OV field hockey wins to stay near top of D-II

BRANDON — The Otter Valley Union High School field hockey team entertained its homecoming crowd on Saturday with a strong effort, a 3-0 victory over Springfield. 
The Otters outshot the Cosmos, 20-1, and got two goals from junior Alia Edmunds and one from freshman Brittney Jackson. They improved to 6-2 and trail only 5-0-2 Mount Abraham in the Division II standings.
Coach Stacey Edmunds was happy to see her team play more aggressively than she thought they did in a 2-1 loss at home to Woodstock three days before. 
“We did go after the ball a little better today. We were flat against Woodstock. That changes our game enormously. When we stay after the ball that keeps the tempo up and we do play better,” Edmunds said. “So that’s what I try to say to them, maintain that attack consistently and we’ll be much better off.”
Despite 13 first-half shots and constant pressure it took until 10:56 was left in the period for OV to dent Cosmo goalie Anna Church (17 saves). Jackson, a wing, picked up the ball in the top right of the circle and took a touch forward before finding the goal’s far side from about 10 yards out.
In the second half Church stopped both junior Morgan LaPorte and Edmunds in the second minute. But with 2:17 gone Edmunds followed a ball that bounced to the right of the Cosmo goal and pounded a sharply angled shot past Church’s right pad and inside the left post. 
The Otters continued to rack up penalty corners, 19 in all, and one on with about 16 minutes to go Church denied freshman Alice Keith and then Riley Keith on the rebound, both from point blank. 
At 13:45 Edmunds solved her again. Senior midfielder Sophie Markowski led Edmunds into the circle, and she shot low from near the penalty dot into Church’s pads. Edmunds followed and tucked the rebound into the right side.
Edmunds subbed freely, a luxury she has that the Otters lacked last season with a smaller squad. There is a downside, with not enough numbers to field a JV team, but several freshmen are contributing. Edmunds said with the reinforcements the team has offensive balance that at times has been missing in the past. 
“The nicest change for us this year is we have some scoring depth,” Edmunds said. “I think nine or 10 of our players have scored this year. From freshmen to seniors we have girls that can put the balls in the cage.”
OTTER VALLEY UNION High School freshman Brittney Jackson spins and fires a shot on Springfield goalie Anna Church Saturday in Brandon. Jackson had one goal in the Otters’ 3-0 win.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
OV also has a three-year starter in goal in junior Ellie Ross. Edmunds said is confident in Ross and her defense of returning starter Gabriella LaGrange (one of three only seniors on the team along with Markowski and midfielder/defender Jordan Laraway) in the middle and junior veteran Livia Bernhardt and sophomore Jadynn Pope on the flanks.
“When I have those three in the back that’s a really solid backfield,” Edmunds said. 
After Saturday’s game she praised her midfield’s effort to transition the ball into the attack, notably junior Isabella Falco. 
“It was a good effort, good ball movement today,” she said. 
 The Otters will be challenged down the stretch by Burr & Burton, fifth place in D-II, and Windsor, at 6-2 second in D-III; both those teams defeated OV last fall. But Edmunds is confident her team can continue to thrive. 
“I’m anxious to see how we fare against the likes of Burr & Burton and Windsor,” Edmunds said. “I think that these girls have potential to solidify as we finish out the season.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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