ball into the lower left corner. As usual, the Eagle midfield of Wood, Sam Reiss and Sara Cousino helped their team control play, with help from central defender Anna Thompson stepping into the attack.
The Tigers showed plenty of life the rest of the way. Makayla Foster caused trouble for the Eagle defense on the right wing, Mikayla Humiston had a couple chances out front, Paige Viens had a strong rush that Knowles and Bartlett almost finished, Harley Downey-Teachout had good moments at midfield, and Kirkaldy came off the bench to make an impact at midfield, helping MUHS gain territory and control the ball.
MUHS broke through at 7:20. Foster rushed from midfield and beat a defender before sending a diagonal ball to Viens, who from near the stroke line grounded a shot just inside the left post.
In all, Mount Abe outshot MUHS, 28-6, and earned a 12-7 edge in corners. Eagle goalies Danielle Morse (two saves) and Jessica Martell (one stop) shared time.

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