Defending D-II champion Otter Valley field hockey falls in semifinal

MIDDLEBURY — The Otter Valley Union High School field hockey team’s quest for a second straight Division II title came to an end under the lights of Middlebury College’s Kohn Field on Monday evening, when No. 2 Woodstock defeated the No. 3 Otters, 2-0, in a D-II quarterfinal.
After an opening thrust by OV, the 10-4-1 Wasps took control and earned advantages of 8-3 in shots on goal and 13-6 in penalty corners on the fast turf field.
For most of the game, the Wasps, who advanced to play Springfield (10-4-1) in Saturday’s final at the University of Vermont, were first to the ball and linked up with each other better than the Otters, who also, unlike the Wasps, often struggled to stay on their feet on the slick surface. 
Coach Stacey Edmunds-Brickell said her 8-6 team simply did not play its best on Monday, while also crediting the Wasps.
“We actually usually like playing on this surface, and I think we play fairly well on fast fields. And we’ve done well on turf fields in the past. We were just off tonight,” Edmunds-Brickell said. “Woodstock is a great team. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t feel badly losing to them. They’re a great team. But it would have been nice if we were on our game.”
OV did carry play for the first six minutes. In the first 20 seconds, leading scorer Allison Lowell bolted down the center of the field and unleashed a wicked drive that went wide to the left of Wasp goalie Molly Henne (three saves).
The Otters also earned two penalty corners as they pressed early on, but could not generate a good look on goal.
Then the tide began to turn, and defender Courtney Randall and midfielders Courtney Bushey and Alyssa Falco had to break up Wasp rushes.
In the ninth minute, the Wasps earned their first penalty corner and made it count. The OV defense stopped the initial shot, but could not clear. The ball bounced to Miranda Johnson off the right post, and she rapped home a shot into the far side past OV goalie Myliah McDonough (six saves) at 20:58.
The Otters did level the playing field as the half wore on. With about 14 minutes to go, Lowell carried toward the circle and found Sophie Markowski to the right of the Wasp goal, and Markowski’s cross was just out of Chelsea Reed’s reach at the far post.
Late in the half, Henne made two big saves on penalty corners. On one she stopped Katie Coolidge’s point-blank bid set up by Sophie Bloomer’s feed from the left side, and on the other Henne kicked away a Reed shot from the top of the circle.
The Otters finished the half with edges in shots, 2-1, and corners, 5-3, and often this season they had played well in the second half — including earning a 2-0 edge on the scoreboard in their 4-2 quarterfinal win vs. Burr & Burton three days before.
But the Wasps had other ideas, earning five penalty corners in the first five minutes of the second half and scoring on the third one. McDonough stopped a Loretta Blakeney drive on the first, but the Wasps were awarded the second on the play.
McDonough denied Blakeney again, but Mariah Luce corralled the rebound to the right of goal and fed Lily Doton for the tap-in out front, and it was 2-0 with 26:39 to go.
The Wasps nearly added to the lead on the next two corners, but McDonough racked up two more saves on the next one, and OV center back Meghan Hallett took charge and carried the ball out of harm’s way on the last corner in the series.
OV played with urgency after that score, but still couldn’t generate good looks on Henne. Lowell shot wide with 16 minutes left under pressure after one long run. Another Lowell run five minutes later triggered a scramble, but the Otters couldn’t line up a shot.
Woodstock then regained control and territory, earning three corners and bottling up OV as the time ran out on the Otters’ season and on the careers of eight seniors who helped the program win the 2015 title: Kaitlyn Anderson, Sophia Bloomer, Courtney Bushey, Alyssa Falco, Meghan Hallett, Allison Lowell, Myliah McDonough and Courtney Randall.
“It’s hard that we’re losing eight,” Edmunds-Brickell said. “They were really banking on getting to the end this time around. But, hey we’ll rebuild next year and go for it again. We’ve produced some great field hockey players at Otter Valley.”

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