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OV field hockey earns tie

BRANDON — Despite not putting its best foot forward on Saturday, the Otter Valley Union High School field hockey team earned a 2-2 tie with visiting Division I foe Hartford and took another step toward the No. 2 seed for the upcoming Division II playoffs.
The Otters are 8-1-3, a record that includes a 2-0-2 mark against D-I competition, with two games left in the regular season against the D-I teams they have already defeated this fall. They play at Mount Anthony on Tuesday and host Rutland on Thursday.
On Saturday, in tying Hartford — at 6-3-3 the fifth-place team in D-I — for the second time this fall, the Otters were outshot, 10-2. OV Coach Stacey Edmunds-Brickell acknowledged the Hurricanes were most often first to loose balls and carried most of the play. Hartford also earned an 11-3 advantage in penalty corners.
But Edmunds-Brickell could also point to the fact OV made the most out of their chances.
“Our passing game is improving, but when you’re not moving for the ball, and the other team is winning the ball, it doesn’t matter if you’re passing game is improving,” Edmunds-Brickell said. “But it’s not that we didn’t do some good things. We looked dangerous at times.”
One of those times came at 19:21 of the first half. The Otters worked the ball into the Hartford circle, and after OV forward Kaitlyn Anderson had a whack at it near the left post, the ball bounced to OV sniper Allison Lowell, just inside the top of the circle. Her drive back toward the left post bounced off a defender and in behind Hartford goalie Rachel Losby. Lowell has scored in all but two of OV’s 12 games.
Hartford forced five penalty corners in the first half, but the OV defense of Meghan Hallett in the middle and Sophia Bloomer and Courtney Randall on the flanks limited the Hurricanes’ chances, with help from middie Maia Edmunds — the team’s only senior — and Lowell on the Hartford corners. Goalie Myliah McDonough made only two of her eight saves before the break.
The Hurricanes equalized on their first second-half corner. McDonough stopped the first shot, but Brooke Hurd wristed home the rebound from short range at 28:15.
OV dominated the next few minutes — with good efforts from Lowell, Edmunds, and middies Alyssa Falco, Chelsea Read and Courtney Bushey — and retook the lead at 23:54. OV worked the ball to Bushey in the left corner, and she whipped the ball across the goalmouth with a strong reverse sweep. Anderson was there at the far post for the tip-in.
Hartford regained control, and three minutes later McDonough stopped Megan Newtown’s point-blank bid. But shortly afterward the Hurricanes forced consecutive corners. On the second, McDonough made the initial stop, but Hartford’s Morgan Pero tapped home the rebound at 16:05.
OV limited Hartford’s chances the rest of regulation and generated a couple opportunities, including a long Lowell hit from the right side that just missed connecting with the hustling Falco. The Otters also had two late corners they could not cash in. In overtime, McDonough kicked the ball out of trouble a couple times, and OV had one opportunity, but a pressured Lowell shot went wide as the teams’ settled for the deadlock.  
Edmunds-Brickell said if her team was going to have an off day, she would accept earning a tie and having it happen before the postseason.
“It’s better than a loss, but we were certainly off today,” Edmunds-Brickell said. “But better to get it out of the way now.”
As far as the big picture, she praised her team of just 15 players, including four freshmen and one senior, for their work ethic and coachability.
 “Every one of these kids has been able to rotate through positions when I have asked them to, given injuries and changing formations depending on who we’re playing,” Edmund-Brickell said. “These girls have learned to adapt. They work hard and they know that they all have to give everything.”
The team has proven to be well rounded, she said.
“We’ve been strong up front. We’ve been solid down the middle. We’ve got solid defense. Myliah has been strong in the goal,” Edmunds-Brickell said.
And she is optimistic about the postseason.
“The girls have good energy. They’re excited,” Edmunds-Brickell said. “They still want this, and that’s what counts.”

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