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OV field hockey gets key win vs. Patriots

BRANDON — The Otter Valley Union High School field hockey team carried an edge in play for most of the Otters’ Monday home game vs. Mount Anthony, but fell behind, 1-0, with 6:21 to play.
But the Otters, and senior forward Brittany Bushey, had the answer.
Bushey converted a feed from sophomore middie Maia Edmunds to tie the game a minute after an Amber Morse breakaway put MAU on top.
In overtime, junior Marissa Colburn sent the ball to Bushey outside the MAU scoring circle. A defender obstructed Bushey as she entered the circle, and the official called a delayed penalty as the Patriot fell, but allowed play to continue. Bushey took a couple more strides and then unleashed a 12-yard bullet inside the far left post to end the game with 1:48 gone in the extra session.
Bushey described the play.
“I didn’t know what they (the officials) were going to do when that girl fell, but I guess it kept going,” she said. “And all I could think of was just drive it, don’t stop, keep going.”
The goal allowed OV to defeat an 8-4 Division I team and improve to 9-3. The Otters also evened their record vs. D-I foes at 3-3 and avenged a 2-1 setback at MAU on Oct. 10.
The Otters also picked up points in a tight race with Mount Abraham and Harwood for the Nos. 2 through 4 seeds in D-II with two games left in the regular season: Undefeated D-III favorite Bellows Falls was set to visit OV on Wednesday, and OV will host Woodstock on Friday. The Vermont Principals’ Association will announce playoff pairings on Monday.
After this past Monday’s game, Bushey refused to look too far ahead.
“It feels good to keep winning and beat the Division I teams, but on any given day anything can happen,” she said.
But Bushey acknowledged the result was important.
“It’s just nice to have another win under our belt and know that we’re capable of beating a good team like this,” she said.
The Otters started quickly on Monday, earning four penalty corners in the first 11 minutes, with Edmunds and junior Laura Roberts doing good work at midfield and Bushey and freshman Allison Lowell pressing up front.
But MAU had good chances on its first corner, in the 13th minute, and OV freshman goalie Myliah McDonough (three saves) denied Makayla Farrara and Katharine Douette. Later in the half, McDonough did well to hold the near post on Farrara’s tip attempt.
OV kept coming, and MAU goalie Leah Holland (12 saves) stopped Edmunds, and the Otters couldn’t poke home the rebound. Freshman Courtney Bushey and Lowell fired just wide, and as the scoreless half ended two Otters couldn’t quite tip home an Edmunds drive.
MAU deserved credit defensively, as the Patriots laid back to disrupt the Otters’ long-hitting tactics. OV coach Stacey Edmunds-Brickell also agreed her team was not linking up as well as usual, although as the second half wore on the Otters stepped up their passing game.
“I think they played well. We were a little flat at times, hanging out behind the defense and not passing as well as I know we can. We started to come into that,” Edmunds-Brickell said.
MAU earned four corners early in the second half — despite being outshot, 14-4, the Patriots earned an 8-7 edge in penalty corners.
But the OV defense held, with seniors Olivia Bloomer and Alexia Colburn and sophomore Ann Manning as well as Marissa Colburn all making plays, and OV began to counter. Junior forward Jenna Elliott tipped a Bushey serve just wide, and MAU defender Makenzie Wicks broke up a potential breakaway.
An official also disallowed an OV goal, ruling it came from outside the circle, although junior Kylee Bissette insisted she had relayed the ball home.
In the final 15 minutes, OV played their best field hockey of the game, launching three shots on Holland in one sequence, the best bid coming off Bissette’s stick.
But MAU scored against the flow of play. Farrara sent Morse down the right side. Morse beat one defender, went in alone and found the near side at 6:21.
The lead did not last long. Edmunds found Bushey cutting to the right of the penalty stroke line, and Bushey one-timed a shot inside the right post at 5:15.
Edmunds-Brickell said her team was determined to play well down the stretch.
“They just knew they had to dig deeper as the game went on … and they did,” she said. “They really wanted this win.”
OV almost won in regulation, but an MAU defender deflected another Bissette bid wide with two minutes to go.
Then Bushey put what Edmunds-Brickell called an appropriate end to the game.
“Brittany has played phenomenal field hockey this season,” Edmunds-Brickell said. “It couldn’t be more fitting to have Brittany score that goal.”
And Edmunds-Brickell said the Otters are excited for next week’s playoffs — and for the fall they have already enjoyed.
“We’re ready for anything,” Edmunds-Brickell said. “We’re happy to have had the great season we’ve had so far. The team has been really positive, which is nice. They’re having fun. And so we’re ready to go and go as far as we can. And I know the girls want to go all the way.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.

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