Eagle field hockey overcomes Tigers, 2-0
MIDDLEBURY — The Mount Abraham Union High School field hockey team on Saturday continued its early-season march through the Division II portion of the schedule, but the Eagles met more resistance in defeating host Middlebury, 2-0, than they had in their first two games.
The 3-0 Eagles had outscored their first two opponents by 13-0, but Coach Mary Stetson said the Tigers made them earn their third victory.
“I’m very happy, especially today because they’re a real formidable opponent and they’re a rival, so it’s a big game,” Stetson said. “I thought our defense played really, really well. And hats off to their defense. They played very, very well.”
Coach Chelsey Giuliani’s Tigers dropped to 0-2 after two days losing their opener to D-I contender Champlain Valley. But she was happy with the effort by her young team, which has four seniors, against the Eagles, who can field eight seniors.
In particular, Giuliani said, the Tigers improved on points of emphases: communicating on the field, moving the ball quickly, and winning one-on-one battles. Overall, she said, the Tigers came away a better team after Saturday by matching the Eagles’ assertive play.
“They wanted to finish (on offense), but they felt like they played a pretty good game overall,” Giuliani said. “It’s really helpful to play teams like Mount Abe, who have a lot of intensity and physicality.”
The Eagles came out strong early and earned two quick penalty corners, forcing Tiger freshman first-half goalie Cassie Bettis to twice deny Eagle senior forward Jalen Cook.
The Eagles struck with 8:49 gone. Freshman forward Ava Konczal, who tallied both goals, started and finished the play. She carried down the right side and put the ball into the far side of the circle. Cook and senior center midfielder Evan Laurent battled the Tiger defense for the ball, and eventually Laurent worked the ball loose and pushed it across the front of the goal to Konczal, who was there for the tap-in.
The Tigers created a couple of first-half chances. Shortly after the goal junior left wing Maeve Hammel forced a penalty corner, and soon after that senior midfielder Anabel Hernandez crossed from the right side. Later in the half Tiger middie Aby LaRock had a look on another corner, but shot wide left.
That was a rare look on goal allowed by the Eagle all-junior defense of Maizy Shepard in the middle and Camille Lyons and Abby Hoff on the flanks. Senior Rosa Tropp also made a key stop late in the first half. In all, they allowed only two shots to reach senior goalie Chessley Jackman.
MOUNT ABRAHAM UNION High School freshman Molly Laurent moves the ball up the field against Middlebury Saturday morning.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
At midfield Laurent and senior Casondra Dykstra kept the ball moving to the Eagle attack, and Cook ranged all over the field winning balls.
“That sustained attack helped us create more opportunities,” Stetson said. “They’re trying to control that portion of the field for us.”
The best Eagle chances to pad the lead in the first half came on a penalty corner with 10 minutes to go, when Bettis (seven saves) kicked away sophomore Elizabeth Porter’s drive, and two minutes later, when Bettis stopped junior Sydney Perlee’s initial bid and then batted away senior Elayna Jennings’ attempt to knock in the rebound out of mid-air.
The Tiger defense of senior Carly Larocque in the middle, junior Katie Berthiaume on the left and sophomore Lydia Deppman on the right held up well under the pressure, holding the Eagles to 13 shots on goal in all.
In the second half Tiger junior goalie Ileigh Aube (four saves) denied Konczal early on. The Tigers had a chance to equalize on one early corner, but Lyons broke it up. A strong passing play from senior forward Grace Widelitz to LaRock to Hammel forced another corner with 12 minutes to go, but Cook defended the corner well.
The Eagles pressed down the stretch. Aube stopped Cook and Konczal, but with 41 seconds to go had no chance when freshmen Molly Laurent and Konczal broke in two on one. Konczal tipped Laurent’s drive inside the right post for the clinching score.
Stetson said she has been happy with how hungry her forwards have been and how well they have communicated. She also knows tough D-I games lie ahead, and said the Eagles have to stick to their guns.
EAGLE SENIOR JALEN Cook gets around Tiger sophomore Lois Alberts during Saturday morning’s game in Middlebury. Mount Abraham won the game, 2-0.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
“There’s no rest now in the schedule,” she said. “I like our style of play, so it’s how well we control things, and not watch the other team and decide how we’re going to adjust to the other team. It’s being confident.”
For Giuliani, she said so far the Tigers have done well on their primary goal: focusing on getting better and not worrying about results.
“It’s really encouraging how accepting they are of viewing every game as a learning opportunity. And it makes me hopeful that we can go a lot farther this season with really teachable athletes,” she said. “They really are learning from every practice, every game, and I feel strongly that happened again today.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].
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