Field hockey: Otters’ season ends in OT heartbreak

CASTLETON — For most of Monday’s Division II field hockey semifinal, No. 2 Otter Valley Union High School looked like the better team even without leading scorer Allison Lowell, who took ill just as the Otters were boarding their bus to leave for Castleton State College.
But in overtime, No. 3 U-32 (14-2) carried most of the play against the shorthanded Otters. With 2:10 to go in the second overtime, Raider sniper Abigail Daniels’ second goal of the game and 28th of the fall pinned a heartbreaking, 2-1 loss on OV.
Although U-32 earned a 10-7 edge in shots, several came in the roughly 18 minutes of extra time. The Otters had an 8-5 edge in regulation penalty corners that more accurately represented the flow of the game.
“I really do think we were the stronger team,” said OV Coach Stacey Edmunds-Brickell, whose team finished at 12-3 and won the Marble Valley League A Division title. “Sometimes it just doesn’t work out the way it should. Sadly for the girls it didn’t today.”
In overtime the fact that the Raiders had more subs available all game and that Edmunds-Brickell had to juggle her lineup took its toll on the Otters. She has basically 11 starters, with JV players filling in and holding their own on Monday.
“It just felt like we were constantly rotating, and that’s not easy,” Edmunds-Brickell said.
Although the Otters had one golden chance early in OT when junior middie Amy Jones found senior Kylie Bissette behind the U-32 defense, only to see the ball unluckily hit Bissette’s foot, the Raiders carried the play. OV goalie Myliah McDonough (eight saves) made a couple fine stops — notably denying Jasmine Moody from close range on a Daniels feed — and Jones and seniors Marissa Colburn and Laura Beth Roberts made defensive stops.
The game-winning play came after a disputed foul at midfield. U-32’s Olivia Dexter carried toward the circle with just one defender back and Daniels cutting in from the left. Dexter fed Daniels, and she found the lower right corner from two steps inside the circle; McDonough had no chance.
The Raiders had taken a first-half lead about 10 minutes in, when Moody set up Daniels in transition. After that play, the OV defense settled in, even when Edmunds-Brickell moved the versatile Colburn, normally the center back, to forward later in the game. Sophomores Meghan Hallett and Sophia Bloomer both played well in the back.
OV had the best chances in the rest of regulation. Right after the U-32 goal, Raider goalie Bailee Hudson denied Bissette from point-blank range on a feed from senior wing Jenna Elliott. Two minutes after that sophomore Kaitlyn Anderson, starting for Lowell, couldn’t quite finish a nice passing sequence from sophomore Courtney Bushey and Elliott.
Later in the half, Hudson (six saves) flashed her right pad to stop Elliott’s long-range bid and stopped a Bissette rebound, and Elliott couldn’t quite tip home a drive from junior center mid Maia Edmunds.
In the second half, the Otters pressed and earned four corners between the fifth and 11th minutes. U-32 regained some momentum, and Colburn broke up a corner before the Otters regrouped and went back on the attack. Bissette tipped two drives with no reward, but the Otters earned a corner with four minutes to go and finally broke through on a textbook play. The insert went to Edmunds, who slipped the ball to her left to Bissette, who relayed to the left post to Bushey for the tap-in.
OTTERS AMY JONES, left, and Jenna Elliott celebrate in front of falled U-32 goalie Bailee Hudson after Otter Valley tied the Division II semifinal game with less than four minutes to play in regulation Monday. Independent photo/Trent Campbell
OV had one last chance in regulation, a corner as time expired. They tried a similar play, but Bushey’s bid sailed just wide, and then the fresher Raiders took charge in overtime. 
OV will lose four senior starters: the speedy Elliott; Bissette, who made a habit of scoring key goals this fall; Colburn, who anchored the defense; and Roberts, a competitor at midfield who was probably the team’s best player on Monday.
Edmunds-Brickell praised all her Otters.
“It’s a great group of girls. I say we got this far with 11 girls. Granted, it’s not true. We have other girls who have been with us all along. But for the bulk of the season we’ve had 11 girls and they played every minute of every game to get to where we are now,” she said. “We’ve got a great group of younger girls who have been with them all along and will be with us next year. I can’t say one bad thing about this team. They have heart and spirit and determination like no other group.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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