Eagle field hockey keeps rolling, blanks Tigers

BRISTOL — The Mount Abraham Union High School field hockey team remained on a roll this past Thursday, this time at visiting Middlebury’s expense.
The improving Tigers battled the Eagles, but could not stop their hosts from remaining unbeaten with their 4-0 victory.
Mount Abe improved to 6-0-2 and retained a solid lead in the Division II standings over second-place Burr & Burton at 6-3. The Eagles have tough D-I games remaining against the likes of South Burlington, Colchester, Essex and Rice, but are almost certain to host a playoff quarterfinal before the semifinal and final are played on neutral turf-field sites.
The Eagles are succeeding despite graduating a half-dozen senior starters, rebuilding their entire defense, and installing two players into key new roles — seniors Evan Laurent, formerly a forward, and Casondra Dykstra, formerly an outside midfielder, have taken over at offensive and defensive central midfield, respectively.
Coach Mary Stetson said the Eagles have been winning because of chemistry and hard work.
“This group of girls just wants to get the job done as a whole. They really couldn’t care less who scores. They just want to work as a team to be successful,” she said.
Senior goalie Chessley Jackman (four saves in about 45 minutes Thursday) is in her third year in goal, and she and the all-junior defense of Maizy Shepard in the middle, Camille Lyons on the left and Abby Hoff on the right have surrendered just three goals in eight games.
On Thursday the Eagles allowed the hardworking Tigers five shots. Stetson said the group has excelled in limiting other teams’ chances and moving the ball out of the back.
“That’s another thing we’ve been working on, keeping the traffic out of the middle,” she said. “They’ve done a good job. And they’re creating more transition with a harder hit out.”
TIGER SOPHOMORE CLARA Wolff tees up a clearing pass next to Eagle defender Casondra Dykstra last Thursday afternoon. Mount Abraham won the game, 4-0.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
Balanced scoring and depth completes the picture. On Thursday senior Jalen Cook found the cage twice, and Laurent and sophomore middie Elizabeth Porter off the bench added a goal apiece. It was no surprise to see a reserve score as Stetson substituted freely.
“We don’t really miss a beat when we change lines,” she said.
MUHS Coach Chelsey Giuliani saw her team drop to 1-7. The Tigers recently picked up their first win and took host Burlington into overtime two days before.
Giuliani said the quality of her team’s play is improving, particularly in ball movement, largely due to consistent effort.
“When we were at our best in both the first and second halves I saw some really nice connections. And they’re working really hard to polish the skill,” she said. “We still have a lot of work to do, but … I never have to wonder if the work ethic is there.”
After about five minutes on Thursday the Eagles began to take charge. Tiger goalie Ileigh Aube (five saves) stopped Cook in the sixth minute, and Eagle freshmen forwards Molly Laurent and Ava Konczal threatened on early corner. On their second corner Cook tapped Molly Laurent’s feed from the left side home inside the right post at 21:20 to make it 1-0.
At 13:58 a ball bounced to Evan Laurent near the top of the Tiger circle. Her shot hit a defender and deflected into the left side, and it was 2-0.
Then the Tiger attack sparked as the midfield of seniors Anabel Hernandez on the right, Kaitlyn McNamara in the middle and Aby LaRock on the left generated some push. In the 18th minute Jackman cleared away the first Tiger shot, from senior forward Grace Widelitz.
EAGLE SENIOR OLIVIA Heath blocks a pass by Tiger sophomore Lydia Deppman during Mount Abraham’s 4-0 win last Thursday.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
Junior forward Phoebe Smith’s serve with about 10 minutes left in the half led to the Tigers’ first penalty corner, and they did everything except score. Smith, Hernandez, Olivia Audet and sophomore wing Clara Wolff swarmed Jackman, who came off her line to make three pad saves. Dykstra made a fourth stop near the right post before the Eagles cleared the ball away.
The Eagles regrouped and forced four more corners during the rest of the half. Aube stopped Evan Laurent and Dykstra to keep the score in check, Hernandez cleared away a Cook cross and the Tiger defense of senior Carly Larocque in the middle and junior Katherine Berthiaume and sophomore Lydia Deppman on the flanks held up.
But the Eagles kept their momentum in the second half. At 21:30 Porter made it 3-0 on a penalty corner. The ball deflected to her near the top of the circle, and her low shot found the right corner. Fifty-one seconds later Cook raced down the left side and whipped a shot into the far side.
The Tigers controlled the final 10 minutes, during which they forced two penalty corners. But the pressure did not translate into great chances as the Eagles locked down the win.
Giuliani was happy to see her team fight to the end, and believes the best is yet to come.
“If everybody on the field performs, we haven’t hit that yet,” she said. “Definitely that’s our trajectory.”
Stetson saw the Eagles make progress in ball movement, double-teaming ballcarriers, and creating more end-to-end ball pressure overall. That kind of improvement could help the Eagles achieve their larger goals, she said.
“We just hope we can keep it going and play as long as we possibly can,” she said.

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