Field hockey: Tigers win, Eagles next; winner could get OV
ADDISON COUNTY — The No. 8 Middlebury Union High School field hockey team won its first-round Division II playoff game on Wednesday, a result that ensures at least one local team will play in a D-II semifinal on Monday.
And a win by No. 4 Otter Valley on Friday will guarantee one of the three area programs will take the field at the University of Vermont on Nov. 3 with a shot to win the D-II title.
The 2-12 Tigers’ 2-0 home win on Wednesday over No. 9 Springfield moved them into a Friday quarterfinal at No. 1 Mount Abraham (8-3-3).
And the winner of that game will play in a 3:30 p.m. Monday semifinal at the University of Vermont — against the winner of Friday’s other 3:30 p.m. quarterfinal between No. 4 OV (9-5) and No. 5 Brattleboro (6-7-1).
In other words, there’s a better than even chance either Mount Abe, OV or MUHS will make it through to the D-II final next Saturday.
The Tigers’ solid effort on Wednesday increased those odds, at least slightly, although they would have to avenge a pair of regular-season losses to Mount Abe to make it through to Monday.
The Tigers controlled play throughout, outshooting the 2-12 Cosmos by 11-3. The midfield work of Anabel Hernandez on the right, Kaitlyn McNamara in the middle and Aby LaRock on the left was critical in helping the Tigers dictate tempo, and Maeve Hammel and Phoebe Smith consistently threatened on the attack.
Those two combined for the first Tiger goal, 11:57 into the first half. Smith carried into the right side of the Springfield circle and served to the middle, and Hammel cut in from the left side and one-timed the ball solidly into the middle of the cage past Cosmo goalie Anna Church (eight saves).
Even though MUHS had just scored Tiger Coach Chelsey Giuliani called for time. The Cosmos were creating chances by playing the ball long to three players in particular, and Springfield forward Chloe Brown was stationing herself deep behind the Tiger backs. Giuliani said she instructed McNamara and LaRock to mark the outlets and reminded her backs to be careful of Brown, and most Cosmo chances dried up.
Still, the Cosmos earned a penalty corner nine minutes into the second half, and defender Lydia Deppman made a defensive save. Deppman, moved to central defense due to the absence of starter Carly Larocque, played well, and JV callup Sarah Nicolai and Kate Berthiaume were solid on the flanks.
Tiger goalie Ileigh Aube (two saves) made a strong stop on a penalty corner five minutes later, but then the Tigers took control. They countered after that corner with two of their own, and three minutes later Grace Widelitz poked home a loose ball from close range to make it 2-0.
The Tigers locked down defensively from there to punch their date with the Eagles.