Field hockey: Eagles ground Cosmos in first-round game
BRISTOL — The No. 7 Mount Abraham Union High School field hockey team on Tuesday overwhelmed visiting No. 10 Springfield, 4-0, in a first-round Division II playoff game.
The 7-7 Eagles will next play at another area field hockey team, No. 2 Otter Valley (the 11-2 Marble Valley League A Division champ), in a Friday quarterfinal at 3:45 p.m.
The third local squad, Middlebury (7-4-2), earned the No. 4 seed in D-I and will host No. 5 South Burlington (8-5) on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Both Mount Abe and MUHS play in the Metro Conference, in which the Eagles are the only D-II team. Meanwhile, Springfield (2-11-1) competes in the Marble Valley League B Division.
On Tuesday, it looked like the Cosmos were not ready to step up a weight class — the Eagles outshot them, 17-0, and earned 28 penalty corners to Springfield’s one.
Senior forward and co-captain Bailey Sherwin, who knocked home the Eagles’ second goal, said the Eagles entered the postseason focused on their game, not their opponents, and that Metro play prepared them for the playoffs.
“We came in not thinking about (other teams’) skill levels, but just thinking about our end goal in mind and where we wanted to go,” Sherwin said. “But it definitely helps us improve during the season to play more difficult teams.”
Coach Mary Stetson said the Eagles’ schedule should help them even more against OV, which faced a tougher slate than the Cosmos, who lost three D-I games. The Otters were 5-0 vs. D-I opponents, and Stetson expects a battle.
“I think it prepares you more for the Friday game than it prepares you for today’s game,” Stetson said. “I think resiliency is developed by playing in the Metro. And that’s what we hopes comes through, because that’s the biggest piece, being resilient, being confident in what you can do well, and executing it.”
On Tuesday vs. Springfield, the Eagles dominated from the start. Right wing Kennady Roy gave the Eagles an early lift, forcing several early corners and launching shots at Cosmo goalie Aunna Parker (10 saves), tipping one shot off the left post.
Roy finally gave Mount Abe the lead at 14:33 on a corner, taking a Celia Heath feed and knocking a shot from the right side inside the far post.
The Cosmos didn’t reach the Eagle circle until the 26th minute, when they earned their only corner of the game. Eagle defenders Gabby Ryan and Ellie Gevry and middies Danielle Bachand and Jordee Lathrop teamed up to defend the corner and a secondary attack. For the most part, Ryan, Gevry, and outside backs Jen Gordon and Vanessa Malloy had little to do.
That’s because Gevry, the more forward of the Eagles’ central defenders; Bachand, the center middie; and the Eagle flank midfielders — Ashley Turner and Margaret Moody started — locked the Cosmos in their own end and let the Eagle forwards go to work.
The Eagles also countered the Cosmos’ long hitting with effective ball movement, something Sherwin said Stetson emphasized as the postseason neared.
“Stets has been telling us non-stop, little ball, little ball,” Sherwin said. “Springfield plays a big game, so they would just hit the ball, hit the ball. But we found that little passes would help our game, and got us four goals.”
The pressure didn’t pay off again until the second half. After Cosmo defender Emilia Battista, who broke up many of the Eagles’ first-half corners, stopped an early second-half corner, the Eagles quickly came back on the attack. Roy burst down the right side and fed the cutting Sherwin, who one-timed the ball from about 20 feet into the near corner at 24:00.
After seven more corners, the Eagles earned a penalty stroke, and Stetson waived Ryan up from the back. She whipped it home into the left side, and it was 3-0 at 10:51. Heath made it 4-0 at 4:59, pouncing on a rebound as the Eagles swarmed around Parker.
Stetson hopes to see more of the same against Otter Valley, and beyond.
“Kids were dialing because it’s the postseason now,” she said. “Hopefully they’ll stay dialed in.”
If the Eagles continue to advance, Sherwin said, it will be because they play their game.
“We just think about ourselves and what we’re capable of,” she said. “And we know we can make it all the way if we push ourselves and everyone plays to their best ability.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].
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