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Otter field hockey slips past Eagles, 1-0

BRANDON — The No. 7 Mount Abraham Union High School field hockey team had host No. 2 Otter Valley on the ropes for much of Friday’s Division II quarterfinal, piling up a 13-5 edge in penalty corners, 7-1 in the first half.
But the Eagles couldn’t land punches on the stingy OV defense, and midway through the second half the 12-2 Otters came out swinging to earn a 1-0 win.
The goal came suddenly. From the left sideline, senior OV middie Laura Beth Roberts drove a ball into the Eagle circle to trigger a wild melee in front of Mount Abe goalie Danielle Morse, who made both of her two saves of the afternoon in this sequence.
OV forwards Allison Lowell, Courtney Bushey and Jenna Elliott scrambled after the ball with Eagle defenders Vanessa Malloy, Ellie Gevry, Jen Gordon and Gabby Ryan, who was hurt in the scrum and did not return. Until then, that defense — with support from Mount Abe’s midfield of Danielle Bachand, Margaret Moody and Ashley Turner — had been airtight.
But the ball popped to the fourth OV forward, senior Kylee Bissette, who rapped it inside the left post with 14:58 to play.
Bissette described the play as a blur of bodies, but was sure of one thing. 
“It was a real good team effort,” Bissette said. “It was awesome.”
From there, momentum swung to the Otters, and Bachand made a defensive save on OV’s Karlee Brown on one OV corner.
Bissette agreed the goal sparked OV down the stretch.
“It fired us up,” Bissette said. “We said to ourselves, ‘We wanted it. This is our year.’”
The Eagles did earn three consecutive corners around the nine-minute mark. But Hannah Wahl could not quite convert a serve from the right side on the third one, and OV sophomore defender Meghan Hallett cleared.
Before OV’s late surge, the Eagles had plenty of territory, even if OV goalie Myliah McDonough only faced one shot. Forwards Kennady Roy and Bailey Sherwin created pressure and corners, and Gevry joined the midfielders in keeping most play in the OV end.
Eagle coach Mary Stetson —whose team’s 7-8 record includes seven losses to top-five D-I seeds — praised her team’s effort.
“We came here to play our little game and keep pressure on the ball,” Stetson said. “I couldn’t be any prouder of these guys. They did a great job.”
But she has seen many games where failing to translate territory into goals proves costly.
“As the time goes by, 0-0, and you’re dominating that much, you get nervous,” Stetson said. “We moved the ball well, changed fields well, did Eagle hockey. I’m not disappointed in this great group of girls. There’s only one team happy in the end.”
She also credited the Otters.
“Hats off to Otter Valley. They were very opportunistic,” Stetson said.
OV Coach Stacey Edmunds-Brickell credited her defenders, senior Marissa Colburn, sophomore Sophia Bloomer and Hallett.
“This was our best defensive game all season,” Edmunds-Brickell said. “Meghan, Sophie and Marissa were incredibly strong.”
They received major help from midfielders Roberts and junior Amy Jones, especially on penalty corners, while OV’s third midfielder, junior Maia Edmunds, keyed OV’s attack with solid drives and passing.
Edmunds-Brickell agreed her team did “get energized” after Bissette’s goal, even though she really only sends in substitutes when players are banged up — her 11 starters rarely leave the field.
“They’re tough girls, aren’t they?” she said.
Next up for OV is a Monday semifinal vs. No. 3 U-32 (13-2) at Castleton State College. The Otters and Raiders have not met this fall, but results against two common foes suggest an even match. The Eagles beat the Raiders, 1-0, on Sept. 6, and on Saturday, U-32 defeated No. 6 Woodstock in overtime, 3-2, in another quarterfinal. OV lost once to Woodstock, 1-0, and beat the Wasps twice, 3-2 and 2-1.
Edmunds-Brickell said she was happy to see OV avoid the first-round losses of recent years and live to play another day.
“We broke the first round curse,” she said. “We went to Castleton the other night just to get on the turf, and they loved it. They love playing field hockey. And I just wanted to get them there.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.

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