Mount Abe field hockey falls to Mount Mansfield, 2-0
BRISTOL — Two high school field hockey teams that had generated some recent momentum met at Mount Abraham this past Friday, and it was Mount Mansfield, not the host Eagles that kept moving forward.
The 5-3-1, Division I Cougars used speed and solid defense to stretch their unbeaten streak to five games with a 2-0 victory. The Eagles, who had won two of their past three — including a 2-0 win at Middlebury two days before — dropped to 3-6.
Coach Mary Stetson said to succeed against MMU on Friday the Eagles needed the focus and intensity she believed they showed in stretches, but not for the entire game.
“That’s why the game is 60 minutes long, and that’s what we need to keep in mind,” Stetson said.
The Cougars might have had a slight edge in play over the first 20 minutes of the game, but the Eagles gained territory, too. Senior center midfielder Danielle Bachand and senior Ashley Turner and junior Margaret Moody on the midfield flanks all worked well to disrupt the Cougars and create chances.
Serves by Bachand and Moody created penalty corners, and senior defensive central midfielder Ellie Gevry created an anxious moment for the Cougars with a drive into the circle. Turner also helped the defense of senior Macey Ross and sophomores Emily Aldrich and Robyn Arena by carrying the ball out of trouble.
Stetson said her defense played well, and is becoming a team strength.
“The whole team needed to be strong to the ball today, and we weren’t,” Stetson said. “But I do think our defense is developing and flexing its muscles and making things difficult for other people. They had a nice game today.”
The Cougars came on strong after an MMU timeout at 10:01. Before halftime, Eagle senior goalie Danielle Morse (five saves) stopped a Shannon Springer one-timer from close range, came out to cut the angle down on Perry Willett at the right post, and denied a Springer bid from the top of the circle.
The Cougars kept the heat on after the break and earned a penalty corner two minutes in. Morse made a save on Maeve Poleman, but the Eagles couldn’t clear, and Springer knocked in the rebound at 27:49.
At 21:59, Springer struck again, this time one-timing a Poleman cross from the right side into the lower left corner.
The Eagles began to come to life offensively down the stretch, but found it hard to line up shots against the MMU defense. Bachand continued to stickhandle effectively, Turner carried the ball into the circle twice, Gevry had another solid serve, forward Jackie Reiss threatened with 12 minutes to go, and Moody forced MMU goalie Jess Peura to make her only save with about 11 minutes to go when she fired on the cage after winning the ball in a scramble.
But Stetson said she saw too little of that action against the Cougars.
“When we possess and execute our game plan, we’re a tough team to beat,” Stetson said. “And I think today we just never got in a rhythm to execute our game plan.”
On the other hand, she also recalled the strong efforts in the recent wins over MUHS and Champlain Valley.
“If we decide that we come prepared mentally and physically, I think we’re able to compete with every team that we face,” Stetson said.
And, as always, the Eagles are a Division II team playing a D-I schedule in the Metro Conference. Their only D-II game this year was a highly competitive, 1-0 loss at U-32 — and the Raiders are 9-0 and easily in first place in D-II.
Stetson said she remains optimistic about her team’s prospects regardless of its win-loss record the rest of the way, and long as the Eagles remember the nature of their schedule.
“They can’t let themselves wear down mentally,” she said. “It will be how well they come through this.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at email@example.com.
EAGLE JUNIOR JACKIE Reiss gains a step on Mount Mansfield opponent Perry Willett during field hockey action in Bristol last Friday.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell