Otter field hockey blanks Raiders, snaps skid

BRANDON — The defending Division II champion Otter Valley Union High School field hockey team snapped a four-game skid on Monday, when the Otters blanked D-I rival Rutland, 2-0.
OV improved to 5-4 heading into a Wednesday game at D-I Mount Anthony (2-3-2), but more importantly, said Coach Stacey Edmunds-Brickell, raised the level of their play on Monday.
“We’ve been playing flat, not moving to the ball. Our rotation’s been off,” Edmunds-Brickell said. “But I think we had a little speed today. Our ball movement was good. Coverage was good. Things just seemed to click. It was working at the beginning at the season, and we just hit a bit of a lull. But we’re ready to come back and do what we know we can do.”
To be fair, three of those losses were to tough teams: undefeated defending D-III champion Bellows Falls in overtime, D-II contender Woodstock (5-2) on the road, and D-I contender Hartford (8-1-1) on the road. The Otters have also dealt with injuries to starting senior defender Courtney Randall and senior midfielder Sophie Bloomer, both of whom had returned by Monday.
“We also had everybody except one person back on the field,” Edmunds-Brickell said. “It does make a difference when we have our core back in their positions.”
The Otters scored both their goals in the first half, making the most of their 3-1 advantage in shots on goal in the first 30 minutes. Senior Allison Lowell tallied the first at 20:58, knocking the ball home from off the left post after senior Chelsea Reed tapped the ball to her. Reed made it 2-0 at 14:34. Freshman Isabella Falco sent the ball in from the right side to Reed at the right post, and she rapped it home from point-blank range.
Bloomer on the right side teamed up with senior Courtney Bushey in the middle to control much of the midfield play, and the defense of Randall, senior Meghan Hallett and sophomore Gabriella LaGrange did well all game to limit Rutland shots (despite eight Raider penalty corners, to OV’s nine) and to step up at midfield to break up plays.
Up front, senior Kaitlyn Anderson and freshman Morgan LaPorte also created threats for the Otters, who dominated most of the second half and forced Raider goalie Emily Lanzillo to make five saves in all.
OV finished with 7-3 edge in shots, and senior goalie Myliah McDonough (two saves) and freshman Ellie Ross (one save, a big stop on Rutland standout Marina Rotella in the final minute) combined on the shutout.
Edmunds-Brickell believes the Otters are capable of making another postseason run. 
“That’s what we’re working for. They all know the season’s not over. We talked about the fact that it doesn’t really matter what our record is right now,” she said. “We just need to keep working on our game and be ready when the playoffs start.”   OTTER VALLEY UNION High School forward Chelsea Reed knocks the ball away from Rutland’s Nicole Denno during Monday’s game in Brandon.
Independent photo/Evan Johnson

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