Published in the November 11, 2015 edition
By MAUREEN DOHERTY
LYNNFIELD— In a showdown worthy of a tournament championship game, the Pioneers field hockey team battled furiously with Marblehead through 60 minutes of regulation play followed by two 15-minute sudden death overtime periods, only to remain deadlocked in a 1-1 tie.
To break the stalemate in the first round game of the MIAA Div. 2 North state tournament last Wednesday at Pioneer Stadium, the outcome was decided on strokes in a best-of-five format.
Ultimately, the Magicians prevailed by making three of their shots against one scored by the Pioneers. The victory enabled the 10th seeded Magicians (7-6-4), to advance to the quarterfinals where they were eliminated by the No. 2 seed, Manchester-Essex, in a 5-0 shutout.
It was a tough way to lose a game, particularly considering the dominance demonstrated by the seventh-seeded Pioneers, now 10-6-3, over Marblehead throughout the game. The Pioneers constantly pressured the Magicians’ defense but failed to convert shots on net into the goals needed to break the stalemate.
Junior Jaylin Grabau lit up the lamp for Lynnfield’s lone goal in the first half to give the Pioneers an 1-0 lead. Marblehead answered with a goal of their own with about 20 minutes left in regulation.
When the final whistle blew with the score knotted at 1-1, the first sudden death 15-minute overtime commenced in a 7-on-7 format plus goalies. When that failed to produce a winner, each team removed one player from the field and a second 15-minute sudden death overtime period began in a 6-on-6 format.
Both teams staved off all threats to break the tie, which forced the game to be decided on strokes, pitting one player against the goalkeeper in an alternating format. Lynnfield co-captain Lilli Patterson scored the only goal for the Pioneers in showdown.
Head coach Mamie Reardon had nothing but praise for her players and the composure they demonstrated in this tough loss. “I thought the kids worked real hard and I thought Lilli Patterson was just brilliant. Almost every time they came down she would stop that surge and then she’d get the ball up to the forwards or out to the mids,” she said.
“This was our game to win and I thought we did dominate. In was just too bad. They deserved that win. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t capitalize on the opportunities that we had,” Reardon said.
A trio of defenders led by Patterson, Lauren Maloney and Isabella Floramo created a nearly impenetrable shield for the Pioneers.
“I really think our defense was the key to that game because I believe (Marblehead) had some forwards who could handle the ball quite well,” Reardon said. “They really prevented a lot of their offense from getting in.”
Not to be outdone were the forwards who got the ball and “did some smart things with it, but we just didn’t get the ball in the circle enough and hit it hard and rush the goalie,” she said.
Double OT takes a toll
The overtime periods added 30 minutes of play to their 60 minute game, which requires extra conditioning. “You don’t ever want it to get to that or to strokes. You just want to win it in the regular way,” Reardon said. “You have to depend on the kids to give it their all and I thought that we did. We had our chances and we dominated most of it. But we just couldn’t capitalize and put the ball in the corner of the net.”
“We didn’t let down; we didn’t let them in. There wasn’t a flurry in our end, where we had some chances in their end.” Reardon said that no coach wants to end a game on strokes. “That is the worst because every child that takes a stroke feels terrible if they don’t get it in,” she said.
7 on 7 players
During the overtime session, Reardon said she decided to bring “Min Oliveri up to forward because she was a forward in her first two years. Elise (Murphy) and Brianna (Barrett) shared the middle spot and Jay (Grabau) was the wing because Jay can pass that ball across.”
Behind them on defense were Lauren Maloney, Isabella Floramo and Lilli Patterson along with starting goalkeeper Lydia Picariello, who is a sophomore.
If Reardon could name an unsung heroine in this game, it would be Lauren Maloney, with Min Oliveri a close second.
“I thought Lauren Maloney did a great job at left back. She’s been coming on consistently all year and has just made some key saves and pulls out to the side. The push in her hip is getting better. She’s getting more knowledgeable on where to place the ball. She was pretty key taking care of their right side,” Reardon said.
“Min Oliveri played well too. She took the ball away, she carried it, she kept going up to the forwards, bringing the ball to the left side and trying to center it,” she said.
Overall, she was very happy with the level of play her team demonstrated. “I was not dismayed by their play at all. We just couldn’t capitalize in the circle when we needed to, but other than that I was very proud with how they stood their ground, how they met their match and how they stopped them,” Reardon said, adding, “These kids were fairly talented (Marblehead) and we did a good job defensively of stopping them and getting the ball up to the forwards where they needed to, but we just weren’t creating opportunities for ourselves” to score once they got it to the circle.
The 2015 Pioneers were a young team with 15 juniors and seven sophomores making up the bulk of the roster, rounded out by a pair of seniors and five freshmen. Look for their opponents to start to take notice of this crop of players in the next few years.
It was a bittersweet end to the careers of their two seniors, Bella DiCesare and Shayleigh Furey. “Bella has been playing in every game. She starts at the right mid,” Reardon said, where she has done well for the team. A back injury limited playing time for Furey this season, but the co-captain was able to play in the first half of Wednesday’s game, she said.
“It wasn’t a 2-1 game; it was even all the way down until we got to strokes,” Reardon said. “I thought it was a hard-fought game. I thought we dominated and I thought we should have won it. It just wasn’t in the cards.”